Reasons to Put Business Processes First
When it comes to enterprise software selection, should you be putting more consideration into the software you choose or the business processes that software will be supporting? To successfully implement enterprise software, business processes come first. However, a lot of companies will get the answer wrong. Many leaders fail to see the value in accurately evaluating all of their business processes and use cases before jumping headfirst into a software implementation, eager to reap the revenue software vendors promise will be instant. The result is an ERP or CRM instance that is not fully designed to work with the business. An implementation that fails to support crucial functions cannot possibly drive enough revenue to justify the significant investment. Here’s why considering your business processes should be more important to you than the software you’re going to run them on.
Lack of Agreement
Can you recall a time when you have been part of an IT project when the outlined objectives were never completely filled? Most people can. This disconnect between project goals and reality often happens because expectations are not properly managed or communicated among team members before the process has begun. If everyone in your company doesn’t fully outline the problems the software will be designed to solve, they will not agree on what functions they want the enterprise software to perform, what data the system should collect and how that data should be displayed. This kind of confusion directly translates into project failure.
Before you install that software you need to ensure that everyone within your company is on the same page about what it will do and what tasks every employee needs to perform to ensure that it is implemented and adopted properly. In addition, your business needs to be considering what is on the horizon. If you plan on significant growth, you’re going to need a software solution that is amenable to scalability and restructuring to grow with your business. If you envision having a sales team that is often out of the office and traveling to clients, you should also be looking for enterprise software with stellar mobile functionality.
Misleading Out-of-the-Box Software
You may think that once you get your shiny new piece of software, everything will be as simple as downloading your data into the system. Not so fast—you also need to mold that software to fit your existing business processes. What you get out of the box with any ERP or CRM system is going to be very different from what the software vendor showed off during the demo. Demos are designed to sell software—of course the provider is going to spend time building out a test system that makes you believe your new system will be able to instantly perform every function you need it to, all while producing colorful and eye-catching data reports. That’s not to say that it won’t. An enterprise system can do wonders in cutting costs, driving revenue and automating efficiency within a company, but you need to work with the software first. This kind of work includes customization, data entry and user adoption within your business. And you guessed it: you need to understand your business processes completely before you can complete that work.
Forgetting the Little Things
As expert software consultants, we were called to a case where a manufacturer’s ERP system was failing them. The discrepancy in the investment they put into their software and the value they were getting out of it lay in the initial process modeling: when asked everything they do for their job, most people would miss a couple of occasional duties when they recounted their daily tasks. However, without the faithful operation of those “occasionals,” the company suffered.
This is what happened with the client: the company did not fully document every area of its prior system, meaning that there was no way for their new software to account for the exceptions. As a result, users would remember some task or function they needed the software to support post go live. New modifications while the system is live always cause obstructions and have little to no time for testing. The result? That software system took three times longer to achieve value than what was expected, precisely because the project was not supported with a complete foundation of business processes, use cases and expected outcomes. Bottom line: make sure no stone is unturned during business process modeling. Every little task should be documented before the go-live date.
Business Processes Power Your ERP Software
Want to know the answer to building the right framework for your new software? Business Process Modeling. Successful projects are only 25% software and 75% business processes, and it requires significant effort to ensure that that 75% is fully covered. Because you know your business, you won’t jump to a software solution prematurely and end up with a product that isn’t a true fit and guaranteed to fail somewhere down the line. We have been called to a project where we patched up an ailing software system simply by completing a thorough model of the business process. What do we mean by thorough? We not only asked everyone what they do daily, but performed use cases, communicated with multiple people about every role in the company and made sure that employees knew both their tasks and how their work affected everyone else in the company. With this approach the software implementation was restarted on time and on budget and ultimately delivered all of the benefits that the company wanted—with virtually no discussion of the actual software. In the end, the software had nothing to do with the failure (or success) of the implementation, and everything to do with their processes.
If you don’t fully understand your problem, or what you are trying to fix within your company, you will not be looking for the correct solution. In the end, you must treat the patient and not the disease to make sure all of those investment dollars going towards the problem aren’t being wasted. As we discuss in our Ultimate ERP Implementation Plan E-Book, your software project depends 100% on returning to the questions that spearheaded your project’s campaign and fundamentally understanding the premise of the issues you intend a new enterprise system to support.
To get started with modeling your business processes and guaranteeing success on your next software project, contact an expert at Datix today. We have built our business on helping clients benefit from failures we’ve worked through in the past. By learning why a project wasn’t ready on the date of go live or why expected results were not achieved on time, we know how to fine tune systems to prevent these mistakes from happening in future projects. Software implementation can truly perform everything you’re expecting it to, and more—you just need to go into the project with a well-founded knowledge of everything that software needs to do. We can help you build that confidence; just drop us a line.