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Selecting an ERP System That Fits Your Agency’s Budget

iStock 000075066677 MediumWith literally hundreds of ERP software packages to choose from, selecting the right one for your government institution based on your specific needs can be stressful, to say the least. Throw in the threat of some type of operational disruption occurring at go-live and the selection process itself can add a gray hair or two.

Many of the indicators of a successful ERP implementation are quantitative and in the form of budgetary and timeline measures. If your ERP project runs over budget and/or takes longer than expected to complete, your boss probably won’t be too happy with you. He or she might be asking you the tough questions such as, “Why did this happen?” and “How could we have prevented this?”

Download our white paper, The Need for Public Sector Innovation: Facing the Challenges Posed by Public Sector IT Initiatives.

No one ever plans to fail; rather there is just a failure to plan. It doesn’t matter if the purchasing decision is for a new ERP system or for a box of cookies; the idea is the same – one must think before they act. Setting realistic expectations for what you need and planning ahead will reduce the risk of your ERP implementation going over schedule and over budget.

Below are three common reasons that ERP implementations can quickly become out-of-hand and out-of-scope:

1. Poor vendor demonstrations and negotiations. ERP software vendors are very good at showing what their software is good at and very good at not showing what their software is not good at. Without an experienced and technology-agnostic ERP implementation partner who can help manage software demonstrations, the vendors will be showing all the bells and whistles of their software and not necessarily what your government institution specifically needs to see. This oftentimes leads to the selection of ERP software that is not the best fit. The expected benefits that would have been realized are reduced and you are forced to backtrack and spend more time and money to gain additional functionality that should have been included from the beginning.

2. A “cookie cutter approach” was taken during ERP selection. In this approach, the ERP vendor uses an RFP and implementation plan from prior engagements and modifies it to better fit your specific needs. This is a “one-size-fits-all” approach that squeezes your government institution into the vendor’s template. The vendor does not take the time to get to know your agency, understand your operational model, get to know your people and find the right fit for your processes.

3. Choosing the wrong consulting firm. Certain consulting firms claim to be “independent” and “technology-agnostic” yet demonstrate their value proposition by participating in vendor negotiation savings for their clients. These consulting firms have been known to have prior agreements with ERP vendors, allowing them to artificially inflate their initial cost estimates so the consultants can purport larger discounts earned for their clients during the negotiation process.

Below are three tips for selecting the right ERP software:

1. Understand the difference between a want and a need. As with any purchasing decision, the trick is to determine what your government institution really needs and then find what best meets those requirements. What is a ‘must-have’ and what is a ‘nice-to-have?’

2. Establish and document a project schedule before implementation. Beware of optimistic schedules as they will only result in cost and duration overruns further down the road. You do not want your ERP implementation to be over budget because of unspecified costs that were not defined by the vendor.

3. When you’re choosing an ERP vendor you want a partner and not just a provider. Support throughout the full lifecycle of an ERP implementation calls for a long-term relationship and should not be seen as a commodity.

Written by Daniel Rivero de Aguilar, Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

Navigating the Stages of Public Sector ERP Stress

Disaster PhotoWith the anticipation of a complex project like an ERP implementation, it is vital to both understand and plan for the stages of stress that your organization and its employees will undergo. The three stages of ERP stress are not very different from the stages of stress in other areas of our lives. During a stressful experience, the human body will typically respond in three unique stages: alarm, resistance and exhaustion. Public sector organizations undergoing an ERP implementation follow a similar pattern:

1.   Alarm Stage. This is our first response to a stressor. It is the stage in which our “fight-or-flight” instincts kick in because we have encountered a stressful situation and our body is reacting in defense. This isn’t any different from an organization’s typical reaction to an ERP implementation. In order to adhere to an unrealistic budget and timeline, government entities often will appoint a project manager with little to no technical or project management experience. An underqualified project manager may struggle to manage the project scope, budget and timeline, all of which are crucial to ERP success.

Project managers who have little experience in ERP selection will begin the project with a common RFP process. However, the RFP process commonly used for IT initiatives is insufficient. An ERP system is a significant investment and should be carefully selected to meet your organization’s unique requirements. The common RFP process will overlook many of these requirements, and vendors can appear more fitting than they truly are. Typically, the lowest bidder of the RFP will win the contract, only to have the organization unveil all the discrepancies between system functionality and its requirements. This is a major driver of over-budget ERP implementations and a major driver of stress.

2.   Resistance Stage. In the resistance stage, the human body will respond to the stressor with maximum resistance. Similarly, ERP implementations commonly meet a high level of resistance from end-users. Public sector ERP implementations tend to be very “top-heavy” projects, meaning most decisions and motivations for the project are driven by upper management. When the C-suite fails to communicate with end-users, end-users will not feel invested and engaged in the project but frustrated and resentful. What most organizations don’t understand is that an ERP implementation is not solely an IT project – it is, most importantly, an organizational change project. Employee resistance can be mitigated through effective organizational change management, allowing organizations to achieve a higher level of employee buy-in and a lower level of resistance.

3.   Exhaustion Stage. After a period of resistance, the human body is likely to enter the exhaustion stage. In this stage, we become weak and tired, with limited ability for normal functioning. This stage is highly relatable to the exhaustion experienced during an ERP implementation. In the public sector, employees are at full capacity with their day-to-day responsibilities, and their potential involvement with such a large project is limited. Without the engagement and dedication of subject matter experts (SMEs) in your organization, important ERP project tasks are likely to be delayed or overlooked. By conducting a project feasibility analysis, organizations can adequately plan for resource constraints and reduce employee exhaustion.

Although ERP implementations may be stressful, organizations can choose whether or not to leverage ERP consultants to navigate the stages of ERP stress. Panorama’s ERP consultants understand how to partner with your internal project manager to assist in not only the RFP process, but also the management of your project’s scope, budget and timeline. Your organization does not have to battle stress on its own.

Learn more about finding new ways to be achieve public sector ERP success by downloading our white paper, The Need for Public Sector Innovation: Facing the Challenges Posed by Public Sector IT Initiatives.

Using ERP Technology to Increase Public Sector Innovation

Public sector technology has brought us to a unique time in history. Government organizations now have the opportunity to take advantage of cost-effective innovation that delivers a high return on citizenship (ROC). Due to the ongoing financial crisis and budget cuts, government CIO’s, IT managers and civil servants are looking for ways to save money while implementing the best possible technology in their agencies and organizations.

If public sector leaders want to implement innovative technology, they need to think outside-of-the-cubicle. Innovation has underappreciated strategic value that extends beyond cost savings and streamlined procurement. In the public sector, innovation can enable government cooperation, interagency collaboration, shared services, flexible working environments and common compliance standards in the federal government.

Learn more by downloading our White Paper, Organizational Change Management in Public Sector ERP Implementations.

In order to reap all of the benefits of innovative technology, public sector leaders must work together to define an ideal future-state and a clear strategic roadmap. A vision of the final network, infrastructure and capability is easy to put down on paper but very difficult to achieve. While this takes cooperation and patience, it is the necessary foundation for success.

How far should CIOs and IT managers go to ensure that cost effective innovation reaches its potential? Very far – innovation is a journey that most certainly will require new thinking. Changing processes and altering “business as usual” is a necessary component of innovation and should be viewed as a way to enhance cooperation and collaboration rather than simply to save money.

On the surface, these are simple concepts, but in practice, they are very difficult to implement. An organizational change management strategy will absolutely be necessary. Technology is the easy part of collaboration; the people-side always proves more difficult and requires significant change management.

The key to IT success is learning to repurpose existing technologies and processes to yield more efficiency. By reaching out to other successful public sector IT project managers and government portfolio leaders, you can learn from their success.

Written by Rich Farrell, Senior Account Executive at Panorama Consulting Solutions. 

Defining Goals and Objectives for Your Agency

All types of organizations, from commercial to government, can benefit from an ERP implementation. Efficiency gains and increased data visibility are two outcomes of a successful ERP implementation that are not relegated to any particular type of organization. To achieve these outcomes, both private and public sector organizations should define goals and objectives during the early stages of an ERP implementation.

The following guidelines are indispensable when defining goals and objectives:

1. Understand the risks. Government agencies face risks in an ERP project beyond those of private sector organizations. Budgets, in particular, are inflexible and often not created with contingency in mind. Unexpected costs are a constant risk in an ERP implementation, and, when added up, can quickly decimate a hastily constructed project budget. While it may be painful to do so, commercial organizations can adjust and absorb unexpected project costs with an alacrity not enjoyed by most government agencies. Furthermore, government agencies tend to be far more exposed to public scrutiny – especially when it comes to ERP failure – than most commercial and non-governmental organizations. A failed government ERP implementation is viewed as a waste of taxpayer money, which invites criticism and often has lasting repercussions. When setting goals and objectives, it is important to consider that the stakes are higher for government agencies.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, Lessons Learned From a Government ERP Failure.

2. Be realistic. Given the risks involved in an ERP implementation, the importance of realistic goals cannot be overstated. Aggressive go-live dates and shoestring budgets are hallmarks of ERP failure. While no project has the luxury of unlimited funds and time, realistic estimates benchmarked against ERP projects in organizations of similar size is a good place to start. Benefits are not magically realized upon go-live, and it is not uncommon for an organization to take up to a year after go-live to truly begin seeing efficiency gains. A healthy dose of pragmatism in the early stages of a project can mean the difference between a successful implementation and a disastrous miscalculation.

3. Plan, Plan, Plan! Government agencies should assign a timeframe, cost and scope to every aspect of their project, especially the goals and objectives. Be sure to plan for contingencies and variables, such as peak seasons, elections and funding cycles. Like key performance indicators (KPIs), goals and objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). This will help your organization build a framework for assessing the cost, duration and scope of your ERP project.

By assessing risks with a rational understanding of expectations, government agencies can set the right goals and objectives to prepare them for a successful project delivered on-time, on-budget and within-scope.

Is Your ERP Consultant Biased?

As I shopping this past weekend, I had an interesting experience at one particular store. The friendly salesperson accompanied me around their store for an entire hour. She made great suggestions and steered me away from some “bad choices.” After leaving the store, I was grateful for getting so much done but I was a little perplexed at the amount I ended up spending. It led me to think, “How much can we really trust our advisors when making important decisions and purchases?”

Similar to the concept of commission for many retailers, the majority of ERP consulting firms are aligned with one or more ERP software vendors. If the consulting firm is successful in recruiting new business to the ERP vendor they are aligned with, it will receive significant kickbacks from the contract. Of course, these motives are not always easily detected or understood because often, the ERP consultants will portray themselves as trusted and unbiased advisors. This dawned on me as I realized my “trusted shopping advisor” was also looking out for her own interests as she recommended the most expensive options throughout the store. I had fallen for her strategy!

Watch our on-demand webinar, How to Spot ERP Implementation Warning Signs and Integrate Quality Assurance Into Your Project

So in light of the holiday season, I wanted to share some important questions for you to ask your “trusted advisors” in order to help you navigate through the clever sales strategies of ERP consulting firms:

1.   Which ERP software systems have you evaluated for previous clients?  If the consulting firm is aligned with one or more ERP software vendors, they will typically evaluate the same ERP vendors in the long and short lists for the majority of their clients. This demonstrates that they may not be fairly considering ERP systems which may be a better fit for your institution. With nearly 200 ERP systems out there, it is crucial for you to work with ERP consultants who will independently identify the best software for your unique processes.

2.   Do you earn money or other incentives from software sales? Although it may be challenging to obtain an honest answer for this question, it doesn’t hurt to directly ask this. Nearly 100% of ERP consultants earn revenue by selling software or recommending specific products to their clients.

3.   Will you be charging based on the savings you negotiate on our behalf in the software purchase? Even if a consulting firm indicates they do not make any money from software sales or recommendations, they may be receiving incentives indirectly through other avenues. For example, a common rigged approach is collaborating with select ERP software vendors to present a higher initial price. Then, the consultants will present a lower negotiated price. Unbeknown to you, the initial price was artificially inflated and the consultants will receive an incentive on the back end.

Just like you wouldn’t want to buy an expensive present that the person will end up hating, you also do not want to commit to an ERP system that will be a poor fit for your government institution. In Panorama’s experience, we have seen how detrimental the wrong ERP software can be to government institutions trying to serve citizens and make a high socioeconomic impact. During ERP selection, it is important to perform adequate due diligence to ensure you are working with ERP consultants – such as Panorama’s team of independent ERP consultants – who do not have a hidden agenda and are truly on your team.

Navigating the Three Stages of ERP Stress

businessman looking at business strategy on blackboard

1.   Alarm Stage. This is our first response to a stressor. It is the stage in which our “fight-or-flight” instincts kick in because we have encountered a stressful situation and our body is reacting in defense. This isn’t any different from an organization’s typical reaction to an ERP implementation. In order to adhere to an unrealistic budget and timeline, government entities often will appoint a project manager with little to no technical or project management experience. An underqualified project manager may struggle to manage the project scope, budget and timeline, all of which are crucial to ERP success.

Take a look at our white paper, Lessons Learned From a Government ERP Failure.

Project managers who have little experience in ERP selection will begin the project with a common RFP process. However, the RFP process commonly used for IT initiatives is insufficient. An ERP system is a significant investment and should be carefully selected to meet your organization’s unique requirements. The common RFP process will overlook many of these requirements, and vendors can appear more fitting than they truly are. Typically, the lowest bidder of the RFP will win the contract, only to have the organization unveil all the discrepancies between system functionality and its requirements. This is a major driver of over-budget ERP implementations and a major driver of stress.

2.   Resistance Stage. In the resistance stage, the human body will respond to the stressor with maximum resistance. Similarly, ERP implementations commonly meet a high level of resistance from end-users. Public sector ERP implementations tend to be very “top-heavy” projects, meaning most decisions and motivations for the project are driven by upper management. When the C-suite fails to communicate with end-users, end-users will not feel invested and engaged in the project but frustrated and resentful. What most organizations don’t understand is that an ERP implementation is not solely an IT project – it is, most importantly, an organizational change project. Employee resistance can be mitigated through effective organizational change management, allowing organizations to achieve a higher level of employee buy-in and a lower level of resistance.

3.   Exhaustion Stage. After a period of resistance, the human body is likely to enter the exhaustion stage. In this stage, we become weak and tired, with limited ability for normal functioning. This stage is highly relatable to the exhaustion experienced during an ERP implementation. In the public sector, employees are at full capacity with their day-to-day responsibilities, and their potential involvement with such a large project is limited. Without the engagement and dedication of subject matter experts (SMEs) in your organization, important ERP project tasks are likely to be delayed or overlooked. By conducting a project feasibility analysis, organizations can adequately plan for resource constraints and reduce employee exhaustion.

Although ERP implementations may be stressful, organizations can choose whether or not to leverage ERP consultants to navigate the stages of ERP stress. Panorama’s ERP consultants understand how to partner with your internal project manager to assist in not only the RFP process, but also the management of your project’s scope, budget and timeline. Your organization does not have to battle stress on its own.

What to Look for When Hiring a Consultant for the Public Sector

While many firms claim to be “ERP consultants,” claiming is not the same as actually being a competent and seasoned ERP consultant, particularly in the public sector. What is a government CIO or G6 to do when an ERP system is required? How do they find a consultant who will streamline their processes, provide sage advice and deliver a successful go-live? Well, my friends, you are in luck. We have a handy five-step method to help guide your choice:

1. Recent experience. Ensure your prospective consulting team has significant and recent experience implementing ERP software, particularly in the public sector. If you are nonprofit, look for firms with a great deal of experience with nonprofits. If you are in the federal government, ask for the consultants to provide references with other federal government organizations of similar size and mission. Ask for references, check the references and ask the hard questions: How will they handle scope, changes, requirement creep, schedule and budget? A key indicator of experience is having multiple industry studies, white papers and case studies published by the consulting team.

2. Independence. Are the consultants truly independent or tied to a specific ERP system? While many competent consulting firms have ties to specific ERP vendors, consider selecting an independent consulting team that will help you select the right software for your organization. It is better to use the correct tool rather than using a hammer for every issue even if it requires a screw or a molly bolt.

3. Are they up to the challenge? Ask the consulting team to provide industry specific certifications and accreditations. Ensure those credentials belong to the consultants that will actually be doing the work. The consulting team should be PMP- and Six Sigma certified and actively involved in local or national chapters. Membership in ERP, PMI and Six Sigma organizations is a key indicator that the consulting team is continuously growing their skill set. The gold standard is SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and other vendor specific certifications. Make sure their certifications are up-to-date and that everyone on the consulting team has credentials.

4. Do a background search. If the team will be working with classified departments of government organizations, be sure to ask if it has the necessary clearances. If not, it is a time-consuming process to get an un-cleared individual the necessary clearances to complete a project and make it successful. Additionally, look at the history of the team – bankruptcies, misdemeanor convictions and other red flags must be checked prior to giving them access to your sensitive materials and information.

5. Project team. Nail down who specifically will be on the team and hold the consulting firm accountable to this. Are you investing in a single person or a team? “Bait and switch” is a common complaint with consulting firms. They bring in the high value and extremely experienced consultants to make the sale and attend the kick-off meetings; then two weeks later, the team is wholly composed of recent MBA graduates with less-than-robust ERP experience in your vertical. Prior government projects are a key predictor of success. ERP consultants who are experienced in your public sector vertical understand the difference between public sector pressures and regulations and the bottom-line driven private sector.

Panorama’s independent ERP consultants provide a full spectrum of support in software selectionchange management  and implementation for government agencies, departments and organizations. Our experienced ERP consultants are an insurance policy against project cost overruns, misaligned software, diminished return on investment and diminished return on citizenship (ROC). Our team has public sector experience in overseas, remote and difficult environments and will work with you to transform and innovate your organization and its processes.

Learn more by watching our on-demand webinar, Tips to Select the Best ERP Consultants.

Written by Rich Farrell, Senior Manager of Client Services at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

 

How Government Resource Planning Can Improve Citizen Services

British inventor, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Over the years, technology has improved nearly every aspect of human existence. At first considered a corporation’s game, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been embraced in the public sector to help ensure proper governance. At a time when citizen’s expectations for proper governance is ever growing, governments are now trying leverage the power of ICT to increase their level of efficiency, transparency, accountability and participation.

Governments are utilizing ICT as a government resource planning (GRP) tool to effectively improve services for its citizens while simultaneously increasing the level of engagement and real-time dialogue between the citizen and the governing body. Today’s GRP systems are no longer confined within the government but can now go beyond the government entity’s walls in order to better interact with citizens.

In addition to performing basic back-office functionality such as human resources, payroll, finance, logistics and asset management, GRP systems can also increase the individual citizen’s return on citizenship (ROC). ROC can be defined as, “the value of services that a citizen feels he/she receives from a public entity in exchange for his/her tax dollars”.

While there is a plethora of improvements citizens would suggest for their governmental body, one struggle that almost all citizens face is the inability to effectively and efficiently communicate suggestions in a timely and cost-effective manner. Public forums and voting casting is infrequent, tedious and after all the effort, results may still never be seen. So how can governments have a two-way conversation with all their citizens and do so in real-time? The answer lies not only in a properly implemented GRP system but also in utilizing that GRP system to communicate with citizens in real-time. A mobile software program that is integrated with the government’s GRP system can allow citizens to effectively communicate with their government in the same manner that private companies use customer relationship management (CRM) systems and mobile apps to acquire customer feedback.

This is neither a new nor foreign concept; across the United States, cities are already leveraging GRP to further citizen engagement. Public entities, such as the cities of Richmond and Seattle, Washington, have been using their GRP systems to improve citizens’ ROC. While the City of Richmond is using workflow as a digital resource to achieve operational efficacy with increased reliability, the City of Seattle is making use of mobile smart phones with an app called, “Find It, Fix It.” This app allows citizens to report an issue they see in the city – abandoned vehicles, graffiti, potholes, etc. – by snapping a photo with their smartphones and submitting the issue directly to the City of Seattle.

The means, motive and opportunity already exist for governments to use GRP systems to improve citizen services. Now all that remains is the proper implementation.

Written by Daniel Rivero de Aguilar, Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

How to Develop a Fool Proof IT Strategy

A number of government organizations are considering the idea of merging internal IT departments and infrastructure by sharing service arrangements. There are financial savings and potential operational advantages to this approach. Relying on one, centralized IT organization ensures improved performance, better security measures and synergistic resilience.

Due to budget pressures, changing work habits and citizens’ expectations, public sector organizations are being pressured to be more mobile, adaptable and capable. “Cheeks in seats” is no longer the only option for public sector organizations and their workforce. There are many cloud, SaaS and hybrid approaches available that can give the public sector workforce the mobility and flexibility required to remain relevant in the 21st century.

There have been numerous IT success stories in the private sector where organizations took advantage of centralization facilitated by cloud solutions. The public sector, on the other hand, is not as agile and bottom-line driven as the private sector – and for very good reasons. Rather than saving money, some public sector IT initiatives actually have a negative ROI – and a negative return on citizenship (ROC).  Failure to manage organizational change and a tendency to adhere to old and inefficient processes are the two of the main culprits.

Public sector organizations need third party guidance in order to achieve an optimal mix of technology upgrades and organizational change management. An independent third-party can walk a municipal, city, state or federal agency through the tall cotton and capture, validate and join long-term strategic goals with short-term functional, IT and user requirements.

An independent organizational change management consultant can facilitate frequent horizontal and vertical communications and ensure that long-term employees do not feel threatened by new technology or the concept of shared and centralized services. While the cloud provides several possibilities, a complete move to the cloud is not always practical, particularly for large agencies or organizations. Specific departments or agencies within a larger organization should migrate distinct offices or operations to the cloud in a three-step process:

  1. Define clear IT policies. The organization should implement a central IT infrastructure with clear and distinct policies that are standardized for crucial capabilities and applications. There needs to be a storefront for applications and a single IT throat to choke for management and control.
  2. Acquire private cloud infrastructure. By acquiring a private cloud infrastructure, the organization can highlight the automation and provision behind a single point of management and control.
  3. Evaluate who is using the services. Total cost of ownership can be calculated by determining which applications and capabilities are required and who is using each service. The CIO should evaluate the return on investment and decide which services can be efficiently used in the cloud and which ones need to be provisioned internally. Public sector organizations can also offer cloud services to smaller agencies and bill those customers based on their usage.

 Organizational transformation and innovation cannot happen without the right technology and strategic organizational change management. You will not only save money in the long-run, but you will maximize your agency’s quality of service and its ability to achieve a high return on citizenship.

Learn more about how to ensure a successful IT project by downloading our on-demand webinar, How to Spot Warning Signs and Integrate Quality Assurance Into Your Project.

Written by Rich Farrell at Senior Manager of Client Services at Panorama Consulting Solutions. 

The Basic Structure of an RFP

Having prepared and responded to numerous requests for proposals (RFPs) across many governmental and nonprofit sectors, I’m always surprised by the amount of RFPs that do not include a proposal response format. When an organization has not included a proposal response format, it leaves the potential respondents scratching their heads. While a Q&A period can help alleviate some of the confusion, the answers often come too late to have a meaningful impact on proposal content and structure.

Proposal format can be broken down into two subcategories: (1) physical requirements and (2) proposal structure. Physical requirements are the mechanisms for ensuring that the proposals look the same and all responders provide the same amount of information. Proposal structure is the content and order in which the proposal is presented.

More often than not, I see that organizations are very specific with the physical requirements of the RFP response, such as typeface, font size, pitch, line spacing, margins and page count. While I appreciate precision, some of these technical requirements have carried over from the typewriter days and have no real application in the most common word processing programs. But, on a whole, most organizations provide enough physical requirements to alleviate guesswork among proposal respondents.

The proposal order is more of a mixed bag. Some organizations are very orderly and provide tables with fixed fields so respondents will only answer what is asked and respond in a predetermined fixed space. This gives organizations confidence that their proposals are being compared apples-to-apples with other respondents’ proposals. To be successful with this type of proposal, the responses require adept writers who are able to select and present the most pertinent information. There is no “see what sticks” approach to responding.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is no structure, and the RFP does not give the respondents a response order. Recently, I was looking at an RFP that had no determinable items for a proposal response. I could not discern between items that were to go into the proposal response and items that were to be delivered once the contract had been awarded. To frustrate matters further, there was no Q&A period to provide more clarity. These unclear requirements, coupled with a short turnaround time and no Q&A, means that the organization is going to receive a kitchen-sink approach from many respondents since none of the responses are going to be in the same order and none will address the same topics. Comparing responses will be unnecessarily difficult for reviewers.

A well-written RFP that includes both physical requirements and proposal structure is necessary for quality responses. Without a cohesive RFP, the organization will have an exceedingly difficult time reviewing responses side-by-side and ensuring that their requirements are met upon award.

To learn more, download our white paper, Lessons Learned From a Government ERP Failure.

How Small Improvements Can Greatly Increase Citizen Satisfaction

iStock 000067630661 FullIn my old state of residence, when I purchased a new car, the dealership was able to provide me with plates and handle all of the registration issues on-the-spot. All I had to do was write a check, sign a contract and drive away. Fast forward to last Fall when I decided to buy a car in my new state of residence. I gave the dealership a check, signed on the dotted line and drove off with temporary paper license plates. The dealership told me that I’d be receiving a card in the mail from the DMV roughly a week before my temporary plates expired that would tell me the cost and when and where to pick up my plates. That seemed easy enough.

It was roughly a week before my temporary plates expired, and I still hadn’t received a notification. Soon, my plates were officially expired, and I was officially breaking the law. As a good citizen, I wanted to address the issue immediately so I called the DMV for further guidance. Their first words were, “I cannot help you unless you have the vehicle’s VIN.” They could neither look up my record under my last name, SSN or temporary plate number. I hung up because I did not bring the VIN number to work and resolved to just go to the DMV in person.

I woke up early the next day to arrive at the DMV before it opened. In my purse was everything imaginable that the DMV could require. I wasn’t going to be defeated in person. When my number was called, I told them, “I don’t have my card but I am hoping to get some license plates.” The DMV worker told me, “You don’t need the card to get plates; I’ll just need your license, proof of insurance and a check.” Why wasn’t this VERY RELEVANT piece of information written anywhere?!

I realize this is long-winded on the anecdote, but it perfectly highlights the frustrations that the average citizen may experience when trying to access or receive services from an agency or organization. Return on citizenship (ROC) is the value of services that a citizen feels he or she receives from a public entity in exchange for his or her tax dollars. While it isn’t objectively quantifiable, I’d rate my experience at the DMV as a negative one hundred. I had wasted so much time and energy on a process that I knew could be so much simpler.

When trying to determine whether a citizen is receiving an acceptable level of ROC, agencies and organizations should first look at what their peers are offering to help determine a baseline. In this case, my local DMV would have been shocked at how quickly a resident from my previous state could receive plates from his or her DMV. This analysis could help determine what the DMV best practices are and set baselines for performance.

Once the industry best practices are set, the DMV could to look outside of the DMV to other service-oriented government agencies as well as the private sector organizations. It would give the DMV a good sample space of what citizens are expecting in other service areas. For example, I may get grumpy at standing in a ten-minute line at the grocery store but I would be thrilled to stand in a ten-minute line to send a package at the post office.

Once observations are made, the DMV should set some reasonable goals and steps to realize these goals. One of my biggest sore spots during the DMV debacle was my inability to find the information I needed from the DMV website. Two simple solutions would be to expand the FAQs section and provide an email address where citizens could submit questions and receive answers within a reasonable amount of time. If the same question is repeatedly asked via email, the answer should be posted on the FAQs page.

By observing best practices, organizations can make small improvements that greatly improve citizens’ experiences. These improvements, in turn, increase citizens’ return on citizenship. Working with a consulting firm that understands citizens’ needs will help your organization discover best practices and select the right technology to support improved processes.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, The Need for Public Sector Innovation: Facing the Challenges Posed by Public Sector IT Initiatives.

Lessons Learned From a Government ERP Failure

PGS Gov MarqueeAnyone who follows ERP industry news knows that ERP implementations fail at high rates in both the private, commercial sector and the public, government sector. As discussed in Panorama’s 2015 ERP Report, not only do the majority of organizations across all industry verticals spend more time and money than initially forecasted but, adding insult, also fail to realize the business benefits that they anticipated. And, when they fail — they fail big and they fail hard, with both the ERP vendors and the implementing organizations often taking a beating in the court of public perception. This is especially true when failures happen in government agencies, who need to justify their failed actions, huge expenditures and mismanaged processes to the taxpaying public footing the bill.

What many don’t realize is that while ERP failures may, on the surface, appear to be caused by different issues and problems, they share many of the same themes. And this goes for both companies and governmental organizations. While the structure and oversight of the ERP implementation often differ between the two sectors, the root causes of failure are distressingly similar. In Panorama’s ERP expert witness work analyzing extreme ERP failures, we often have been struck by the similarities across all ERP missteps and mistakes. Three of the common ERP failure factors are:

1. Lack of due diligence during the ERP software evaluation and decision phase. Neither government agencies nor commercial companies operate in a vacuum. When it comes to ERP software purchases, both are subjected to the same hype, pressures and sales cycles as the other. And both often find themselves in the mindset of either “We MUST have a SAP / Oracle / Microsoft Dynamics ERP system because they’re big and expensive and important and so are we” or “We MUST have a SAP / Oracle / Microsoft Dynamics ERP system because that’s what company/agency X down the street has and they’re so much more educated about this stuff that we are.” Not to pick on the Tier I systems, but for companies who don’t do their due diligence and just assume that a big, complicated ERP solution is the answer to all their woes — the failures come fast and easy. It’s like thinking the only options for college are Harvard, Oxford and Georgetown. All great schools, but if they don’t fit a student’s particular needs or desires, then they’re the wrong choice. And an expensive one at that.

2. Poor business requirements and system design. Organizations that fail to properly define their business requirements via business blueprinting up front often end up with a “moving target” of an ERP system. By that I mean it is shot at and battered by a cavalcade of ever-shifting requirements as the project progresses. These inadequately defined requirements also lead to inaccurate or incomplete assumptions about scope, cost, time and resource requirements, causing blown budgets and deadlines and heightening the risk for massive ERP failure. These deficiencies also tend to lead to software designs that are misaligned with the organization’s operational needs. Takeaway? Get your requirements done early and done right.

3.  Inadequate project planning and controls. It’s no secret that the key to ERP success is strong project management, planning, governance and controls. When these dominoes start falling, the success of the project is in great peril. One example we’ve seen in our expert witness work is improperly formalized change control and sign-off processes when team members decide that the scope or software must be changed to meet certain requirements. This bloat quickly can lead to scope creep and inadequately managed timeframes, both precursors to ERP failure. The way to remedy this is through careful definition and validation of project plans and mindful oversight of the project timeline, scope and resources throughout the implementation.

The bulk of this blog post has been adapted from our Lessons Learned From a Government ERP Failure white paper. Even if you don’t work for a governmental agency, the points made are universal across ERP implementations and should be considered and discussed prior to beginning an ERP project.

A Common Mistake Made in Government RFP Solicitations

As an old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  This saying is directly applicable to government RFP drafting for ERP selection and implementation services.

In a recent State government RFP for ERP software selection and implementation, the State required software selection bidders to decide whether the State should do the following:

  • Release one RFP to select a ERP vendor that would also perform the software implementation
  • Or release one RFP to select the ERP vendor and then release another RFP after software selection to select an implementation vendor

On the surface, the first option sounds better. The State would select one vendor to provide both the software and implementation in one fell swoop. Also, the State would only require one RFP, and there would be no lag time between selection and implementation. Although I have no proof, I have the feeling most software selection bidders presented this option to the State because they could show a lower cost and shorter timeline compared to those who went with the second option. “Shorter time and less money” is a great selling point.

What the State failed to realize is that the first option is not the most prudent approach. It would either be compromising on the quality of ERP software and/or the quality of implementers, which could cost the State, and ultimately the taxpayers.

It is undoubtedly going to take the State longer to select an ERP vendor and implementer under the second option. However, two RFPs will allow the State to select the best software and the best implementer. Under the first option, the State takes a high risk of having to settle. While there is the small chance that the best ERP vendor will be the best implementer, my experience has rarely found this to be the case. When selecting the best ERP software for a State – or any organization, for that matter – there will never be a perfect solution out-of-the-box. When comparing ERP software solutions, a State will always face trade-offs in items such as functionality, price or implementation time. However, through business process mapping, the State should have a very good idea of one or two ERP vendors that are close to meeting all of the organization’s requirements. Issues arise when a State must select among the third or fourth best ERP software solutions because the first and second choices fell short on presenting an implementation plan.

Another issue arises when organizations assume that the ERP vendor is the obvious choice as implementer. Most ERP vendors have networks of dependent and/or independent implementers that implement their ERP software. With dependent implementers, it is difficult to know whether the State will ultimately be receiving the “A-Team” implementers or the “B-Team” implementers. At times, ERP vendors have internal pressures to place B-Team resources on projects, to keep the internal peace among the dependent implementers.

By not requiring separate RFPs to select the ERP vendor and implementer, the State decided to take the risk of selecting a single vendor to provide ERP software and ERP implementation services. The State may end up settling on the second-best software and third-best implementation plan. As a taxpayer, I would prefer that the State spend more time and money upfront during the RFP process to select the best ERP software and best implementation plan independently.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, The Importance of Independent Verification and Validation.

What Citizens Want

Straddling the Gen X and Millennial generations, I remember a time when it was exciting to pop in the Oregon Trail floppy disk on an Apple computer at school because my family did not own a computer. By the time I reached college, 95% of my research papers were written from information found on the internet. Today, my four-year-old niece is schooling me on the finer points of her tablet.

For me, technology cannot come soon enough. I get impatient with inefficiency, especially when I know that the technology exists and is successfully implemented elsewhere. Between the private and public sector, there are some obvious differences in levels of technology when performing simple tasks.

In 2000, researchers at the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, SUNY asked, “What do citizens want from e-government?” According to the researchers’ surveys, citizens wanted the following services:

  • Renewing a driver’s license
  • Voter registration
  • State park information and reservations
  • Voting on the Internet
  • Access to one-stop shopping (one portal for all government services)
  • Ordering birth, death and marriage certificates
  • Filing state taxes
  • Hunting and fishing licenses
  • Accessing medical information from the National Institute of Health

Fast forward to 2015 and we’ve made progress in fulfilling the wish list made in 2000 but the progress hasn’t been flawless. In my highly unscientific and informal information gathering, I started Googling the services above in my home state to see what I could and couldn’t do through e-government.

  • Renewing a driver’s license: I can perform this function online if I meet certain requirements. The one “gotcha” for me was having to provide proof of an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist within the last three years.
  • Voter registration: I can access the PDF of the voter registration form online. Then, I am instructed to “mail, deliver, or scan the signed form and email it.” Seems simple enough until I realized the form has to be printed on legal sized paper before I can mail, deliver or scan it. I’d still be making a trip to the local office supply store to procure the paper. Boo.
  • State park information and reservations:  A minor success. I was able to view state park information and make online camping reservations. The site looked nice, had useful information and was user-friendly. My only complaint is that I had a few “Page Not Found” ’s when trying to access trail maps.
  • Access to one-stop shopping: Nope. Not even close.
  • Ordering birth, death and marriage certificates: I could order birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates online through an independent third-party linked on the government vital records site. I even had the option to order “heirloom” birth and marriage certificates that were touted as suitable for framing. No such luck on the death certificates . . . too macabre?
  • Filing state taxes: Thank you IRS for starting this trend of federal filing in the mid-1980s. Gone are the days of a Mitron and a Zilog! I’ll be filing my state taxes online in my jammies at approximately 11:53 pm on April 14.
  • Hunting and fishing licenses: When I Googled hunting and fishing licenses for my state, the top searches lead me to “Directory Listing Denied” error messages. However, when I was previously searching state park information and reservations, I had seen a “Buy and Apply” tab, which led me to pages where I could order hunting and fishing licenses online. So, the state offers them online but is not clear on where to find the information.
  • Accessing medical information from the National Institute of Health: I’m not exactly sure what type of information users in the year 2000 were expecting but there is a lot of medical information on the website. I’d call it a win.

We’ve made progress on the 2000 e-government wish list, but there is significant room for improvement considering what is possible today in other sectors. For me, it is difficult to even remember what the internet provided, or did not provide, in 2000. The “me” of 2000 may have been marveling at the technologies of 2015. It’s hard to say.

Learn more about e-government by downloading our white paper, The Need for Public Sector Innovation: Facing the Challenges Posed by Public Sector IT Initiatives.

 

Understanding Public Sector ERP Vendors: What They Say vs What They Mean

The public sector is popular right now with ERP vendors and system integrators. Large vendors like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and Infor are boosting their R&D funding and smaller vendors are also jumping in.

But public sector projects offer a special set of challenges that shouldn’t be underestimated by these new vendors – or by the agencies who hire them.

ERP systems and implementers often over-promise and under-deliver. No surprise here: that happens in every industry. It’s easy to get ‘wowed’ by vendors who show off bells and whistles while overlooking the everyday processes that end-users go through. Requirements are typically under-defined by the system-searching entity. In the public sector, heavy regulations and compliance issues are common and do limit some of the ERP options from software vendors.

Vendors are also quick to talk about the big-name clients using their ERP systems, when often those clients are using only a small portion of that ERP system – perhaps just an unrelated reporting tool or database.

Yet the public sector is a different world. It takes a vast amount of experience to break the barriers of entry and launch an ERP system or be a system integrator for a federal agency or even a local utility. Public sector clients often require three or more references of similar size and scope to even be part of the RFP process. This fact alone makes it very hard for system integrators and software vendors to compete in this space.

Public sector procurements can be convoluted. Most public entities need to obtain bids from at least three different vendors and projects are typically granted to the lowest bidder. But all too often a local government or agency will award the project then quickly discover that the new vendor’s confident estimate was far lower than the actual costs needed to successfully implement an ERP system.

Meanwhile, a proper bid from an experienced system integrator (who really knows what they are doing) will often be ignored because it was the most expensive bid.

That is the heart of the public sector challenge and it puts the experienced systems integrator in a bit of a conundrum: Do they fully disclose the scope necessary for a successful implementation and risk losing the bid to a lower bidder? Or do they under-scope intentionally, knowing it will take more time and money in the long run for ERP success?

Public entities benefit, of course, when the bids they receive are both fair and accurate. They can help their own cause with a few basic steps:

  • Define requirements fully and completely
  • Dedicate specific resources, including project managers, for each job
  • Identify areas where added help will be needed, such as in process improvements and organizational change management.

The last item is especially important. Vendors and system integrators typically do not have these skill sets and often don’t know how to properly scope and estimate all the aspects of a project. This is where we see large cost overruns and extended implementation delays.

Learn more by watching our on-demand webinar, ERP Selection Success: Ten Tips from the Public Sector Pros.

 

The Real Reason Why Public Sector ERP Implementations Fail

An ERP implementation can drastically improve the well-being of citizens by providing a positive return on citizenship (ROC). An ERP failure, on the other hand, can be detrimental to citizens. Government ERP failure is far too common, and projects have historically gone over budget by millions of dollars. A few years ago, the State of Pennsylvania went over budget by $40 million. This is pocket change compared to the New York “CityTime” project, which went over budget by an estimated $697 million – approximately 3000 new Lamborghini Huracans or enough food to feed every homeless child in New York three meals a day for six years.

While the idea of managing a billion-dollar public sector ERP Implementation is daunting, it could happen to you, and when it does, you’ll want to understand the keys to success.

Organizational change management is critical to the success of your ERP implementation. Imagine arriving at work one morning and suddenly being required to use a new ERP system without any prior knowledge to this change – you’d be confused to say the least. Now picture that on a broader scale: if an entire department is clueless about a new ERP system, your organization will encounter serious problems. Successful change management initiatives involve the entire staff, with the intention of creating excitement and enthusiasm around the ERP project. If employees feel included in the process, then they are more likely to voice concerns and recommendations, making the project manager’s job easier.

I have seen countless projects where organizations decided to overlook organizational change management and are now suffering the consequences. An ERP implementation isn’t a technical initiative but a complete organizational, cultural and operational transformation that will fail if it is not properly managed.

Training is another vital aspect of organizational change management. During many implementations, training is swept to the side because so much effort has been expended on the technical aspects of implementation. Unless your employees can magically learn the new ERP system through osmosis, training is essential.

Take a step back, and make sure that you have proper change management and training plans in order. Ensure that your project manager is qualified and not just the first person to volunteer. Finally, set a realistic project schedule – you can’t squeeze organizational change management into a six-month window. You’ll have better luck training a cat to bring in the morning newspaper.

To prevent ERP failure and increase return on citizenship (ROC), you must focus on organizational change management.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, Lessons Learned From a Government ERP Failure.

Written by David Ovitsky, Associate Business Analyst at Panorama Consulting Solutions. 

Five Tips for Keeping Your ERP Implementation On-Schedule

iStock_000030504824MediumA successful and on-time ERP project never happens by accident. Behind every successful public sector ERP implementation there is a project manager who has taken the time to define project scope, assess resource commitment and set expectations and priorities.

Although keeping a large-scale ERP project on-schedule is challenging for even the best project manager, we have several strategies for facilitating an on-time delivery:

1.   Get Approval of Project Objectives and Scope: During the project charter meeting, the project manager should obtain sign-offs from the executive team on the project objectives and scope. By presenting the objectives and scope from the outset, there will be no surprises once the project schedule is more fully developed. Reaching a consensus at the outset also prevents the executive team from voicing concerns mid-project and suggesting changes that could cause significant scope creep.

2.   Understand Your Team: Before randomly assigning tasks to various team members who seem to have the right title for the job, the project manager should assess each member’s strengths and weaknesses. We’ve all worked with the brilliant engineer who has never met a deadline; the intern who seems to have enough energy to do the work of three people; or the marketing rep who always seems to be taking personal phone calls. Assessing team members doesn’t have to take place in one-on-one meetings – most managers should know their team members well enough to be able to give the project manager recommendations on who should fill certain positions and what types of contingency plans should be made for workers who are needed but not necessarily reliable.

3.   Assign Critical Path Items to the Most Trusted Team Members: The most trusted team members should be assigned the critical path items that will make or break a project. They do not necessarily need seniority, but they do need to have earned respect from their team and be able to work well with many different types of people. Very few people have the time to perform very large tasks on their own, so having a team is crucial for delivering critical path items.

4.   Set Upfront Expectations for Deliverables: People have different standards for what is an acceptable work product. Some think a rough draft scribbled on a napkin is acceptable whereas others are uncomfortable submitting anything that has not been professionally printed and bound. By setting expectations at the outset, the team will know what is an acceptable deliverable. Without setting expectations, scope creep can easily occur when assignments are rejected because of incompleteness or lack of professionalism.

5.   Prioritize Tasks and Develop a Hierarchy: It is not unusual for a small group of people to be assigned to tasks in several different categories. By prioritizing tasks and developing a hierarchy, everyone will know what their key priorities should be and bottlenecks will be less likely to occur. When people are allowed to pick and choose their tasks, the low-hanging fruit is usually completed first and other tasks are placed on the backburner. Prioritization may require that the more difficult tasks be completed upfront because several subsequent groups rely on the information. By setting these priorities, there is no guesswork in the order of operation.

An ERP project manager who follows the tips above will lead their team to ERP success. Only an on-time and carefully planned ERP project will provide the innovation necessary to effectively serve citizens. But if you need a little help, check out An Expert’s Guide to ERP Success or contact us to ensure you have a successful implementation.

Learn more by checking out our on-demand webinar, How to Define the Best IT and ERP Strategy Roadmap for Your Organization.

 

Lessons Learned From an Oil and Gas ERP Implementation

Recently, I was fortunate enough to participate in an ERP implementation for a publicly-owned oil and gas organization. Based on my observations during this project I identified four keys to ERP success in the oil and gas space that are applicable across various industries.

1. Relationships. A successful client-consultant relationship begins with organizational change management. Communication is the milk in the cereal bowl that holds these relationships together. Change management cannot occur without horizontal and vertical communication among people who are committed to the project’s success.

Similarly, the relationship between an organization and its chosen ERP vendor is important when it comes to industry-specific experience. In the oil and gas industry for example, a background in discrete manufacturing is not enough – find out if your ERP vendor has oil and gas experience specifically. The ERP vendor must have past experience with an oil and gas ERP implementation and a deep understanding of the relationships with related third parties and industry service providers. Even if the organization does not immediately recognize the need, the ERP software must provide tried-and-true modules for oil and gas project management, material management, asset management, maintenance, work order management, service order management, resource allocation, regulatory compliance, document management, human resource management and financial and performance measurement.

2. Resources. In most ERP implementations, organizations add new partners or blend corporate cultures that were formerly separated. It goes without saying that ERP selection should focus on the best fit for your organization, but few organizations consider their own employees and the ERP software’s impact on them. Employees need nurturing, change management and the time to properly implement the new solution. One of the biggest ERP implementation killers is not giving the project team adequate time and backfill resources. Expecting the project team to do two full-time jobs will lead to project fatigue among team members.

3. Risks. The oil and gas industry is known for its wild supply, demand and regulatory fluctuations. With the growing calls for alternative energy, infrastructure concerns and increased exploration and production costs, organizations must use carefully selected ERP systems to understand and plan for project risks in advance using powerful cost and schedule analysis tools. Organizations can obtain solid information on the relative success levels of a proposed project and quickly develop effective risk response and contingency plans.

With that said, there is still a need to be shrewd about risk management. If an implementation is proceeding slower than projected, forcing an unmovable go-live date on the project team must be carefully considered. It is better to push back go-live a couple of weeks instead of spending six months after go-live fixing a troubled implementation.

4. Revenues. Current ERP systems focusing on the oil and gas sector provide powerful tools to manage project portfolios. Several ERP systems enable organizations to manage schedules, project costs and resources to help ensure an on-budget and on-schedule project. ERP systems can increase an organization’s efficiency and mitigate risks associated with balancing multiple projects. Oil and gas organizations looking to remain competitive in the coming years will have no option but to implement integrate ERP systems to support all of their operations.

You do not have to walk in the deep waters alone. Panorama can walk with you and help your organization improve its business processes, execute successful change management, select the right ERP system and help you with all of phases of implementation.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, Organizational Change Management in Public Sector ERP Implementations.

Written by Rich Farrell, Senior Manager of Client Services at Panorama Consulting Solutions. 

 

What E-Government Will Look Like in 5 Years

iStock_000016987294_SmallTraditionally, E-government or “e-Gov” encompasses the digital connectivity of government entities between multiple constituents. A vast majority of interactions are through online portals, but can also consist of other channels including instant messaging or internet forums. E-government can host a variety of participants including citizens, employees, businesses or other government agencies.

Over the next five years, E-Government should allow agencies an improved ability to continue offering immediate access to public servants, agencies and programs. Consequently, there will be an increase in integrated services, partnerships and networks that can strengthen the government’s capabilities to serve its people. In addition, it is anticipated that changes should occur on three key fronts:

  1. Knowledgeability and Awareness: As governments become more transparent their citizens become better informed. Advancements include enhanced visibility to operational statuses and real time details on local events and in-depth coverage of relevant issues. Internally, government employees and partners will have improved reporting functionality that allow for strategic decision making. Systems will allow more dynamic discussions of key government issues allowing involved officials to take action.
  1. Involvement and Participation: With stronger connections between government and individual systems there will also be increased public outreach and participation. This will predominantly be driven through three key facets: simplification of processes (ease of use), convenience (accessibility) and timely execution (speed). Discussion and testing the modernization of voting procedures and infrastructure will continue. People at various socio-economic levels will also actively look to systems that augment social movements and allow for other forms of expression.
  1. Productivity, Efficiency and Savings: Heightened file management–including record collection and data integrity–will allow for improved workflow and expedited processes. Government procedures supplemented with updated solutions will see a reduction of redundant and manual tasks. As more mobile applications become available, there will be extended remote functionality to employees and citizens. Savings through decreased costs will be reflected as budgets remain tightened.

Tackling Inherent Risks

Many of the same obstacles to e-Gov will still exist in 5 years. As with many current systems and online platforms, security remains a key concern. Exploitation from foreign or domestic attacks pose a potential threat with the severity of an incident directly correlated with system accessibility and the sensitivity of information. Data integrity will be questionable should any form of tainting and manipulation occur. This could immediately discredit agency actions or decisions. File sharing privacy will remain vulnerable to cracking and hacking techniques along with the activities of anonymous or anti-government groups who may also trigger system shut downs, outages or a variety of other unauthorized manipulations. Internally, bandwidth and infrastructure constraints may limit working operations and cause media/social backlash should sites become inoperable or excessively slow.

How Do We Get There?

When it comes to information technology, there is an abundance of options. For an improved e-government experience, a centralized software system can immediately become apparent. Government organizations have many considerations to make given these modern software choices.

Below are a few items that should be deliberately and carefully evaluated before beginning any government ERP software selection and implementation:

Self-Assessment: Realistically determine what needs exist.  Be conscious of any current software capabilities against any that will be anticipated in the future. While many see the immediate difference upgrading from “green screen” menus on legacy systems to more user-friendly graphical user interfaces (GUI), there are a myriad of other aspects to address. Locate experienced resources that can help construct a business case that both understands and breaks down the benefits of a new system that will be in line with government goals and objectives.

Governmental Process Management: Selecting an optimal ERP system relies on understanding the unique requirements and policies of each organization. This is especially advantageous to ensure that internal processes work hand in hand to deliver the maximum benefit from system features.  This later leads to meaningful metrics and consistent results that can be examined to drive continuous improvement. Agencies should look for opportunities and resources to assist them with recording, analyzing and measuring government processes as part of any ERP system selection.

Organizational Change Management: Similar to voters, government employees have voices that want to be heard. The level of diversity surrounding individual experiences involved across multiple functional areas requires a thorough approach that revolves a well-defined communications, transition and training plan. To mitigate organizational change resistance, stakeholder input and support are crucial elements making OCM essential for project success.

Planning and Guidance: Without a proper direction ERP projects are subject to unnecessary failure.  Organizations often seek a consulting firm that inhibits the expertise and insight to help them in developing and managing their ERP projects. This becomes more evident when internal resources become limited and projects grow more complex and overwhelming. To review options objectively, government organizations looking to external firms should partner with experienced teams that are independent  of software affiliation. The key is to find thought leaders who understand that government ERP selections and implementations are not simply IT projects, but rather are driven by the processes and people within the organization.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, Organizational Change Management in Public Sector ERP Implementations.

Written by Adam Boyce, ERP Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

The Importance of e-Government

PresentationOnce again, my trials and tribulations with the DMV have brought the importance of e-government to light.  This time, I was attempting to procure my driving record from three different states.  Needless to say, my experience with each of these states was vastly different.   In State A, I was able to request the record online for $5.50 and received the record immediately.  In State B, I requested my record online for $26.85 and should have received my record immediately but didn’t.  Once it was clear that my record wasn’t coming, I emailed the help desk and within minutes the record showed up in my inbox.  Both of these experiences were relatively quick and easy.  State C, on the other hand, receives an A+ in obfuscating a very simple request.  Here’s why:

1.   There was no form to request my driving record.  I had to read through a long list of instructions and glean the information that I was required to submit.  To complicate matters, I had to read below a page break to learn that I had to submit a payment via personal check for $2.70.  Unfortunately, the DMV forgot to explain to whom I should make out the check, leaving me in a bit of a bind and leading me on another internet search.

This hunt-and-find method of record request signals the gross inefficiency of this DMV’s system.   I’m sure that the DMV frequently receives incomplete record requests because of the burden it places on citizens to uncover all of the submission requirements.  Incomplete records waste the citizen’s time because he or she has to go back and correct the record request, and they waste the DMV’s time because it has to re-process an incorrect request.

2.   There was no online submission for my record request.  I had to perform this function by mail.  After reading all of the instructions, I learned that this could take up to 14 business days to process with an addition of two days on either side of processing for physical mail delivery.  Therefore, it may be almost a month before I receive this record.   In the days of the Pony Express, I may have been thrilled to receive a document in a month, but in today’s world, one business day can feel like a month, especially when the business world expects short turnarounds.

3.   This record was addressed to the DMV – not to a DMV Records Department, a DMV Processing Department or a specialized PO Box.  This signals to me that if my record request letter is not pre-sorted from all of the other mail, then the DMV has some process issues.  .

While I appreciate that this record request was $2.70, it does not make up for the gross inconvenience.   If online DMV records are not within the DMV’s power – either because of a need for legislative action or cost – (State C should, at minimum, perform some low-tech upgrades.  For example, the DMV could create a downloadable PDF form that clearly explains all of the requirements and fees, which could then be sent to the correct handling facility via e-mail.  Even this small step would reduce processing time because it eliminates snail mail submission and reduces the frequency of incorrect record requests, as the PDF form would have all of the requirements in one place and in one format.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, The Need for Public Sector Innovation: Facing the Challenges Posed by Public Sector IT Initiatives

Written by Annalynn Evenstad, Associate General Counsel and Contracting Department at Panorama Consulting Solutions