Many of our clients hire us when they know they need help selecting and implementation a new ERP system. Often times, these clients know the general direction they want to go with their enterprise initiatives and simply need help navigating the options and implementing their chosen solution. This tends to be the sweet spot of our client base.
However, we are seeing more clients come to us that aren’t even sure they want or need a new ERP system. Many of them are earlier in their planning process and are opting to take a holistic approach to evaluating their entire IT infrastructure and defining a longer-term plan to upgrade to allow them to scale for future growth and acquisitions. Because we’re an independent consulting firm, we are able to provide objective guidance on how to evaluate and determine the best path to take with the organization’s enterprise software, IT infrastructure, and IT organization, whether or not that strategy entails a new ERP system.
We address these and other issues when helping a client define their three- to five-year IT strategy. Once we understand the strategic direction of the entire company and how the executive team views IT (e.g. as a core competency vs. an undifferentiated commodity), then you will be ready to develop a strategic IT plan. Here are some of the areas to consider when defining an IT strategy for your organization:
Current enterprise applications. Enterprise and ERP software is often the biggest pain point experienced by organizations. It’s the front-facing everyday tool that is the most visible thing to employees, so they often feel the pain of any inefficiencies or misalignments. For this reason, an effective IT strategic assessment should evaluate the functional fit of the organization’s enterprise software applications, including legacy ERP, CRM, HR, and any other systems that the organization may have in place. In addition, this assessment should consider the integration (or lack thereof) between these systems.
IT organization and infrastructure. In addition to systems, an effective IT strategy should evaluate the internal IT organization and infrastructure. This portion of the assessment will typically consider things like internal IT competencies and deficiencies, the potential of consolidating IT functions and/or leveraging a shared services IT delivery model, and the physical IT infrastructure. Often times, companies identify deficiencies in these areas and identify opportunities to upgrade their physical or “soft” infrastructure.
Low-hanging fruit. During a holistic assessment of an organization’s entire IT infrastructure and systems, there are bound to be low-cost yet high-value types of improvements that can be made in the short-term to provide immediate impact. For example, opportunities to retrain employees on key processes or systems to help make them more efficient, integrate disparate systems, or tweak business systems or processes are all examples of areas of potential immediate value that we often see. These changes can often be implemented in parallel or before making larger changes, such as a new ERP system.
Business case and ROI. In order to fully flush out your three- to five-year IT strategy, you’ll want a clear understanding of the costs and benefits associated with the various strategic options available. This will also help prioritize improvement opportunities and plan the timing of each strategic initiative that your organization may undertake. This also forces a focus on accountability and benefits realization so that your organization may actually realize the expected business benefits.
Organizational change management. Once the strategic initiatives have been identified, prioritized, and rolled into the actual deployment plan, the next step is to identify how to manage the organizational changes inherent in the transitions. Employees will need to be trained on new systems, communicated and trained on new processes, and the organization will in many cases need to be redesigned to reflect required competencies and reporting relationships to support the new strategy. Regardless of the exact types of changes involved, the transition is likely to entail significant change for employees, which requires an effective organizational change management plan.
These are just a few areas of consideration to help you get started on defining your IT strategy. Once these and other critical areas are addressed, you and your team should be in a better position to define exactly where you are headed as an IT organization via a strategic roadmap.
Learn more about our IT strategy service offering online or call us at 720-515-1377 to discuss options with our ERP consultants.