Expert Q+A Part 2: Technology and Enabling Success in Business
Riveron experts provide additional considerations for business technology success in part two of this Q+A series.
Riveron experts unpack considerations for technology implementations and other trends in modernization.
Technology initiatives and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) implementations—even for “off the shelf” software solutions—have a reputation for going over budget or taking much longer than expected. What are the main reasons for this?
Brent Fisher: Many factors apply here. Most software vendors are notorious for describing to clients that their technology is “plug and play,” with timelines that are “ready to implement in minimal days.” However, software vendors are looking at implementations purely from a technical perspective, and not factoring in the business process change, client team availability, and the impact on people. Often, these vendor-promised timelines can be met, but the burden on the customer’s responsibility is high. Some common pitfalls include:
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- Underestimating everything from the change impact, the data quality, the involvement of team members, and there are always competing projects.
- Executive sponsorship is lacking, and the necessary project vision is missing. Or, the business outcomes and key objectives of the project are not aligned from the key stakeholders to the project teams.
- Scope alignment – many times an implementation presents the opportunity to incorporate everything that is desired into a project, but project leaders have to manage expectations of what is in scope, what drives value, and what is a “nice to have”.
- Old habits befall leaders, often factoring in an old process, integration, or customization into a new implementation because it has always been done that way. New technology implementations need to avoid replicating bad processes.
The nature of a technology initiative also has an influence on the project timelines and key objectives. Consider whether a business is leveraging technology to transform their business or processes, or is a project simply a tech refresh? Undergoing a technology implementation is the ideal opportunity to get the process right for scale, automation, and to drive desired business outcomes.
Ankur Mittal: Two main reasons companies face challenges with technology implementations include: (1) leading with technology instead of process—this problem stems from trying to fix a bad process using technology, instead of streamlining the process itself, and (2) companies face hurdles when underestimating change management or failing to build internal alignment.
Jimmy Solis: Technology initiatives can fail with undefined or underdefined business requirements, underestimation of project scope and impact to the business. Also, projects can suffer from “too many cooks in the kitchen,” where no singular group is responsible for the overall outcome, poor change management occurs, or organizations tackle too much at once.
How can companies avoid these types of implementation issues for technology-related initiatives?
BF: Technology does not alone solve the issues of businesses. Companies need to focus on the right process, design, and factoring in the people to drive change. Some tips for success include:
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- Define why the business is undergoing the project, and the key objectives, and measure by business outcomes rather than timelines.
- Focus on how the technology can automate or streamline a business process
- Work from the desired end results and create the path to get there. The desired outcome often does not depend on a target completion date.
- Stay aligned and focused on the outcomes and communicate these consistently across the implementation team and all stakeholders.
What other technology trends or topics should leaders keep in mind in the months ahead?
AM: One of our partners has recently showcased compelling use cases for robotic process automation (RPA) and its implications for enterprises. Technologies such as RPA can bring in consistency and efficiency while freeing up resources to focus on higher-value activities. It is worth exploring for business unit leaders to determine how RPA applies to their functional areas, and how it can create additional efficiencies and ultimately business opportunities.
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JS: Recent client engagements show an emergence and adoption of various tools (such as Alteryx, Power BI, or UI Path) and utilities that are purpose-built for business users and decision makers. These tools and utilities help automate manual workflows and help businesses to analyze large amounts of data from disparate systems on the desktops of users. Leveraging these tools leads to the rapid development and deployment of data solutions that challenge historical norms in the realm of business intelligence and data analytics.
Before making investments in these technologies, leaders must carefully consider the balance between the flexibility and speed these solutions offer with the organization’s scalability and governance requirements. It will also be important for business technology leaders to monitor the evolution of these tools because Riveron is starting to see the positive business impact they can have for clients when deployed properly.
BF: Over many years, companies have been replacing old technology, migrating to the cloud, and gathering data in systems. Company leaders need to continue to think about: “How are all my systems, point solutions, and data connected together in an end-to-end solution?” and: “How is my organization using the data it has been collecting to make more informed decisions, design better products and delight customers?”