Never take the leap without considering this.
We often see organisations rushing into their digital transformations by simply selecting a technology and then implementing it. Once you have a software partner on the ground there is often a missed step in the process, your implementation readiness.
It is not an uncommon phenomenon for digital software projects to fail and it is often coming back to the inception of the project. A service integrator partner will provide a guide or blueprint according to their generic ways. This lack of tailoring the plan to suit the customer is often resulting in what’s best for the vendor not the customers needs.
A vital first step before diving into any implementation whether it is ERP, EPM or simply a new SaaS based tool to automate a process, the readiness assessment can be the difference between success and failure. When working with large system integrators, they will often be rushing you into starting sooner rather than later. But I’ll explain why you shouldn’t succumb to this temptation.
Base Jumping into a finance digital transformation
Just like the sport of base jumping you would never just jump off any cliff, without having considered the risks such as the height, obstructions, and a clear landing point. A sport as dangerous as this requires a well thought out plan and may even change on the day, depending on the weather. The price to pay for getting this wrong could very easily be your life.
The parallels to a finance digital transformation readiness
It may sound a bit far fetched to compare base jumping to a digital finance transformation project, however, getting it wrong could cost you in wasted time, resources, money and not even gaining a usable product. It is worth investing the time upfront so that you save money later and deliver outcomes sooner, whatever your desires.
Lack of direction
Not being in control of your project
Expensive roadblocks whilst on T&M with the vendor
Project not being business process focused
Project overruns of time and cost
Customer and project team frustrations
Taking on more than you can handle
No internal accountability
There are several components to ensure you are ready:
Executive Alignment. A key to ensuring your programs are a success is to have strategic priority and a key sponsor to own the initiative. This may be led by a functional lead, however, the overall leadership team need to be aware of this and support it. If there is an organisational impact, then you need buy-in and support. Without this the most well thought out project will derail quickly.
Readiness of the business. If there is a business impact due to process changes, this should be one of the most important areas that are considered upfront. It would be worthwhile to map out current processes end to end understanding the various flows, stakeholder and downstream impact.
People changes. You like to this that technology will not change people, but it does. You need absolutely commitment of people to help support new technological changes. If you are people are not very motivated and excited by the changes, then it is likely to fail. Maybe considering your current structure and team composition could be a wise move. Short term pain for long term gain.
Technological expertise. There are often more overlaps between functional areas and IT. Whilst you may not need a significant amount of IT competencies, being lacklustre in this area could mean a simple task like setting up single sign on will take several months to setup rather than a few days. Consider getting the right partners on board early on if you do not have this expertise in-house. Also consider the solution architectural implications and other areas like privacy, cyber-security and IT support.
Project governance and planning. The project plan is often well beyond just the components that that system integrator will be providing to the organisation. There will be business process changes, training, testing and data readiness that may take up 80% of the time before the SI partner is ready to start configuring. Consider an experienced project team and paying a premium for this, as you truly get what you pay for when it comes to experience.
How ready do you think you are for your digital finance implementation?
You may be ambitious and have strong aspirations but just at the beginning of this journey. You may have tried in the past and have had some success at this or maybe it didn’t work out. Every situation is different, and no two projects will be the same. Work with a strong team and remember not to rush into these sorts of things. Feel free to reach out if you would ever like a fresh perspective for your next project.