In this podcast, Laura Florence, Panorama’s Director of Business Development, explains how to conduct a technology assessment focused on people, process and technology. You’ll walk away with an understanding of how to use a technology assessment to ensure strategic alignment.
What is a technology assessment?
A technology assessment is often conducted before an ERP project or digital transformation. The assessment helps an organization define its digital strategy to ensure executives are aligned about where the organization is today, where it wants to be and what changes are necessary to get there.
What is a digital strategy?
It’s a common assumption that digital strategy is all about technology – buying the actual hardware and implementing the software. However, at Panorama, we look at digital strategy as an approach that holistically addresses people, processes and technology. In this context, digital strategy is the tool, or the approach, used to manifest a digital transformation.
What does it mean to be aligned regarding your digital strategy?
Before beginning an ERP project or digital transformation, it’s important to have clarity about who you are as an organization. In other words, clarify your value proposition and understand the customer journey.
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What is digital transformation, and does everyone actually need it?
Digital transformation is about fundamentally changing who you are as an organization and how you interact with your customers.
For example, we had a client with a handful of brick and mortar stores and a basic website. Their corporate strategy was the be “the Home Depot of the Caribbean.” That meant defining an entirely new omnichannel retail offering.
We began by redefining the customer journey and redesigning the organization and business processes to support the new customer journey. Then, we looked at what technology would be able to provide that capability.
Does everyone want to fundamentally transform who they are as a business and how they interact with their clients? Not really, no. I would say maybe 10% of our clients are looking for true transformation.
How do you know whether a company needs digital transformation or just new software?
Every company is different. Perhaps they’ve grown organically from a mom-and-pop and are ready to make the leap from QuickBooks to proper ERP, or perhaps they are a multinational conglomerate already using seven different ERP systems and they want to move to one consolidated system.
Both of these scenarios are going to significantly impact both internal and external customers, but are both considered true digital transformation? In the case of the mom-and-pop, the answer is no.
Think of a spectrum where one end is a tactical business project and the other end is complete digital business transformation.
The majority of our clients land somewhere in the middle, where it’s more than just plugging in a point solution but not necessarily an entire organizational redesign.
Where does a technology assessment come in?
With very few exceptions, we start each engagement by understanding where our clients are today. In other words, we assess the current state of the organization in terms of the people, processes and technology.
Then, we make one of the following recommendations:
a. Use current software more effectively
b. Get your house in order before considering new technology
c. Proceed with ERP selection
What is the timeframe of a technology assessment?
If we’re engaged for an ERP selection, a technology assessment can last anywhere from three weeks to several months depending on the size and complexity of your organization.
On the other hand, if we’re hired to provide guidance, an assessment can be completed within just a couple days.
What’s the output of an assessment?
If a company is in crisis, we provide recommendations for immediate, short term actions that a company can take to reach stability.
If it’s a small company that is just seeking guidance before they start looking at ERP vendors, we provide a list of observations regarding their business readiness, pain points and root causes of pain points. In many of these cases, we find that the root cause is more process related than technology related, so we recommend that they don’t implement new ERP software.
If a company hires us for ERP selection, we help them develop a list of functional and technical requirements, design a change management plan, and define the essential pre-implementation and implementation activities.
How do you position the benefits of modernization to a company that has only requested an assessment?
As an objective third-party, we document clients’ pain points, provide industry benchmarks and make recommendations for how they can achieve these benchmarks. These recommendations acknowledge the parallel projects and changes that are already underway.
Sometimes, our assessment will reveal the need to upgrade the current system. This is a good option if the organization hasn’t over-customized their system to the point where an upgrade is very expensive or nearly impossible.
How common is over-customization?
It’s very common.
To avoid over-customization, we recommend a technology assessment. During this assessment, you should define what you want to achieve and why but leave it to the ERP system to define the “how.”
How do you ensure user adoption?
We recommend getting employees involved right away. One way to ensure employee engagement is to involve them in the current state process mapping the current state and ask for their assistance in identifying pain points.
Another way we help clients ensure user adoption is by developing a change management communication plan outlining how they will communicate the benefits of ERP or the benefits of their new digital strategy to employees.
Understanding Your Needs
Does your company need digital transformation or just new software? Maybe neither. Sometimes, we find that there is just a need to use the existing tools in a better way by upgrading your current system, ensuring ERP system integration or conducting business process reengineering. To find out what your organization needs, request a free consultation below to speak with a software consultant.