How the Business Integrator will maximize gains from Technology implementations

By promoting Process Adoption instead of Tool Adoption

Let’s imagine that you have just implemented a new Technology in your organization: 

The roll out went smoothly but still… user adoption is not taking off or critics are being raised about the tool despite the extensive testing by your champion users.

Are any of these situations familiar to you or to your organization?

  • Your end-to-end process is interrupted and/or broken: a lot of manual reconciliations are needed, your teams are intensively using copy/pasting to/from Excel or using emails with ERP screen captures
  • Users have no understanding of the end-to-end process or no idea about the use of a specific field downstream the process, due to missing or incomplete documentation and knowledge
  • Features are not used properly by end-users, or even sometimes not used at all, preferring some home-brew manual and intensive workaround
  • End-users’ interfaces are poorly tailored to the user needs,
  • The new solution is only mirroring the old “legacy” solution, with no real business improvements
  • Technical solutions have been built in isolation, without assessing the full side effects, such as technical regression
  • Short-term technical solution through specific “tailor-made” customizations is too often chosen compared to leveraging standard product features.
  • Functional scope of the solution is not sharply defined and managed, leading to (master) data and/or functionality duplication, gaps or inconsistencies with other IT solutions …

If any of these situations are familiar to you, you are not the only one! Indeed, it is likely that the need for Change Management was underestimated for your project as well as the Business Integration.

At ngage, we strongly believe that Change Management should be embedded in Project Management and started at the very beginning of each project.

Unfortunately, the need for Change Management is perceived very differently from one organization to another.

Too often, Change Management activities occur only at the end of the project whereas it should be considered in early phases and built together as part of the overall Project Plan.

In addition, Change Management is often limited to Training & Communication, whereas it should include other dimensions such as Organizational Impacts Analysis, Coaching, Change Resistance Management, etc.

In our view, we believe that we should start our change management activities in early phases to allow identifying change impact, key stakeholders and engaging them on our change journey. This will accelerate ownership and ensure a quicker and smoother Process adoption rather than focusing only on Tool Adoption

This distinction is extremely important to materialize the gains of your implementation, since they are obviously depending on the intensive & effective use of the new tool, as well as a perfect adoption of the new process.

Enters the Business Integrator:

A Business Integrator goes beyond Change Management, by bridging Technology and Business, as it partners up with you and your Technology Implementer to define the “To Be” Process and maximize its User Adoption.

It might seem odd to promote the need of a Business Integrator since most “Tech Solutions” and ERP editors are preaching to implement as much as possible the “standard” of their software (what is called in the industry : “Adopt vs Adapt” or “Forward to standards” approaches).

In an ideal world, a “standard” implementation should be synonym of an easy one… but unfortunately our world is far from ideal and bringing an organization “forward” to the standard solution (to use the SAP© terms) requires adopting new processes and challenging the current situation to avoid the pitfall of heavy customization.

The Business Integrator will support you in those challenging situations by carrying out the following activities

  • Embrace and understand the "End Game": definition & prioritization of your Business Needs (“Why” & “What”), to ensure your Business Objectives are achieved
  • Support in designing a Business Plan to convince stakeholders and in calculating of the Project TCO
  • Design, validate and prioritize the detailed Business Requirements and functional specifications (User Stories)
  • Mapping Business Requirements against the Solution capabilities (existing and announced on the product roadmap) together with the Product Vendor and/or the Software Integrator to leverage the standard functionalities in an optimal way– aka “Gap Analysis”
  • Design of the Enterprise IT Architecture Blueprint showing the new IT Solution embedded in the overall IT landscape of the organization, including its evolutive implementation over time
  • Ensure full traceability and consistency between business needs, functional specifications and technical design 
  • Validation of Tool configuration & development
  • Lead Business testing & validation through test scenarios based on “end-to-end” processes using accurate and pertinent business data
  • Business Process Analysis when a standard approach has failed and when customization is required as a last effort
  • Change management, including the following 6 dimensions : Sponsor Management, Organizational Impacts Analysis, Resistance Management, Training, Coaching and Communication
  • Link with the PMO or Transformation office to ensure full alignment with the overall Project Portfolio

Although some of these activities can be done by internal teams, there are often capabilities gaps or manpower shortage during large implementation projects.

This highlights the importance of onboarding an additional key player who can be flexible enough to fill in the gaps, while ensuring knowledge transfer to avoid any “lock-in” syndrome.

By being independent from the Technology solution, the Business Integrator can serve as a sounding board for your internal teams and a as countercheck to the Technology Integrator, hence our motto at ngage: “Let’s bring another chair to the game”.

Let’s hear from you, what could a Business Integrator bring to you in your own context ?

Thierry Claes 24 June 2021
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