The key to any successful customer engagement is engaging the customer. This seems obvious. Perhaps less obvious is the level of engagement required to create a planning solution that genuinely adds real value to an organisation whether through greater efficiency, better planning or reporting capability; especially when the customer does not fully understand the potential (or limitations) of the development tool. Successful engagement requires that discussion go two ways – developers need to understand the goals of the project and the business needs to understand the capability of the system. To achieve this level of engagement, a business-led approach is essential. With this in mind, Bistech’s Implementation Methodology has been structured around this important concept.
FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY AND PROGRESS
Guided workshops with subject matter experts and users are a key aspect of the Bistech’s implementation approach that has proven successful in designing business planning applications with many customers. These workshops focus on both the technology and business process associated with the existing planning model, exploring a number of questions about the current state of the planning cycle while providing examples and guidance on the possibilities of the future state.
What is the current planning capability? Knowledge of current state is a key requirement to developing a budgeting or forecast system, whether or not the existing system is fit for the task.
Is the output of the current planning cycle worth the time invested?
What is done purely due to limitations on the current system and process?
Is the result of the planning cycle meaningful, comparable and reliable?
What are the real pain points in the planning cycle? This needs to be explored from the point of view of managers and end users as well as those responsible for the development of the plan.
FOCUS ON BUSINESS OUTCOMES
What does the new system need to achieve? Is the main goal greater efficiency and a shorter planning cycle without sacrificing veracity? Or is the goal greater detail and stronger links between operational assumptions and budget output? Bistech examine overall business objectives as well as the goals of individual stakeholders and operating divisions. These can on occasion be at odds and it is important to understand any trade-offs that may need to be made, such as additional data entry requirements related to a new layer of detail in a budget output.
What is the value of the change in detail?
What is cost of the change in detail in terms of system performance and data entry?
Look at the change in terms of accuracy versus precision – added detail often results in more precise outputs, however this does not necessarily correlate to greater accuracy.
Once a plan has been developed the communication should not cease. Bistech’s implementation methodology is based on an iterative agile approach, breaking development up into small chunks with continuous client involvement and user acceptance testing throughout the application development. This not only ensures expectations are managed, but has also proven effective in reducing re-work close to project completion.
ONGOING ENGAGEMENT AND SUPPORT
Project handover, training and post implementation support is just as important as a clear project scope. Business users need to buy in to the solution and this won’t happen without reliable and efficient on-going support. By ensuring the business users have the right skills training and access to use all of the features and functionality of the solution, you drive engagement and alignment of project goals, thereby improving success and ensuring greater customer satisfaction.
CONSIDER PEOPLE, TECHNOLOGY AND PROCESS FOR SUCCESS
New software will not solve all business problems alone. However, having a clear roadmap developed jointly by the business and solution experts, coupled with continual business involvement and a nurturing program for post implementation support are all key elements of success. Such an approach will soften the impact of change and result in a planning solution that adds significant measurable value to a business. Working with an experienced implementation partner will also greatly improve the quality and success of the final solution. Having the vision for what will work, what won’t work and where the challenges reside is immensely valuable and helps to minimise potential rework and reduce risk of failure.
Making a good forecast means not limiting the solution to quantitative information. True success with planning and forecasting requires close engagement from all those involved in the process, a clear understanding of current challenges and goals for improvement and a focus on people, technology and process.