“Looking at the financial statements for the past few years now, I don’t understand what is wrong? I have already invested all my funds into the business, and still no profitability?” says one of the Directors at the AGM (Annual General Meeting).
“We need improve our business processes, before we lose control of the business.” says the Chief Finance Officer.
These are the conversations usual at AGMs, where business processes are not audited. Year on year loss of resources is very high, yet all there is to look for is scrapes of vital information not getting apparent.
Every small and large organisation of today has implemented an information system that makes their business operations more efficient. No more the size of the company, it is the requirement a requirement for even a sole-trader (newly coined term “Entrepreneur”) has to have such a system built into his/her business.
If you are reading this article, while thinking, “I have a great system implemented in my organisation, and its great for my business for many coming years.”, unfortunately it is not wise to think that way in this economy. To elaborate the point on that, technology in this century since the turn of the Millennium is going to change with agility on the horizon. With new innovations, and cyber security risks already on the rise today, it is to be kept in mind “what works today, might not tomorrow”. Have a look at one of Barnard Marr’s article here.
Every transaction after the other, businesses engage themselves in risks. Their mitigation by the human response will no longer be enough to counter challenges of the future, evolution of the risks would require better solutions to be adapted by your business (read the article here).
To keep yourself secure in this high-risk business environment, every business in this era of technology needs to adapt to better information system solutions. That includes ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Mobility Apps, Collaboration Portal, and all the means of communication that are used by modern businesses.
Getting a perfect fit for your business, can be turn things around for your businesses. Better ROI and stronger risk mitigation ability of the business can impact greatly on performance, and stakeholder investment risks are highly reduced. So how do you choose a better information system for your business? Let us look at the “5 Ground Rules for an Information System Implementation” to understand the process of implementation, and risks associated with them.
Rule # 1: Mapping your Requirements
As the business owner you need to be sure about what you need. Before going trolling down in the market, looking for a solution, get a clear picture of your business yourself. Make sure you don’t get blind folded by the general industrial assumption, “My employees will handle it better; they are the ones familiar with business processes”. Although, this might sound good practice for “authority delegation”, but not always a good idea.
Always involve the management officials you have in your company. Do not go forthwith, and start asking you line managers, and supervisors (tenured workforce can be engaged, due to the experience in the organisation). The higher management’s assistance will be vital in mapping out your business requirements, and process definition for the information system implementation.
Rule # 2: Brainstorm Selection Silos
Now that you have mapped out your processes, you have a clear picture of your business process. At this point you have the opportunity spread the word around for vendors. Designing RFQs is the most vital part. Be sure to keep all ambiguities at bay while issuing the RFQs, while keeping all the details clear. Allow a time of couple of weeks for response from vendors.
Appropriate vendor selection for your business is highly crucial at this stage. You will encounter,
• Single Solution Vendors
• Multi-Solution Vendors
• Third-Party Solution Vendors
Making a choice might seem difficult, but if you have gone through the process of mapping your requirements, it will be less tedious. It is strongly advised to never put your focus towards a single product solution for the business. That can be very risky, and incremental budget variance is highly perceptive in this scenario. Which solution better suits your business, and how it will be scaled per your requirements? This is the question that is needed to be asked when making a choice for a better solution.
Rule # 3: Designate Internal Project Managers
The selection process was cumbersome, but you have gone through the rigorous brainstorming. What comes next, is the initial preparation for the solution to be implemented in your organisation. At this point, it is very much crucial for the organisation to pinpoint the human resource it has for appointment of supervision during the organisational change procedures. The change management process has to be as smooth as possible.
To adhere to that, key personnel with experience and knowledge for the processes to be designed, are to be assigned with the implementation teams. Furthermore, other employees must be involved in the process, by way of demonstrations, workshops, and UATs (User Acceptance Training) sessions. This keeps the interest of the organisation aligned, which in turn gives employees a sense of fulfillment and learning.
Each of the key personnel chosen for implementation tasks, would keep things in perspective, if assigned departmental project managers. The higher management will not perform at this with one simple reason, process experience is the only qualifying criterion.
Rule # 4: Iterate the Implementation Procedures
Implementation of an information system can take a long time for an organisation. The variance can be from 12-48 months or more. Dependent on the fact, how complex is the requirement mapping for the implementation vendor. The breakdown of the implementation process makes the budgeting flexible, and eases the forecast variance risks; ROI adjustment remains accounted for nonetheless.
Although, funding control is crucial; the implementation methodology needs to be clearly viewed. The solution chosen by the business will surely need to be customised as per needs. While keeping in mind the customisation requirements, we must be sure about,
• Mandatory Requirements
• Functional Requirements
• Visual Requirements
As the subjected organisation for the implementation, you have to bear in mind the fact of timeline stretches of an implementation project. Not everything you are looking in the system needs tweaking, be sure to look changes that are highly crucial, and offset the rest towards the SLA (Service Licensing Agreement).
Just to look at an example here, if a report formatted as xlsx does not show a general information column; no need to reprogram the application. The reason being the fact that it is already fulfilling your requirements. Your budget will be immensely affected by such needless changes. Be sure to keep a checklist on-hand which has all the mandatory requirements listed out.
Rule # 5: The Go-Live Plasma
Congratulations! You have successfully completed the 95% of the implementation project. It is key to note that every information system realization time has a factorial difference. Depending upon the learning curve of your employees, and UAT sessions by your vendor.
You must be wondering why “Go-Live Plasma”? Well, to put it simply. Even after Go-Live the project is never going to end. From time to time, in a matter of weeks, months or even years; needed changes will always be required.
Since the commencement of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the rate of change has an exponential factor. You might feel relaxed today with your information system, but technology would eventually lead the way for your organisation innovation for the future.
But there nothing that much serious to keep you clinging on to that notion. Time will fold better results. Surely.