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How to Manage Change During a Merger or Acquisition

How to Manage Change During a Merger or Acquisition

Any type of change is traumatic, but few things are scarier than a merger or acquisition. Whether you’re doing the acquiring or you’re being acquired, this process can be stressful for everyone involved.

Managing change related to a merger or acquisition is necessary for both the short- and long-term health of your organization. While mismanagement can lead to lost productivity in the short team, it can also weaken your company from within and make it vulnerable in the future.

To effectively manage change, you should focus on your most valuable resource: your employees. Here are five tips to help you prepare for the major change of a merger or acquisition:

1. Identify Skill Gaps and Overlaps

When you join forces with another organization, the first thing on employees’ minds is the status of their jobs. To avoid this panic, you should address employee concerns long before change occurs.

And long before you communicate with employees, you should spend time defining how your organization will look post-merger. This will provide visibility into skill gaps and overlaps. If you clarify the situation as quickly as possible, you’ll find it easier to manage change. Less concerned about their jobs or their future, employees will slowly turn back to the task at hand.

Top 10 Change Management Coaching Tips for Digital Transformation

2. Focus on Organizational Culture

Bringing together two different organizations is going to combine two different types of organizational cultures. This could cause problems, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, culture can be one of your most effective tools in managing change – it can autocorrect for things you simply cannot control.

To avoid culture clashes, you should meet with teams throughout the organization to decide how processes will look post-merger. A strong business process reengineering methodology can help you establish a process framework prior to merging with another organization.

Focusing on culture before a merger or acquisition will make it easier for you to incorporate new employees into your organization and facilitate your transformation.

3. Make Communication Easy

During times of change, rumors are your worst enemy. The last thing you want is employees gossiping about what they think is going to happen post-merger. This not only takes people away from work, but it hurts workplace morale, which can have a negative impact on the health of the company.

It’s important to establish clear and open lines of communication with employees throughout the acquisition process. Consider developing an organizational change management plan and holding weekly meetings to discuss the latest news related to the merger and to answer any questions people may have. This simple step ensures everyone is on the same page and gives you the chance to dispel rumors while keeping everyone calm and working towards a common goal.

4. Establish Purpose

Many organizations use mergers and acquisitions as a growth strategy. The idea is that if you can combine highly-profitable companies in similar but different markets, then you can increase efficiency and profitability. This can be a smart strategy, but only if stakeholders are aligned.

To ensure alignment, you should communicate your strategy and explain how it aligns with your organizational vision. If acquiring a certain company gives you access to a new market, then make your intentions clear.

5. Collaborate

Organizational change can often feel as though it’s being imposed from the top, and this can lead to change resistance. It’s important to make the transformation as collaborative as you can.

Recruiting integration teams is a great way to spread the workload of change management, and it makes people feel more involved in the process. Participating in integration teams gives employees another way to stay informed about organizational changes.

While preparing for change is important, unforeseen challenges always arise. You should develop a plan but remain flexible as you navigate change. Keep these tips in mind, as they will make your merger or acquisition more successful.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With an ERP Systems Expert!

About the Author: Jock Purtle is the Founder and CEO of a digital business brokerage. Prior to starting DigitalExits, he was an eCommerce entrepreneur. In his current role, he works with business owners to help them strategize growth and plan an exit, which has given him considerable experience in fields such as organizational change and corporate culture.

Note: The inclusion of guest posts on the Panorama website does not imply endorsement of any specific product or service. Panorama is, and always will remain, completely independent and vendor-neutral. If you are interested in guest blogging opportunities, click to read more about our submission guidelines.

 

6 Benefits of Machine Learning and AI for Supply Chain Management

6 Benefits of Machine Learning and AI for Supply Chain Management

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to become one of the most disruptive technologies of the 21st century. It’s driving innovation across sectors as disparate as healthcare and agriculture. Supply chain management is one area where AI has many applications and benefits.

Before moving forward, here are some quick definitions:

  • AI refers to a branch of computer science that involves simulating intelligent human-like behavior in machines.
  • Machine learning is a branch of AI concerned with using statistical techniques and algorithms to facilitate computer systems in improving their performance on specific tasks using data alone, without being explicitly programmed.

 

Benefits of Machine Learning and AI for Supply Chain Management

 

1. Predictive Analytics

Demand forecasting analyzes customer demand to optimize supply chain processes. Optimal inventory levels and reduced holding costs are key benefits of accurate demand forecasting.

Machine learning models are adept at predictive analytics for demand forecasting. These models can identify hidden patterns in historical demand data. For example, the models can correlate customer purchasing behavior with weather patterns.

We developed a manufacturing ERP systems list for organizations interested in this type of functionality:

Top 12 Manufacturing ERP Systems Report

2. Inventory Management

An important use case for AI is enhancing the computer vision capabilities of ERP systems and machines. Computer vision is a field of computer science that works on enabling computers to see, identify and process images.

Thanks to machine learning and deep learning, image classification is now becoming more feasible, meaning computer systems can now recognize and classify objects in images with a high degree of accuracy – in some cases, even outperforming humans.

In terms of supply chain management, computer vision can enable more accurate inventory management. Target, for example, trialed a system in which a robot equipped with a camera tracked inventory on store shelves. (For information on other trends and key issues in contemporary supply chain management, read this article by Bringg.)

3. Optimized Procurement Management

Chatbots have dramatically improved in recent years, and while they are often used in the context of customer service, they also have benefits in procurement management.

A good example is Chyme, which opens up conversational interfaces between human operators and sales/marketing automation solutions, such as Salesforce. A large beverage company implemented Chyme as they were experiencing inefficiencies when employees sought information on procurement queries. Employees were required to call a helpdesk and wait for operators to access several systems to give them the required information. By implementing the AI-powered procurement bot and integrating it with various ERP systems for access to real-time information, inefficiencies were markedly reduced.

Chatbots provide instant information on shipment status, stock availability, stock price and other procurement queries. This is a clear case of AI benefiting supply chain management while augmenting the roles of staff and allowing them to focus on value-added tasks instead of getting frustrated answering simple queries.

4. Automated Quality Inspections

Manual quality inspections conducted at logistics hubs are often used to inspect packages or containers for any damage during transit. The possibility to automate quality inspections has emerged with the growth of AI.

IBM Watson is an artificial intelligence system that can be used for automated analysis of defects in industrial equipment. The system uses machine learning techniques to check for damage via image recognition.

The use of AI to power automated quality inspections reduces the chances of delivering faulty goods to customers.

5. Improved Compliance

Manufacturers in certain industries are required to comply with a range of industry-specific regulations governing product quality. In industries like aerospace and healthcare, supplier quality is paramount. A component part that fails to meet industry regulations in aerospace, for example, could lead to human fatalities.

Supplier quality management is costly and time-consuming because manufacturers in heavily-regulated industries need to track and monitor thousands, or even millions, of component parts from different suppliers to ensure they meet compliance standards. Machine learning models can streamline auditing and compliance monitoring of component parts.

6. Faster, Higher-output Shipping

The autonomous vehicles industry is still in its nascent stages. However, as it begins to mature, there is enormous potential for shortening shipping times. Human truck drivers can only be on the road for a limited amount of time within a certain time period. Autonomous vehicles, powered by AI and machine learning, do not have this limit on driving time.

Closing Thoughts

The benefits of AI and machine learning in supply chain management are clear. These technologies augment the roles of skilled workers, allowing them to provide more value to their organizations.

If you’re pursuing digital transformation, AI may be just what you need for increasing operational efficiencies and competitive advantage.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With a Digital Transformation Expert!

Written By: Limor Wainstein. Limor is a technical writer and editor at Agile SEO, a boutique digital marketing agency focused on technology and SaaS markets. She has over 10 years’ experience writing technical articles and documentation for various audiences, including technical on-site content, software documentation, and dev guides. She specializes in big data analytics, computer/network security, middleware, software development and APIs.

Note: The inclusion of guest posts on the Panorama website does not imply endorsement of any specific product or service. Panorama is, and always will remain, completely independent and vendor-neutral. If you are interested in guest blogging opportunities, click to read more about our submission guidelines.

6 Benefits of Cloud ERP

6 Benefits of Cloud ERP

Cloud ERP and on-premise ERP each have their benefits. The best choice for you will depend on your organization’s structure and business strategy.

While this post focuses on the benefits of cloud ERP, it is by no means superior to on-premise software or hybrid cloud environments. The benefits you realize from any technology will depend on your project execution before, during and after implementation.

Here is a technology-agnostic perspective on the reasons some organizations choose to implement cloud ERP:

1. Better Business Intelligence

Cloud technology allows organizations to access data remotely without complex technical configuration or robust IT staffing. Over the past two years, the number of organizations deploying business intelligence (BI) in the cloud has doubled. Cloud BI adoption is especially prevalent among sales and marketing departments as they rely on real-time data to understand and improve the customer journey.

When it comes to data access and data storage, cloud ERP has several advantages over on-premise ERP. Cloud technology is more scalable for storing large amounts of data and can provide access to data gathered by IoT technology.

While researching cloud ERP systems, you’ll likely run across many lists of “top ERP systems.” These lists are often based on the amount of research and development vendors are investing in their products. The most innovative ERP vendors are heavily investing in cloud BI.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

2. Faster Implementation

Cloud ERP systems are faster to implement than on-premise ERP systems. The technical environment for cloud technology can be configured in as little as 24 hours.

This gives organizations more time to focus on the business side of transformation. Change management and business process management require the same time and resources whether you’re implementing cloud or on-premise ERP.

3. Ability to Focus on Your Core Competencies

Many organizations lack sufficient IT staffing or cannot afford the same resources and infrastructure as cloud providers. While an organization may be decently skilled at IT, it’s not necessarily its core competency.

Cloud technology allows organizations to outsource their IT function and focus on their core business. Retailers, for example, typically like to dedicate more focus to the customer experience than IT maintenance.

4. Cost Savings

The initial cost of cloud technology is lower than on-premise technology. While subscription costs add up over time, many CFOs are more concerned about minimizing capital expenditures than reducing operating costs. These CFOs may opt for a multi-tenant cloud to minimize long-term costs.

For smaller organizations, the long-term cost of cloud ERP may actually be less expensive than on-premise ERP – the fixed infrastructure costs of on-premise ERP can’t be spread over enough volume to justify the cost.

5. End User Buy In

Cloud technology tends to be more modern and easier to use than on-premise software, so employees may be quicker to embrace it. This does not mean organizations won’t need end-user training and a communications plan. It just means they might experience less resistance. Some organizational cultures are more accepting of cloud ERP than others.

In any technology initiative you should communicate with employees about the benefits of new technology, emphasizing how their jobs will become easier. Are you implementing robotic process automation in conjunction with cloud technology? Focus on how these bots will streamline menial tasks and enable employees to work more efficiently.

6. Strong Data Security

To avoid security breaches, many organizations turn to cloud ERP as cloud vendors tend to have very secure hosting environments. Some CIOs still worry about the security of the cloud, but they don’t realize how vigilant cloud ERP vendors can be when it comes to security because the stakes are so high. Cloud vendors have a lot to lose – with multiple customers, they are popular targets for security breaches. This may sound like a disadvantage, but in many cases, it forces vendors to develop sophisticated security.

 

Cloud ERP Best Practices

While there are very compelling reasons to implement cloud ERP, all technology initiatives entail significant risk. Before jumping into a cloud implementation, you should first understand your business strategy and digital strategy. The deployment model you choose should align with these strategies.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With an ERP Systems Expert!

Why Localization Should be Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Why Localization Should be Part of Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Whether you are a CEO of a company, an independent content creator or a marketing executive of a large enterprise, chances are you have given some thought to digital transformation. The digital marketplace we live in today requires brands and their respective businesses to innovate their marketing strategies in order to stay relevant.

Studies have shown that 55% of startups worldwide have already adopted digital transformation as their primary business strategy. One of the more predominant factors of becoming relevant to a wider customer base is site and content localization. What localization can accomplish is to make your brand relevant to markets outside of your local area or language region.

Localization of your internet presence can enable you to approach new markets and clients as well as to establish a firm presence as an important figure in your industry. Let’s take a look at why digital transformation should take center stage in your internationalization efforts through the lens of localization.

1. Brand authority & industry presence

It can be difficult for a company to establish its presence on the market, especially in a competitive niche. However, content localization coupled with digital transformation can help your brand achieve that goal. By going the extra mile and localizing your web content, you will make a statement that you are ready to grow as a brand.

Both customers and other companies in your niche will start to notice your online content, pages and the impact you make thanks to the search engine optimization (SEO) that comes with localization. In short, the more you move into localization of your content through digital transformation, the more prevalent your name will be online.

2. Greater variety of markets

Localization entails that you translate your content into languages other than your native one. This means that any customers and clients who speak Chinese, Russian, Greek or some other language will take notice of you. In that regard, you will effectively attract a more varied and lucrative clientele than ever before.

While traditional digital transformation efforts focus on internal restructuring, localization looks outwards towards the public. This is what makes localization a good choice for digital restructuring since it will place your brand’s pin on the markets across the world.

3. A flexible content structure

Content localization will give you ample opportunity to catalogue your website, blog posts and social media accounts. This is a good time to refresh and reevaluate your content marketing strategy now that you have localization in mind.

You will effectively create a more manageable and flexible content structure, which will allow you to create new types of interesting content for your international audience. Managing such a large operation is a huge feat, so you should consider outsourcing a part of your localization process to a trustworthy third party.

It is good practice to check out several translation reviews before settling for the writers and translators that suit your brand needs the most, especially in long term. Once you have a content creation and localization pipeline in place, managing the digital transformation chess pieces around your brand will be a quick and enjoyable task.

4. Better SERP ranking

All the digital transformation efforts you put into your website, brand and content lead to one thing – better SEO. SEO remains a pivotal part of content optimization on the web and directly affects the visibility of your brand on popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Search engine result page (SERP) extrapolates data from your SEO optimization and ranks that content higher or lower than the competition’s. Your rank will depend on the level of optimization you applied to your content.

Localization is considered a huge leap forward from anything you might do to technically optimize your content through Google Adwords or SEM Rush. In essence, localization through digital transformation of your online brand will ensure you show up on people’s browsers far more frequently than before.

5. High ROI

Every company has to take ROI into consideration when innovations are in question. After all, digital transformation isn’t the cheapest or fastest way to upgrade your business model. However, content localization is a very worthy investment for an online brand for one simple reason – organic traffic. Localization brings organic traffic to your website and subsequently allows for much higher conversion rates.

This is a much more affordable marketing strategy than any form of paid advertisement, live event or influencer campaign. The ROI of localization in your digital transformation far exceeds any previously mentioned marketing efforts and it makes sense for your brand in the long run.

6. External investments & partners

Once the buzz around your company starts spreading, you will see a lot more clients and customers knocking on your door. One of the more prominent knocks you should be present for is when interested partners and investment opportunities approach you.

Localization can do a lot for your brand and being interesting to potential investment partners is only one of them. Make sure to take every option into consideration when it comes to corporate partnerships and investment projects as a result of your newly-implemented digital transformation. There is a lot to be gained by working with other brands in your niche and creating joint products and services for international markets.

Now, Not Later

Large companies and small startups are both cautious about implementing anything new into their existing business models. However, technical transformation and digital upgrades to your brand are becoming a market necessity. If you decide to wait, you can find yourself in the position of becoming irrelevant to the market because other brands have embraced new digital transformation techniques in your place.

Localize a portion of your online presence into popular global languages and monitor the performance of your brand for a while. Before you know it, you will have expanded far beyond where you were when you started considering localization as part of your digital transformation strategy.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With a Digital Transformation Expert!

Written By: Kristin Savage. Kristin graduated from Columbia University where she was majoring in Germanic Languages. Besides English as her mother tongue, she also speaks German and Dutch fluently. Currently, Kristin is studying Spanish and planning to obtain her PhD in Applied Linguistics.

Note: The inclusion of guest posts on the Panorama website does not imply endorsement of any specific product or service. Panorama is, and always will remain, completely independent and vendor-neutral. If you are interested in guest blogging opportunities, click to read more about our submission guidelines.

A Brief Overview of Robotic Process Automation

A Brief Overview of Robotic Process Automation

Competition is fierce in the robotic process automation market. It’s a market that has more than tripled in revenue during the last two years, perhaps due to the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI). However, robotic process automation isn’t quite the same as AI.

 

What is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of software robots to perform simple, repetitive tasks, such as data entry or certain employee onboarding tasks. Unlike AI, RPA cannot make judgments about future scenarios.

Organizations often deploy RPA bots in place of an ERP system or use them in conjunction with an existing ERP system. While ERP systems automate many business processes, they don’t automate all processes. This is where bots become useful. Usually, a bot does not have to be directly integrated into an ERP system to interface with it.

Pre-implementation Readiness: How to Prepare for ERP Selection

When RPA technology came on the market, it was primarily adopted by the financial services industry. Now, it is popular across all industries, and organizations have a variety of software vendors from which to choose.

Three software startups rule the RPA market: Blue Prism Group, UiPath and Automation Anywhere. These three companies were all founded in 2005 or earlier, but they didn’t become successful until they entered the RPA market.

 

Why is the RPA Market Growing so Quickly?

Using bots to complete repetitive tasks saves organizations time and money and reduces errors. Bots also allow employees to focus on higher-level work instead of mundane tasks. In other words, the return on investment is huge. Every organization wanting to compete in the digital era is considering RPA technology.

Strategic marketing has also contributed to the growth of the RPA market. Blue Prism Group popularized the use of the word “robotic” in conjunction with “process automation” as it invoked the concept of AI. Taking advantage of the popularity of AI, the RPA market skyrocketed.

Another reason for the market’s growth is the fact that RPA technology is relatively low cost, and the initial implementation typically doesn’t require extensive customization or deep systems integration.

 

RPA Implementation Challenges

The RPA market continues to grow despite rampant implementation failures. The only reason organizations think RPA is quick and easy to implement is because they are rushing through implementation without proper planning or a long-term roadmap. Organizations soon find that RPA technology is difficult to maintain as their organization grows and business processes evolve.

If you know where your business is headed in the next five to ten years, you can configure your bots to fit your future business model. When evaluating RPA vendors, look for a flexible solution that aligns with your culture of continuous improvement.

 

The Future of RPA

RPA technology will likely become more sophisticated as software companies move beyond the automation of simple tasks and begin automating more advanced processes. Eventually, ERP vendors may acquire RPA (soon to be AI) companies to extend their own AI functionality.

In the meantime, organizations implementing RPA are getting creative. They’re integrating RPA with cognitive technologies, such as machine learning, speech recognition and natural language processing, so they can automate processes previously requiring human judgment. Most organizations are putting this type of automation, known as intelligent automation, on their strategic agendas for the next year.

While the future of RPA is bright, will the future it creates be just as idyllic? Automation technology has eliminated jobs in the past, so its reasonable to expect that more advanced automation will eliminate just as many, if not more, jobs. In response to this fear, organizations are developing reskilling plans, so they can maximize employee retention even as entire roles and job descriptions are eliminated.

 

Should You Consider RPA?

In this digital era, organizations want to redefine the way they work. While the need for new technology is urgent, you should first focus on aligning your people and processes with your digital strategy. Your RPA implementation should be part of a holistic digital transformation initiative.

If you build this strong foundation, your organization can realize numerous benefits from RPA technology, including cost savings, reduced cycle time and improved customer service.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With a Digital Transformation Expert!

8 Secrets to Developing a Business Case For an ERP Implementation

8 Secrets to Developing a Business Case For an ERP Implementation

You want to begin an ERP implementation, but executives aren’t fully on board. How can you gain the support of your leadership team?

Ultimately, every project comes down to one thing: the potential ROI. Here are eight tips for developing a business case to convince executives to invest in new technology:

1. Relate the problem to the bottom line. Perhaps you’re hoping ERP software will help employees keep up with increasing workloads. Maybe you’re having a hard time accessing real-time data. Regardless of your reasoning, the best way to pitch your strategy is to relate it to your organization’s bottom line.

Are your employees spending too much time on mundane, repetitive processes? Present that information in terms of lost productivity and labor costs. Are you continually missing deadlines? Calculate the penalties you’ve had to pay as a result. Sound financial reasoning sets your recommendation off on the right foot.

The Big Picture: Introduction to Digital Transformation

2. Show multiple opportunities for improvement. One purchase, numerous benefits – what’s not to love? Most enterprise technologies touch multiple areas of an organization. This makes them a valuable investment. To strengthen your value proposition, emphasize each of the ways an ERP system could transform your organization.

3. Demonstrate long-term usability. Executives aren’t just worried about today’s results – they must think about tomorrow’s goals as well. In the long-term, outdated technologies can become hard to use and expensive to maintain. Modern ERP systems, on the other hand, are more user-friendly and seamlessly integrate with technologies you might adopt in the future. Look for ERP vendors that have a demonstrated history of support, system updates and long-term ROI.

4. Build credibility through case studies and reports. Corporate decision-makers need data to rationalize an investment. Most ERP systems – especially large systems like SAP and Oracle – can provide extensive resources to help you build your business case. For example, a success story from another company in your industry can be convincing to executives.

5. Anticipate failure. Executives are held responsible when an ERP implementation fails. As a result, they often err on the side of caution when it comes to expensive technology investments. When you approach the executive team, don’t just present the reasons why you should adopt the new technology. Think through the potential reasons why you shouldn’t, and come prepared with answers to objections such as:

  • Our IT team doesn’t have the time to spend on implementation.
  • Our legacy systems are too old to work with a new ERP system.
  • Our processes are too complex for an out-of-the-box product.
  • Our data won’t be secure.

6. Set a realistic timeframe. Implementing an ERP system doesn’t happen overnight. While executives may want immediate results, it’s better to give them realistic expectations. You should account for production testing, user training and data migration. Map out each milestone and consider building in extra days for unexpected roadblocks.

7. Offer to monitor, report and analyze. Meet with executives to develop specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). Offer to provide regular status updates to make the results more visible. This demonstrates that you’re aligned with their priorities.

8. Liaise between executives and end-users. Once executives are on board, you should continue to communicate with them regarding end-user needs. Nobody will have more insight into what’s necessary in an ERP system than the people who currently own your business processes. You can communicate their pain points up the chain of command, ensuring the technology you select meets your business needs.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid to advocate for the technology you need to remain productive and competitive.

“Organizations don’t prosper,” notes Harvard Business Review, “unless managers in the middle ranks . . . identify and promote the need for change.”

Executives don’t always see the day-to-day issues that impede productivity, but they do have the responsibility to listen to and solve their organization’s challenges. Presented with sound reasoning, a business case for an ERP implementation can convince executives to invest in technology that enables transformation.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With an ERP Systems Expert!

Written By: Faith Kubicki, Content Marketing Manager for IntelliChief. 

Note: The inclusion of guest posts on the Panorama website does not imply endorsement of any specific product or service. Panorama is, and always will remain, completely independent and vendor-neutral. If you are interested in guest blogging opportunities, click to read more about our submission guidelines.

10 Tips for Finding an Expert Witness for a Failed Software Implementation

10 Tips for Finding an Expert Witness for a Failed Software Implementation

ERP failure can include anything from operational disruption to cost and schedule overruns to a lack of benefits realization. Organizations experiencing ERP failure often file lawsuits and hire attorneys to defend their cases. These attorneys then seek the help of an expert witness.

An ERP expert witness provides litigation support to attorneys representing software developers, system integrators or end-user clients. The expert witness works closely with attorneys to determine where the failure points lie within failed ERP implementations.

If you’re an attorney, software developer, VAR or end-user seeking a software expert witness, here are ten tips for finding a good one:

1. Look for an expert witness who is unbiased. Does the expert witness have any connections to software vendors or system integrators? If so, this should disqualify him or her from being involved in a case. This bias is not always revealed upfront.

A Software Expert Witness Success Story

2. Find an expert witness who has worked with both vendors and end-user clients. An expert witness who does not have experience with both, should be disqualified, as this may indicate bias toward particular clients.

3. Assess their testimony experience. Do they have the technical expertise to analyze a case accurately? Do they have experience being deposed, and have they given expert testimony before a judge or arbitrator?

4. Determine if they use an individual or team-based approach. Will one expert do all the work themselves? This comes down to a cost issue. There may be thousands of documents to review to find the root causes of failure, and you don’t want to pay the rate of the expert for work that a qualified analyst can accomplish.

5. Determine if the expert has previously been disqualified. Has your expert ever been disqualified prior to testimony? This is one of the first questions opposing council will ask, and if the answer is “yes,” then the expert will likely be disqualified again.

6. Consider the amount of expert witness experience. How many cases has your expert worked on? If the answer is one (or fewer), you should question the expert to see how he or she holds up under intense scrutiny.

7. Find an expert who has consistent historical documentation. Does your expert have a consistent history represented in his or her CV, resume, expert witness listings, social media and other sources? Inconsistencies will be researched by opposing council and brought to light in deposition or testimony, which may result in disqualification.

8. Look for an expert with a history of publication. Has your expert been interviewed by reputable media sources? Has he or she personally published articles or whitepapers? Some experts will take another person’s work and represent it as their own.

9. Look for schedule flexibility. Often, deposition and court dates are not fixed. Is your expert’s schedule flexible enough to adjust to movements in times and dates by opposing council or the court?

10. Find an expert who is detail-orientated. Is your expert a detailed person who will dedicate the required time and effort to provide an exhaustive examination of the facts? Or are they a person who will improvise when faced with tough questions? Your expert needs thorough knowledge of the issues impacting the case.

Following these guidelines when looking for an expert witness will save you time and money in the long-run. While it takes time to investigate expert witness qualifications, your efforts will pay off when your chosen expert delivers a testimony that wins the case.

 

An Expert Witness Case Study

A state government agency experienced a failed software implementation and considered suing its selection and implementation partner. The consulting firm was tasked with replacing the agency’s tax collection systems, but project deliverables were delayed, and the project suffered from a lack of staffing. The project had also run overbudget and had poor project management.

The government agency engaged an expert witness to determine the feasibility of a lawsuit. Had the consulting firm met the contract terms? Was legal action warranted or were the delays and staffing issues within reason?

The expert witness team audited several thousand case documents to develop an analysis and argument for the legal team. The expert witness team determined the project delays were unreasonable, and the consulting firm hadn’t provided promised resources. Documenting their findings in a 70-page analysis, the team gave the agency confidence in their proposed lawsuit.

The lawsuit helped the agency recover tens of millions of dollars in lost business benefits and consulting fees.

The government agency was successful because they hired an expert witness team as opposed to a single expert. The team had a breadth of experience working for both plaintiffs and defendants and had significant selection and implementation experience. This is the type of team you need when your ERP implementation fails.

Speak with an expert now for a free consultation!

How to Develop an IT Strategy to Guide Your ERP Selection

How to Develop an IT Strategy to Guide Your ERP Selection

The multitude of enterprise software options available in the market today overwhelms most organizations. They often realize they need to go back to the drawing board and define an IT strategy so they can narrow down their choices.

Not only do organizations need to decide between ERP vendors, but they need to weigh the costs and benefits of different deployment options, integration strategies and digital technologies, like IoT and artificial intelligence.

Do you already have an IT strategy? It doesn’t hurt to reevaluate it to determine if it’s really meeting your organization’s needs, both now and in the future. Here are five signs you need to redefine your IT strategy:

1. Your enterprise technology hasn’t been updated in the last decade. Most organizations replace their ERP systems every ten years – at minimum. If you’re not replacing your enterprise technology every decade or so, you’re falling behind your competition. While it’s wise to make the most out of your current IT investments, you should also be able to discern when systems become outdated.

2. Your IT strategy isn’t aligned with your overall business strategy. When CIOs decide to implement new ERP software, they have good intentions, but sometimes, those intentions aren’t aligned with the organization’s overall strategy. For example, an organization may want to reduce capital costs, but the CIO wants to implement a SaaS solution instead of an on-premise solution. Before selecting ERP software, you should first define your strategic objectives, and then define specific IT objectives that support those overarching business goals.

3. You haven’t considered all the strategic options. You may think an IT strategy entails a full-scale ERP implementation. However, ERP software is just one of many technology solutions that can improve your operations. Digital technology such as IoT, artificial intelligence and business intelligence are also viable options.

4. You don’t have an actionable plan for replacing your enterprise technology. You may have completed steps 1 through 3, but your IT strategy is useless without an actionable, strategic plan. This plan should include a multi-year roadmap for how you’ll achieve your organizational vision.

5. Your IT strategy doesn’t meet your organization’s ROI thresholds. Your IT strategy should fit the cost, benefit and risk tolerances defined by your organization. For example, let’s say you’re a risk-adverse organization in a mature industry with very low margins. Do you really want to implement a high-risk, high-cost solution?

 

How to Develop an IT Strategy

1. Define your company’s overall strategy. If you don’t currently have a well-defined company strategy, you should define and document a vision for where the organization is headed in terms of growth and transformation. This should influence how you move forward with your IT strategy.

2. Define IT’s role and purpose in your organization. Does your organization view IT as a commodity or as a competitive differentiator that provides unique value to your customers? The answer to this question will lead to one of two decisions: outsourcing IT functions or building IT competencies in house. This will also determine the types of technology you consider – cloud, SaaS, on-premise, best-of-breed, etc.

3. Assess your IT department’s competencies. If your IT department is sophisticated, your organization may be equipped to handle a best-of-breed, on-premise ERP system. A less sophisticated IT department may want to implement a SaaS ERP system instead. When assessing your competencies, be sure to consider your overall physical infrastructure.

4. Consider all your digital transformation options. The enterprise technology industry has evolved from just a few large ERP vendors to several vendors offering a variety of point solutions. Instead of implementing a single ERP system, you can now choose from industry-specific solutions and point solutions focused on certain functions. Aside from technology, you can transform your organization by reengineering your business processes or reimagining your business model.

5. Develop a long-term strategy. Some organizations rush into a short-term technology decision without considering the long-term impacts. For example, if you implement a CRM system without considering how it fits into your long-term strategy, you may find it doesn’t integrate well with certain ERP systems. This limits your options when you decide to implement other technologies. Be sure to have a long-term view even when embarking on short-term initiatives.

6. Consider the non-technical aspects of your digital strategy. Many organizations focus on the technical aspects of their IT strategies without considering the people and process aspects. Your IT strategy should address business process reengineering and organizational change management – both of which will help you realize the full benefits of digital transformation.

 

Every Organization Needs an IT Strategy

Defining an IT strategy before selecting an ERP system ensures your technology is aligned with your organizational vision. While this may sound like an expensive ordeal, you don’t have to be a large, billion-dollar organization to afford the luxury of an IT strategy – you just need to find the right consulting partner.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With an ERP Systems Expert!

7 Business Process Reengineering Tips For Competitive Advantage

7 Business Process Reengineering Tips For Competitive Advantage

While most organizations are racing to ERP go live, some are taking the time to reengineer their business processes. They are not concerned with implementing an ERP system as quickly as possible. Instead, they’re focused on beating the competition by designing differentiated, efficient business processes. They may lose the race to the go-live finish line, but they’ll win the race that actually matters – the race to grow their customer base and increase revenue.

Here are seven tips for improving your competitive advantage through business process reengineering:

1. Budget adequate time and resources. Business process reengineering takes time. In fact, it takes more time than the technical configuration, testing and implementation of ERP software. It probably took your organization years to adopt your current processes, so it will likely take some time to change those well-established processes. You should ensure sufficient time for defining, improving and implementing new business processes. Benchmarking against organizations of similar size and industry will help you set realistic expectations for your project.

2. Define business requirements before selecting ERP software. Organizations often find that modern ERP systems are too flexible to simply start using out of the box. Even the simplest business processes have multiple workflow options. This complexity will slow down your project if your business processes aren’t well defined before the design and build phases of your implementation. If you start your project with a clear vision of your business requirements, you will minimize the amount of time you spend with expensive technical consultants. You’ll also ensure your competitive advantage isn’t lost to standard software functionality.

3. Improve business processes before selecting ERP software. Just as you should define business requirements before software selection, you should also improve your processes as early as possible. This is also the time to consider whether your processes align with your long-term organizational strategy. Waiting until the last minute to improve processes may leave you with no choice but to keep all your existing processes, whether or not they are optimized. Operational efficiency can differentiate you from your competitors, so now’s your chance to surpass them through process improvement.

4. Don’t treat all business processes equally. Many organizations are overwhelmed by the number of business processes they need to document, analyze and improve. They don’t realize they can start by focusing on just the processes that are competitive differentiators. These processes should drive your selection of ERP software and shouldn’t be constrained by software best practices, which may not be best practices for your unique operations. For example, your customer service may be a source of competitive advantage. If so, customer-facing processes should be a priority during business process reengineering and requirements gathering.

5. Integrate business process reengineering with change management. Resistance to change is one of the main reasons business transformation takes longer than expected. Ensuring employees understand and accept new processes is challenging because people naturally dislike change. Before training employees, you should identify the gaps between your current and future state, so employees understand new processes in the context of their day-to-day jobs. A comprehensive change management plan includes more than training. You also need to strategically communicate with employees to ensure they accept new business processes before go live and adopt those processes for the long term.

6. Integrate analytics into business processes. Several ERP vendors offer innovative solutions that leverage business intelligence and predictive analytics. These systems use artificial intelligence (AI) to turn massive amounts of seemingly unusable data into actionable data. But what good is this data if you don’t have a plan for acting on it? When defining your future state business processes, you should include processes for analyzing and acting on data. Chances are, most of your competitors don’t have a strategy for leveraging AI nor have they implemented this innovative technology.

7. Measure results and make incremental improvements. Measuring post-implementation results helps you stay on track to realizing expected business benefits. If you’re not achieving a particular benefit, you should determine root causes and pain points. Continually measuring incremental benefits realization allows you to make corrections as needed. Misalignment between business requirements and software functionality can deter benefits realization. Lack of employee buy-in can also create a roadblock.

 

Why Reengineer Your Processes?

Every organization deserves ERP software that supports their business processes. The only way to ensure you select such software is to reengineer your processes before selection.

Business process reengineering also ensures your chosen ERP software aligns with your long-term organizational goals. ERP systems are a big investment, so they should support your processes for at least the next five to ten years.

Most importantly, business process reengineering helps you beat the competition by ensuring your ERP system enables differentiated, efficient business processes.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With a Business Process Reengineering Expert!

Manufacturing ERP Software: 12 Vendors That Rock

Manufacturing ERP Software: 12 Vendors That Rock

Manufacturing organizations today have more than 200 different manufacturing ERP software solutions to choose from. To help navigate this challenge, we developed a report highlighting what we believe to be the top 12 manufacturing ERP systems based on our experience and research. The report includes Tier I, II and III ERP systems as well as niche applications. We discuss considerations such as user experience, cultural fit and functional strengths and weaknesses.

Before you download the report, here’s a quick overview of some of the highlights from the Tier I ERP vendors:

SAP

As one of the largest vendors in our report, SAP makes large investments in research and development. SAP has recently invested in its manufacturing execution system (MES) by leveraging artificial intelligence. When tracking defects, for example, the MES system provides near real-time information by relying on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Another strength of SAP is the ability to configure and centrally manage a hierarchy of resource reason codes across plants.

One thing to consider when evaluating SAP is the systems’ complexity. In our experience, implementation durations can range from nine months to more than 18 months, depending on complexity as well as the rollout methodology.

Top 12 Manufacturing ERP Systems Report

Discover the strengths of the Tier I, II and III ERP systems and niche applications best suited for the manufacturing industry.

Infor

Infor is another large ERP vendor that is consistently developing innovative products. Infor’s products for process manufacturers are designed to increase operational efficiencies by allowing easy adjustments to formulas before and during production.

Earlier this year, Infor enhanced its supply chain management (SCM) functionality to leverage digital technologies, such as big data, machine learning and IoT. The SCM system can be purchased as part of a full suite of solutions.

While both Infor LN and Infor M3 provide deep out-of-the-box functionality, organizations may need to implement an additional Infor product to access more advanced functionality.

Oracle

Oracle also invests heavily in manufacturing ERP software. Oracle’s warehouse management system (WMS), providing cloud-based inventory management and warehouse management, leverages innovative technology, such as IoT and mobility. The WMS system can easily integrate with other business applications.

Oracle’s manufacturing products use artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to rapidly identify issues, pinpoint the root causes and predict events before they occur.

While Oracle’s cloud applications consolidate best practices from their various business applications, Oracle’s cloud functionality is not yet as rich and deep in functionality as historical JD Edwards or EBS functionality.

Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics solutions have a familiar user interface and suit organizations of all sizes. Microsoft Dynamics D365 Enterprise enables data and resource integration across various departments and locations. The solution has been redeveloped as a pure SaaS model, but also can be deployed on-premise or hosted in the cloud. In terms of field service functionality, Microsoft Dynamics employs IoT technology to improve response times and operational efficiency.

This October, Dynamics 365 for Sales will be enabled with artificial intelligence, which will give manufacturers better visibility into their supply chain. Dynamics D365 continues its reliance on a partner ecosystem to develop niche functionality. Partners are currently in the process of understanding niche IP development for the new version of Microsoft Dynamics.

 

The Ideal Manufacturing ERP Software

The ideal manufacturing solution should address the entire supply chain, from product inception to customer delivery. It should have functionality to track suppliers, materials, production costs, maintenance and customer relationships. Ultimately, it should increase operational efficiency and provide full visibility into manufacturing processes and business data. Transforming your manufacturing organization requires technology that drives efficiency and enables full supply chain visibility.

While it’s helpful to compare the strengths of various ERP systems, the best solution for your business depends on your unique needs and situation. We hope this report helps you evaluate the solutions we’ve deemed the most viable manufacturing ERP vendors in the market.

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5 Ways to Prepare for Transformational Change

5 Ways to Prepare for Transformational Change

If you’re considering digital transformation, you probably know it entails significant operational changes. Whether you’re changing your entire business model or certain business processes, these transformational changes are challenging for organizations and their employees.

Many executives and project teams struggle to integrate organizational change management into their projects. Here are five ways you can prepare your organization for change:

 

5 Ways to Prepare for Change

1. Ensure executive alignment. Most organizations have at least one executive who is not on board with the goals of the project or is working against the project. Your executive team needs to be aligned – the success of all other change management activities depends on it. Executive involvement precedes executive buy-in. Asking executives questions, such as what they would like to achieve with new technology, can help establish buy-in.

2. Facilitate organizational readiness assessments. How can you implement transformational change without understanding your employees and your culture? Conducting an online survey and series of focus groups can give you an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your organizational culture. This insight can identify the root causes of change resistance and help you determine strategies for implementing change.

3. Conduct organizational impact assessments. You can simply inform employees that their jobs will change, or you can explain exactly how they will change. An organizational impact assessment helps you understand the degree of change and nature of change so you can effectively communicate this to employees. Communication should be targeted, personalized and continuous.

4. Customize your training materials to fit your business processes. While most ERP vendors have training materials for their products, the training isn’t customized. When you train employees without considering the nuances unique to your organization and industry, employees may experience confusion, and training won’t be nearly as effective. Training materials should be tailored to your business processes. A training program should cover more than just how to use the ERP system. Employees also need to know what processes and decisions need to happen outside the system.

5. Develop a comprehensive organizational change management plan. Merely focusing on end-user training and basic employee communications will not lead to long-term transformational change. An independent consultant can help you define the change management activities that will enable digital transformation.

 

How to Communicate With Employees

1. Look for signs of resistance. While employees may appear to embrace change, subtle forms of resistance may still exist. Be on the lookout for signs such as reduced productivity, absenteeism and conflict. When developing a communication plan, you should pay attention to change resistant employees.

2. Develop a communication plan. A clear understanding of stakeholder needs allows you to develop a targeted communication plan outlining key messages for each stakeholder group. The plan should also specify when and by whom information should be communicated.

3. Provide leadership. Executives should provide clear, consistent and repeated communication of project goals, and they should explain how these goals align with the organizational vision. Without this type of communication, employees won’t understand how new technology will help the organization grow, better serve customers and become more efficient. Instead they’ll assume the organization is using technology as a cost-cutting measure and a strategy for eliminating staff.

4. Facilitate two-way communication. When will training occur? When will changes roll out? How can I express my concerns? These are common questions employees have during digital transformation projects. Executives and the project team should hold meetings throughout the project so employees can ask questions and express concerns.

5. Establish a project brand. A brand is a value proposition that encourages loyalty. A brand for a digital transformation project should reinforce the importance of the project. A branding contest is a fun way to engage employees and help them feel a sense of ownership. When communicating with employees, don’t underestimate the power of branding.

6. Create a project portal website. This serves as a central location for employees to find timely project information. Available materials should include implementation plans, upcoming events and training schedules. Smaller organizations sometimes use a bulletin board to disseminate information in lieu of a website. A central location for information encourages collaboration and participation from all stakeholders.

7. Utilize change agents. These are people inside the organization responsible for communicating key messages to end-users. As trusted advisors and super-users of the new technology, they are likely to hear different thoughts, concerns and reactions than executives hear.

 

Is Organizational Change Management Really Necessary?

Many executives believe organizational change management is a luxury rather than a necessity – even if they’re undergoing a digital transformation that’s radically changing their operational model. Time and resource constraints prompt executives to cut organizational change management from their project budgets in an attempt to complete the project as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, executives that forgo change management typically find their projects require more time and money in the long run as they scramble to increase system usage after the technology is already implemented.

Executives that do believe in organizational change management often struggle to develop an actionable plan. If this describes you, we hope this blog post is a good starting point in preparing your organization for transformational change.

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SAP vs. Oracle vs. Microsoft Dynamics: 6 ERP Evaluation Criteria

SAP vs. Oracle vs. Microsoft Dynamics: 6 ERP Evaluation Criteria

If you’re a large, complex organization evaluating ERP software, you’re likely considering Tier I vendors like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics. How do you decide between these three viable options when internal bias and vendor enthusiasm threaten to sway you?

The best way to evaluate ERP systems is to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each according to the following six criteria.

 

ERP Evaluation Criteria

1. Deployment Options

Many ERP vendors have a flagship product where they invest most of their R&D. It behooves you to know which product this is and how it can be deployed. For example, Oracle ERP Cloud can only be deployed in the cloud. SAP S/4HANA, on the other hand, has multiple deployment options.

Most Tier I ERP vendors are heavily investing in cloud technology, but functionality is still limited compared to many on-premise solutions. This doesn’t mean every organization should select an on-premise solution. In the future, your ERP vendor may stop developing or even supporting their on-premise products. At that point, you’ll have to transition to the cloud, which is more complex and time-consuming than vendors claim.

While vendors are heavily investing in their cloud offerings and providing more robust functionality, the novelty of the cloud is still intimidating to many organizations. No one wants to be among the first to take the leap. They want a long list of references from companies of similar size and industry. Whether you’re evaluating SAP, Oracle or Microsoft Dynamics, their cloud implementation resume may be smaller than you expect.

2. Scalability

Software scalability refers to a system’s ability to handle an increasing amount of work and increasing number of users. SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics are built for large organizations with complex operations, but do you know which products and deployment models can continuously scale to support your growing business?

For example, if your customer base increases, the software should be able to handle an increasing number of users and transactions. It should continue to provide real-time data despite an increase in data volume.

Scalability can be expensive for some on-premise solutions. You might need to purchase additional servers to support the increased workload. It’s important to ask vendors what their products can support out-of-the-box, and if they can be scaled.

3. Technical Fit

SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics each have different functional strengths that make them well-suited for certain industries. While industry focus is a strong indicator of technical fit, your business requirements should have the final say. If you take the time to map your processes and define your business requirements, you can ask vendors to demonstrate specific functionality. You’re not expecting too much by asking a vendor to demo their ERP system based on your business requirements rather than presenting a canned sales demo.

While no ERP system can address every possible business requirement, you should look for a system that addresses your highest priority requirements. In addition, you should determine which of your processes should be standardized based on ERP functionality, and which processes are competitive differentiators that could require software customization.

Sharing your business requirements with vendors and allowing access to subject matter experts ensures vendors fully understand your business.

4. References

Vendors will make many claims about their system’s capabilities and ease of use. If you want to validate these claims, you should request references, so you can ask previous customers about their experience. What functionality did they implement, and did they achieve the desired results? Did the vendor offer ongoing support?

References should be from organizations similar to your own that have implemented similar functionality. If you’re considering cloud ERP, ask for references that have deployed their software in the cloud.

5. Return on Investment

While total cost of ownership is a common consideration during organizations’ ERP evaluations, return on investment is even more important. While Microsoft Dynamics may be less expensive then SAP or Oracle, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will save you money in the long run and deliver a high ROI. If you select an ERP system based on your organizational vision rather than total cost of ownership, you’ll realize more business benefits.

Developing a business case will help you quantify the benefits you expect. This will guide you in improving your processes and defining your business requirements. Your ERP system will be more likely to deliver a high ROI if it’s configured based on optimized processes.

If you’re comparing the ROI of several different ERP systems, you may find Panorama’s ROI Calculatoruseful.

6. Product Viability

Do you know the long-term outlook of the ERP solutions you’re evaluating? While SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics aren’t likely to go out of business any time soon, they may stop supporting certain products. It’s also worth knowing where a vendor plans to invest their R&D in the future, as it’s your responsibility to select a product that will support your organization in the long-term.

You should conduct industry research to determine if a software product is on par with its competition. If not, the vendor may be planning to discontinue the product. In the short-term, product stagnation hurts your business as you’ll spend a fortune on customization just to remain innovative.

 

Other Considerations

Before evaluating ERP software, you should define a digital strategy. What are the pain points of your current IT infrastructure, and what needs to change to support your organizational objectives?

While new technology can bring much needed change, the only way to enable long-term, large-scale change is through business process reengineering and organizational change management. Even if you select the best solution from among SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics, you won’t transform your organization unless you enable change by focusing on your people and processes.

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A CIO’s Guide to Digital Government

A CIO’s Guide to Digital Government

While private sector organizations are innovating their processes and technology to improve their customer service, government organizations must race to keep up with citizens’ increasingly higher expectations. In the midst of this race, government organizations are finding that digital government is much more challenging than it sounds.

Government CIOs are not giving up, though. They’re using digital transformation to provide better services to citizens, and they’re seeing benefits such as decreased operational costs and increased citizen engagement.

 

Top 5 Digital Government Challenges

1. Scalability – The societal benefits of digital government increase when delivered at scale, but government organizations are struggling to scale new technology and processes across all of their operations. They’re encountering silos and resistance to change that prevent their digital government initiatives from impacting citizens.

2. Accountability Without Authority – While government CIOs are increasingly accountable for the success of digital transformation projects, their level of authority remains limited. They struggle to obtain the authority to manage their own budgets and make hiring decisions. Sometimes, they’re even left out of crucial strategy meetings with fellow executives because their role is viewed as strictly technical.

3. Red Tape – Political agendas, existing legislation and procurement controls can create roadblocks to innovation. For example, CIOs considering IoT often encounter resistance from leadership due to security and privacy concerns. While these concerns are well-founded, there are new ways of mitigating risk that should be explored.

4. Myopic Focus – Some government organizations focus on the technical aspects of digital transformation as opposed to the people and process aspects because they don’t understand the project’s overall purpose. When organizations define project goals without considering the organization’s mission and vision, CIOs struggle to realize the full benefits of transformation. They have virtually no budget for organizational change management or business process reengineering.

The Big Picture: Introduction to Digital Transformation

5. Resource Constraints – Funding for the technical aspects of digital transformation is also scarce for many government organizations. CIOs who wish to implement the latest technology may find that their IT departments can’t provide the necessary back-end IT infrastructure. Without funding to hire additional resources, CIOs struggle to manage and scale digital government initiatives.

 

Tips for CIOs Pursuing Digital Government

  • Develop a Business Case – Digital transformation is more than a transition from “green screens” to modern ERP software. It’s a strategic, organization-wide initiative that changes how citizens interact with their government. Developing a business case will help you outline expected benefits that align with organizational goals and objectives. A business case justifies an IT investment by demonstrating the potential ROI.
  • Prioritize Integration – Technical integration and process integration enable government organizations to efficiently address citizens’ most pressing needs. Integration requires organizational alignment, collaboration and strong project governance. Strive for integration as disparate systems create inefficiencies that impede citizen engagement.
  • Optimize Inefficient Processes – Before selecting new ERP software, you should map your processes, improve your processes and define your requirements. The most inefficient processes deserve the most attention as they can bring the most value when optimized and automated. These processes should translate to “must-have” requirements, which determine software functionality.
  • Reduce Resistance to Change – Ensure the project team doesn’t get lost in the technical “weeds.” New technology, new processes and new operational models lead to monumental change throughout an organization. Developing an organizational change management plan can help you prepare employees for digital transformation.
  • Enhance Security – While technologies like IoT have many applications in the public sector, adoption has been slowed by security concerns. You can address these concerns by adopting API management practices that enable safe data transfer. Consider implementing advanced detection systems and backup systems.

 

Emerging Technology Trends in the Public Sector

  • Cloud technology adoption has been on the rise for government organizations that want cost savings and easier data sharing. Organizations are ensuring security by storing classified data on private clouds.
  • Blockchain technology has barely been adopted by the public sector, but once cost-effective solutions are developed for government, adoption is expected to increase. Government organizations that have experimented with blockchain have realized benefits such as increased security and efficiency.
  • Hyperconverged infrastructure combines all of an organization’s technology into a single platform. Many government organizations like this option for it’s scalability and cost-saving possibilities.
  • The Internet of Things holds great opportunity for government organizations. While the Department of Defense accounts for the majority of IoT spending, civilian agencies stand to benefit as well. For example, organizations could use IoT to improve their visibility into public transportation systems.

 

These are just a few of the technology trends you can incorporate into your digital government strategy. As a government CIO, you’re probably facing many roadblocks to adopting this technology, but you’re determined to improve operational efficiency and citizen engagement. If you develop a digital government strategy that prioritizes integration, security and organizational alignment, you can overcome some of the common roadblocks to government innovation.

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Advice for Global Organizations Pursuing Digital Transformation

Advice for Global Organizations Pursuing Digital Transformation

Digital transformation can be daunting for any organization, but it is especially challenging on a global scale.

Global organizations typically want to standardize business processes across international operations, but they also need the flexibility to serve diverse customers, employees, economies and regulatory bodies.

The decision to globalize or localize isn’t black and white. Every organization has different operational, organizational, cultural, regulatory and financial considerations. Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of standardization and differentiation. We’ll also provide tips on how to balance globalization with localization.

 

Benefits of Global Standardization

International organizations, particularly those that acquire other companies, often have non-standardized business processes. Standardization allows these organization to scale for growth by consolidating business processes. Consistent processes drive operational efficiency and enable global visibility into operations. Financial reporting, for example, is faster and easier when processes are standardized.

While standardization can require a large investment in business process reengineering, you’ll ensure that all processes at all locations are designed to bring you competitive advantage. Global organizations lean toward standardization when they want to deliver quality goods or services with a high degree of predictability.

 

Benefits of Localization

Localization reduces change resistance because you’re adapting to the unique needs and requirements of different locations. Instead of changing local business processes to align with processes at your headquarters, localization allows you to retain the unique processes suited for each location. Certain locations may need flexibility to manage data and transactions in local languages and currencies. Some countries have intricate requirements when it comes to taxes, currencies and regulatory reporting. Differentiating your processes based on location ensures you stay compliant and avoid penalties.

 

Balancing Globalization With Localization

If you want the best of both worlds, you should be strategic about which processes you standardize and which you differentiate. Some processes should always be standardized. These include processes such as back-office functions that enable a shared services strategy. Other processes, such as regulatory and reporting processes, should typically be localized. While you may want to localize customer-facing processes, you should probably globalize processes that don’t add as much value.

A balance between globalization and localization becomes even more important when you consider organizational change management. The need for organizational change management at global locations typically increases the more you standardize your processes. While standardization may save money in the long term, you’ll need to invest in extensive organizational change management in the short term. This means more than end-user training. It also involves communicating change impacts and project status updates.

Digital Transformation & ERP Boot Camp

Transform your people, processes and technology to achieve your business transformation objectives.

How Much Organizational Change Management?

The most challenging aspect of a global digital transformation might be aligning corporate culture around a singular goal. You must account for cultural differences and language differences.

Executive support is especially important during global projects as local entities may be extremely resistant to globalized processes. People can’t embrace what they don’t understand, so you must communicate the reasons for transformation and how it will benefit employees and the organization as a whole.

Organizational readiness assessments are also critical to global projects. You can assess risk by analyzing your organizational attributes as well as the characteristics of proposed changes.

 

How Much Software Customization?

Does globalizing your business processes reduce the amount of software customization you’ll need? Sometimes, but not always.

While you may be standardizing your processes based on a global standard, you’re not necessarily standardizing your processes based on software functionality. However, there is typically an overlap between globalized processes and processes that are standardized based on software functionality, as they both mostly involve non-value add processes. It’s probably safe to say that more globalization usually equals less customization (but more organizational change management).

Another strategy for reducing customization is to allow flexibility in each location’s choice of software and vendor. This can make globalization more difficult than usual but not impossible.

 

Defining a Support Structure

While you’re determining which of your processes should be globalized versus localized, you should consider whether your support structure will be globalized, localized or customized. Many companies choose to centralize ERP support and helpdesk functions, while others choose to offer decentralized support to cater to diverse locations. The sooner you define a support structure, the sooner end-users will adopt new processes. This is true for both on-premise and cloud ERP implementations.

 

Defining a Master Data Strategy

Master data is an important but overlooked aspect of the global vs. local conundrum. Not only do you need to cleanse and migrate master data, but you need to define how it will be managed going forward. For example, will local offices have the flexibility to manage their own local chart of accounts, or will changes require centralized and global governance? The same should be decided for other types of master data, including customer, supplier and inventory master records.

 

Final Piece of Advice

This may be your first global digital transformation, but it’s not ours. Our digital transformation and ERP systems experts understand the challenges of both globalization and localization and how to find the right balance based your organization’s unique objectives.

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Who Should be on Your Digital Transformation Project Team?

Who Should be on Your Digital Transformation Project Team?

If you’re pursuing digital transformation, you’re probably not enjoying the process of obtaining budget approval. Executives have a litany of questions, some of which you aren’t prepared to answer. While you can’t anticipate all of their questions, we will help you answer one of executives’ most common questions: “Who needs to be on the project team, and how much time will they need to dedicate to the project?”

Providing a detailed answer will require an understanding of project roles and responsibilities. You’ll have to step into the shoes of a project manager to learn what it takes to build a winning project team.

 

Project Team Structure

Depending on the size of the organization, project teams can range anywhere from 15 members to just a few. Successful project managers clearly define roles and responsibilities at the beginning of the project to ensure accountability and representation from key business functions.

They develop a project charter to assign responsibilities to both internal and external resources for each phase of the project. The charter defines exactly how decisions are made, issues are resolved and activities are completed. Project team members are assigned responsibilities in accordance with their strengths, experience level and bandwidth.

Project managers don’t delegate all responsibilities to the project team. For example, final sign-off on future state business processes and decisions about the organization’s operational model should be driven by the executive steering committee instead of the project team.

In a perfect world, the project team would be fully dedicated to the project, but that’s not feasible for most organizations. Nonetheless, the executive steering committee helps the project team prioritize work so the project is top priority. Some organizations hire external resources to ensure project team members don’t completely neglect their day-to-day jobs.

Project managers walk a fine line between the use of internal resources and external resources. A lack of external resources can mean limited expertise. On the other hand, a lack of internal resources can mean poor project ownership and a lack of organizational alignment.

An Overview of IT Staffing

Ideal Project Team Members

Project managers must identify skill sets and personality traits that contribute to digital transformation success. They work with the executive steering committee to select project team members in accordance with project scope, budget and resource requirements. The steering committee has a good understanding of project goals and organizational vision, so their input is valuable when choosing project team members.

Some organizations build their project team based on who they believe to be the smartest or most technically-skilled. While technical expertise and operational knowledge are important, communication skills are also valuable, especially when the project team is tasked with executing an organizational change management plan to engage and train employees.

Professors Kenneth Benne and Paul Sheats published a study, Functional Roles of Group Members, in which they identified key personality traits that contribute to strong teams. Here are five of those personality traits:

  1. The Cheerleader encourages other project team members to participate and recognizes them for their contributions. This role is useful for encouraging engagement on both the project team and throughout the organization.
  2. The Peacemaker helps project team members reach a consensus when compromise is necessary. Peacemakers focus on the success of the organization as a whole. This role is useful when defining and prioritizing business processes.
  3. The Sergeant-at-Arms ensures the project team meets deadlines and expectations while adhering to the organization’s core values. This role can help develop strong project controls and governance and gently remind team members of these guidelines.
  4. The Good-Humor Man relieves the tension and anxiety of digital transformation. The right amount of jest can lighten the mood and reenergize team members.
  5. The Contrarian is a critical thinker and innovator who is not afraid to share his/her opinion. This role can challenge project team members to think about the project from a people and process perspective instead of a technical perspective. The contrarian can also ensure that the project team preserves the organization’s competitive advantage during business process management.

 

Other Internal Resources

Digital transformation requires more than just a project team. Project managers also assemble an executive steering committee and a team of subject matter experts:

  • Executive Steering Committee – This group includes executives and members of the board of directors. The steering committee communicates the importance of the project and explains how it supports the organization’s mission and vision. They participate in milestone meetings regarding software recommendations, organizational alignment and organizational change management.
  • Subject Matter Experts – These are project advocates. Much like the core project team, this group includes representatives from each functional area. Subject matter experts participate in requirements gathering, requirements validation and vendor demonstrations.

 

Your Project Team

Now that you’ve put yourself in the shoes of a project manager, you can more easily estimate the resource requirements of your own digital transformation. How many and what type of resources will you need? Will you need to backfill resources or hire external team members?

Your project team structure mostly depends on the scope of your project. Some organizations take a bottom-up approach where they begin with technology selection, while others take a top-down approach where they begin with strategy alignment.

You can learn more about the top-down approach to transformation by watching our on-demand webinar, Pre-implementation Readiness: How to Prepare for ERP Selection.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With a Digital Transformation Expert!

Global Chamber Denver Hosts Consular Corps of Colorado at Buell Mansion

Global Chamber Denver Hosts Consular Corps of Colorado at Buell Mansion

Panorama supports organizations all over the world, and we are happy to promote Denver trade. We are a local Denver-based boutique firm that supports its home state, while promoting global trade as well as helping businesses compete globally. Panorama’s Vanessa Davison recently sponsored an event for the Colorado Consular Corps (CCC). The following press release was originally published The South Metro Villager:

The mission of Global Chamber Denver (GCD), headed by former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeffrey Campos, is “to grow business from anywhere to anywhere while collaborating with every organization.” On May 9, Campos, along with GCD board chair Scott Nelson, hosted a reception for the members of the Colorado Consular Corps (CCC) at the scenic Buell Mansion in Cherry Hills Village. Sponsors of the event included Vanessa Davison of Panorama Consulting Solutions and Jordan Friedman of JF Global CPA. DiFrancos.com of Denver catered the gathering. The Colorado Consular Corps has been a local fixture for more than sixty years. Its members include regular full-time consulates representing Canada, China, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom, along with honorary consulates for another forty countries around the globe. “The CCC strives to increase cooperation and communication among its members; to increase awareness of foreign and international issues in Colorado and to provide information to Colorado residents about visas, laws, regulations, passport issues and more pertaining to each host country.” The dean of the CCC is Deborah A. Palmieri, Ph.D., Honorary Consul General of the Russian Federation. The beautiful weather and picturesque grounds provided an opportunity for CCC members to mix and mingle with leaders of government and industry, including Cherry Hills Village Mayor Laura Christman, RTD Board Chair Doug Tisdale, political TV personality Aaron Harber, public affairs consultant and former governor’s chief of staff Jim Carpenter, and Gilberto Cisneros, president and CEO of Chamber of the Americas.

Do You Have Realistic Expectations for Your Technology Transformation?

Do You Have Realistic Expectations for Your Technology Transformation?

Many organizations begin technology transformations with the goal of selecting ERP software that will bring a high ROI and measurable business benefits. They soon realize the transformation is much more complex than they expected, and the benefits are much more elusive.

So, how do you set realistic expectations for the selection and implementation process? The first step is understanding the scope of change and the role technology will play in your transformation. At one end of the change spectrum, technology is used to support existing processes. At the other, technology enables process redesign and supports changes to an organization’s business model.

In the latter case, technology is not the focus of the project. Instead, the project team focuses on transitioning people and processes. Before selecting technology, the organization defines a corporate strategy and technology strategy and designs new business processes to support their vision. Reengineered business processes mean new roles and responsibilities for employees. Both business process reengineering and organizational change management account for significant time, budget and resources. If you’re at the other end of the change spectrum, your expectations will look very different.

Still not sure what level of change your project entails? Ask yourself why you’re implementing new technology in the first place. Maybe you’re changing your business model, experiencing rapid growth or expanding into new markets. If so, your technology transformation could be more aptly called a business transformation, as you will experience significant changes to not only your technology but also your people and processes.

Pre-implementation Readiness: How to Prepare for ERP Selection

How to Set Expectations

Once you’ve determined the scope of change, you can begin developing a business case. Some organizations use business cases to justify their investments. Others use business cases to estimate their return on investment. In both cases, you will need realistic expectations.

By benchmarking against technology transformations at similar organizations, you can ensure you’re setting achievable goals. Executives, the project team and other stakeholders should have a clear understanding of the expected timeline, budget, resource allocation and benefits realization. If issues arise, they should be informed so they can readjust their expectations. It’s normal for slight adjustments to occur throughout the project.

 

What to Expect

The total cost of ownership of an ERP system can be difficult to determine. Don’t assume that smaller vendors will be substantially cheaper than large vendors. The cost depends on several factors, such as level of customization. Also, don’t assume that cloud solutions will be less expensive than on-premise solutions. The cloud may be cheaper upfront, but more expensive over time.

The project timeline can also be difficult to estimate. Sometimes, years can go by before you realize all expected business benefits. The project itself can take years, so add a few years on to this, and you have your benefits realization timeline. The selection phase can take up to six months.

To make matters more difficult, the budget and timeline are both subject to change. During the span of a technology transformation, you will undergo normal organizational changes unrelated to the project, such as staff turnover. You should take this into account when developing a project plan.

Some changes to budget and timeline are avoidable, however. Accounting for all project activities upfront will help you avoid surprises. Here’s a partial list of overlooked activities to include in your project plan:

  • Quantifying specific benefits you hope to achieve, such as visibility into real-time data, visibility across functional areas, reduced inventory and decreased days to close
  • Developing a master data management strategy and data migration strategy
  • Conducting an organizational readiness assessment
  • Developing and executing an organizational change management plan
  • Assessing staffing needs for each phase of the project, and possibly augmenting your staff with outside resources
  • Working with functional leads to map current and future state business processes and identify pain points
  • Working with functional leads to define requirements, validate requirements and schedule software demos
  • Recruiting stakeholders from different departments, business units and locations to help define requirements
  • Distributing workshop guides to prepare employees for requirements gathering workshops
  • Prioritizing functional requirements into three categories (mandatory, value-add, nice to have)
  • Balancing the need for software customization with the cost of training
  • Reskilling employees whose jobs will become automated
  • Meeting with the vendor for an organizational design session

 

Why Set Expectations

When your organization needs new ERP software, it’s tempting to just focus on technology. In many cases, CIOs are expected to do so. However, if you want to set realistic expectations, you must account for the people and process aspects of technology transformation. These account for significant time, money and resources.

You should also develop a business case to give executives an idea of the ROI and business benefits they should expect – and articulate the benefits realization timeframe. Most importantly, you should understand why you’re implementing new ERP software, so you can determine the scope of change.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation With a Digital Transformation Expert!

The Importance of Measuring Customer Experience

The Importance of Measuring Customer Experience

Measuring customer experience isn’t easy, but it is essential if you hope to improve your customer experience. Understanding the drivers of customer satisfaction can help you determine where to invest your time and money.

So, what metrics should you measure? What technology should you use? And, what obstacles should you expect?

 

Challenges of Measuring Customer Experience

  • New Variables – Customer expectations have drastically changed during the last decade, so drivers of satisfaction you measured in the past may not be the same variables that matter today. Today’s customers expect self-service, convenience and personalization. Customer touchpoints span more channels than ever before, so you’ll need to track more metrics and consider the unique metrics of each channel.
  • Lack of Integration – Many organizations haven’t integrated their ERP system, or main system of record, with their ecommerce system or content management platform. Without one version of truth, customer metrics are difficult to decipher.
  • Lack of Ownership – Even organizations that have actionable customer metrics struggle to decipher them simply because they didn’t assign data ownership. Should the sales department be responsible for some metrics, while the marketing department is responsible for others? Which decision makers need access to dashboards? These ownership decisions baffle many organizations.

Using Digital Optimization to Increase Customer Loyalty

Tools for Measuring Customer Experience

Before you measure customer experience, you need processes and tools for collecting quantitative and qualitative data. Most organizations collect this data within their CRM systems, which integrate with their ERP systems. The ERP system provides additional insights from the business as a whole and offers advanced analytics capabilities.

Common sources of data include billing, help desk, web analytics and social media. Some organizations gather additional data from focus groups and customer surveys. Ideally, all of these data sources should flow into an ERP system to ensure a single version of truth.

Some technology falls short when it comes to measuring customer experience. Based on your business strategy and IT strategy, you can evaluate your current systems to determine where you should invest in new technology.

The best technology for measuring customer experience integrates data from multiple channels and supports customizable dashboards. The technology should also include business intelligence functionality, as this will help you diagnose root causes and predict potential outcomes.

What other functionality should you consider? Requirements gathering workshops can help you determine this. Some organizations involve their customers in the requirements gathering process by asking them how they’d like to interact with the company and what would make their lives easier.

Most importantly, don’t look for the lowest cost solution, but the solution with the highest ROI potential.

Best Practices for Measuring Customer Experience

Common customer experience metrics include customer satisfaction and net promoter score. These metrics can be cross-referenced with other metrics or insight to determine the drivers of satisfaction. For example, if a customer has a high customer satisfaction score, you can investigate contributing factors, such as website user experience. This helps you prioritize improvement efforts based on their level of impact.

Customer satisfaction and net promoter score can each be measured through a single, straightforward question on a customer survey. Net promoter score measures customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend. You can divide responses into three categories: Promoters, Passives and Detractors.

In addition to top-level metrics, you should determine metrics for each stage of the customer journey as well as each transactional touchpoint. You can correlate these with top-level metrics as well as operational data, such as sales figures and HR data.

A customer journey map is useful in this process as it helps you make sense of both quantitative and qualitative data. As you identify pain points throughout the customer journey, you may generate ideas for new product or service offerings. This may also give you ideas for process improvements, in terms of customer interaction processes as well as product or service rollout processes. You may also want to track customer buying histories and preferences as this will help you improve targeting and personalization.

Almost as important as what to track is who should track it. Your sales and marketing departments should each be accountable for tracking and communicating certain KPIs. These departments should agree on how metrics should be interpreted and acted upon. One way to interpret customer experience metrics is by benchmarking against your direct competitors as well as industry leaders. This insight may help you think of innovative ways to serve customers.

Customer satisfaction is not just the responsibility of sales and marketing. Your entire organization should have a customer-focused mindset, but this doesn’t happen overnight. If you appoint change agents in every department, they can ensure that actionable insights make their way to decision makers.

Creating customized dashboards for decision makers and holding regular meetings will enable you to act on data in real-time and make continuous improvements. If you have a call center, your reps should have easy access to customer feedback, so they can make informed and timely decisions.

Measuring Customer Experience to Transform Your Organization

For many organizations, providing an excellent customer experience is part of their competitive advantage. A positive customer experience can lead to repeat business, which is the lifeblood of most organizations.

If your organization is customer-centric and dedicates time and resources to measuring customer experience, you may want to consider a digital transformation initiative – you can use customer metrics to design new service offerings and new ways of interacting with customers.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Digital Strategy Consultation With a Digital Transformation Expert!

Are You Making the Most of Digital Manufacturing?

Are You Making the Most of Digital Manufacturing?

What is your manufacturing model? Is it mass production or digital manufacturing? Most manufacturers will say they’re trying to move to digital manufacturing, but are they prepared to realize the full benefits of their digital strategies?

Digitizing every phase of your supply chain is only half the battle. Digital manufacturing also entails integration of disparate systems, processes and machines. Integration enables real-time decision making based on real-time data. Digital manufacturing isn’t just about automating processes; it’s about using intelligence from multiple technologies to optimize processes and improve product design.

2018 Top 12 Manufacturing ERP Systems Report

How to Realize the Benefits of Digital Manufacturing

Even if you already have all of the manufacturing technology you think you need, it never hurts to reevaluate your current state:

  • Define a Digital Strategy – Your digital strategy should be aligned with your organizational vision. What technology do you currently have, and what technology should you implement to achieve your goals? More importantly, how will you integrate this technology?
  • Develop a Business Case – You should set ambitious but realistic KPIs and continually monitor your progress.
  • Obtain Executive Buy-in – We’ve included this in several blogs. It will probably be in every blog. That’s how important it is. Not only do you need executive support, but you need a core team with stakeholders from each functional area.
  • Streamline Your Processes – You should begin business process management before selecting technology. Inefficient processes cannot be fixed with technology alone.
  • Prove Value – Use proof of concepts to demonstrate the value of digital manufacturing. Early wins show employees how they can benefit from upcoming changes.
  • Communicate – Even with a proof of value, employees may still worry about being replaced by a robot. You should remind them that digital manufacturing will free them to focus on more important tasks.
  • Develop Essential Skillsets – You will need digital skills, such as big data analytics, automation, cybersecurity and mechatronics.
  • Define a Business Intelligence Strategy – Who will be responsible for analyzing and acting on business intelligence from the factory floor? What processes will you need to implement to streamline decision making?

 

Finding an ERP System to Support Digital Manufacturing

While ERP software isn’t the only technology you need for modernizing your manufacturing processes, it often is the backbone of the full suite of technologies that gather, store and analyze your data.

Many ERP software vendors have been quick to respond to the evolving needs of manufacturers. They’ve committed to building capabilities such as IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain directly into their cloud offerings. Other vendors use API to connect to external applications.

IoT is an essential component to integrate into your ERP system as it gathers sensor data from the supply chain and provides actionable analytics on design issues, lead time, maintenance needs, inventory levels, energy consumption and even the customer experience. Housed in the ERP system, these analytics can be reviewed by supervisors and communicated to decision makers on the shop floor.

When evaluating ERP systems, you should assess their ability to aggregate data from key areas of your supply chain.

 

Is Digital Manufacturing Improving Your Operations?

So, you’ve selected an ERP system and integrated it with advanced manufacturing technologies. What benefits should you expect? Here’s a partial list:

Here’s a bit more detail on a few of these benefits:

  1. Easier Consumer Product Customization – Whether you’re selling directly to consumers or to other businesses, you need to be flexible and responsive. Customer needs constantly change, and they expect quick response times. Five years ago, it wasn’t economically viable to produce smaller quantities of customized products. Now, this is faster and cheaper thanks to 3D printing and digital collaboration with contract manufacturers. Mass customization is also more feasible with today’s technologies.
  2. Better Decision Making – The masses of data contained in ERP systems become manageable when integrated with digital manufacturing technology. IoT brings actionable data to the forefront and alerts managers in real time. Smart machines can also alert managers of impending maintenance needs.
  3. Continuous Innovation – The same data that improves real-time decision making can be used to drive continuous innovation. Customer experience data helps product managers design better products. Product managers can also rely on artificial intelligence to determine what factors improve production quality.

 

Who’s Adopting Manufacturing Technologies?

Few manufacturers have implemented all of the technologies mentioned in this article, and even fewer have done so successfully. While fully digitizing and integrating your supply chain seems like an ambitious endeavor, manufacturers who move first will realize benefits unachievable for slower moving competitors.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Digital Strategy Consultation With a Digital Transformation Expert!

What Change Management Methodology Do You Need for Digital Transformation?

What Change Management Methodology Do You Need for Digital Transformation?

You may have noticed the ERP consulting industry moving away from the term “ERP implementation” in favor of “digital transformation.” This isn’t surprising as ERP implementations have a bad reputation – they often go over budget and over schedule and fail to realize significant business benefits. While digital transformation does involve ERP or other technology, “ERP implementation” insufficiently describes initiatives involving large-scale change to people and processes.

Rarely will an ERP implementation return a positive ROI. Digital transformation, on the other hand, can create competitive advantage and position your organization for future growth – but not without a detailed change management strategy and a strong change management methodology.

Top 10 Change Management Coaching Tips for Digital Transformation

What is Large-scale Change?

If your initiative is truly a digital transformation, that means you’re changing more than your technology – you’re undergoing large-scale change and fundamentally altering structures, processes and employees’ day-to-day jobs. If new technology is merely enhancing one of these elements, then you’re likely experiencing small-scale change. You’ll still need a change management methodology, but it will account for a smaller percentage of your project budget.

Whenever an organization implements new technology, it should consider the possibility of large-scale change. New technology is an opportunity to reengineer business processes and improve efficiency. This proves more difficult after a technology solution is already in place. Maybe you want to stick to business as usual for now, but what about five years down the road when you want to pursue digital transformation? Technology configured for your old business processes may not support new processes, at least without extensive customization.

That’s not to say you can’t pursue a change management initiative without implementing new technology. Many organizations want to transform their culture or introduce incremental process improvements without touching technology. However, a full-scale business process reengineering initiative typically necessitates at least an evaluation of your current technology.

 

How to Implement Large-scale Change

Three words: Organizational change management. That’s the only way to successfully change your people, processes and technology. You may have heard it called people enablementworkforce transition or business process implementation, but the most accurate term is organizational change management, as it encompasses everything from communications to training.

Here’s a high-level overview of an effective change management methodology:

1. Prepare for Change – You should perform a risk analysis and assess your organizational readiness. This involves identifying the characteristics of change as well as organizational attributes, such as culture and leadership style. These assessments set the stage for developing a change management strategy roadmap, which includes a proposed change management team as well as a sponsorship model.

Executive sponsorship is key for project success. Executive sponsors should secure resources for the project team, encourage manager buy-in and educate employees about upcoming changes.

2. Manage Change – Following your change management roadmap, you can develop a communications plan, resistance management plan and training plan. A communications plan involves a stakeholder assessment and an outline of key messages. When developing a training plan, you should conduct a needs assessment and gap analysis, then document your business requirements.

Employees and executives have different perspectives on change. While the executive might see process efficiency and cost savings, the employee sees new required skills, changes to their work environment and a possible loss of status. That’s why you need a change management methodology that addresses communication, resistance management and training.

3. Reinforce Change – You should gather feedback from employees to assess the results of change management activities. Identifying root causes and pockets of resistance will help you implement corrective action. If some of your changes are successful, you should celebrate these to ensure continued success.

 

Reducing Resistance to Change

Executives hear the word “change” and think of cost savings and efficiency gains. Employees hear the word “change” and think of additional responsibility and possible job loss. Unsurprisingly, employees almost always resist organizational change.

Employees may refuse to learn new processes, or they may speak negatively about the project amongst coworkers. This can slow down your digital transformation, and you might experience quality problems and reduced productivity. If employees don’t use your new software or follow new business processes, you won’t achieve the business benefits you expect.

One way to reduce resistance to change is to increase employee involvement. For example, employees can help brand the project. You can run a contest and ask them to submit potential project names and project logos.

You can also reduce resistance by answering key questions: Why are we changing? What are we changing? Who will be changing? Most importantly, you should answer the question, What’s in it for me? You should explain how employees will benefit from the project, not just how the organization will benefit.

 

Why are Most Change Efforts Unsuccessful?

  1. Lack of Executive Sponsorship – Executives should demonstrate support for the digital transformation and remain visible throughout the project. They should also build a coalition of other sponsors.
  2. Ignoring the “People Side” of Change – You may be changing processes and technology, but employees will need to change too. They will have new roles and responsibilities, and if they don’t embrace these, your change management initiative may fail.
  3. Lack of Dedicated Resources – The number of project resources you will need depends on the nature of change, scope of change, geographical distribution and project phase. A lack of resources translates to a lack of ownership and accountability.
  4. Ignoring Resistance to Change – You can identify resistance to change by seeking feedback through meetings, interviews and focus groups.
  5. No Communications Plan – Your plan should outline messaging, timing and audience. Typically, senior leadership and project leads will deliver these messages, which will be unique to each audience and each project phase.

 

The ideal change management methodology depends on the scope of change. Digital transformation typically involves large-scale change that entails strong executive sponsorship, a targeted communications plan and a large team of dedicated resources.

Schedule a Free 30-minute Change Management Consultation with a Digital Transformation Expert!

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