It's not uncommon for business stakeholders to start forming a mental image of the solution once there is a high-level understanding of the features a new technology provides. But is understanding the sizzle the new tool brings to your current business challenges enough to have a winning project? Perhaps not!
Technology can provide capabilities that aren't part of a current system or haven't been conceptualized in addressing current business issues—and understanding those capabilities is a critical step in defining the end-point solution. Letting the technology lead the solution definition effort, however, can be risky…and may be no better than putting lipstick on a pig.
Legacy Systems and Adding Value
One of the biggest challenges facing any systems implementation project is dealing with the existing business processes and practices surrounding a legacy system, or cobbled together in the absence of a legacy system. Obviously, it's essential that your business process is lean and delivers on the customer value proposition prior to applying new technology. Better processes produce lower costs, motivate employees and increase customer satisfaction.
A major challenge of any business is the elimination of non-value add work—specifically that which doesn't add value for customers. While technology plays a critical role in enabling business strategies, automating an inefficient process is costly, since it does little to minimize resource consumption or maximize customer value.
Accelerating the Process
Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) isn't an instant solution—but there are ways to move things more quickly from definition phase to design. At Column 5, we've experienced firsthand how SAP's Accelerated SAP (ASAP) proven implementation methodology can optimize the success of implementing the SAP Business Suite. ASAP divides projects into five phases and adheres to a specific roadmap incorporating quality checks at the end of each phase. During Phase 2: Business Blueprint, As Is and To Be, business processes are mapped as the basis for optimizing business processes and creating functional requirements, before being input for the conceptual design.In the end, the answer lies in reframing the issue as "technology plus process" rather than "technology vs. process," when it comes to delivering significant return on investments to the business stakeholders, senior leadership and the bottom line.