A few years ago I was invited by a senior IT manager of a well-known global company to check up on the status of an ongoing Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) implementation project, and give an informal assessment of how I thought things were going. The project had been underway for at least 3 months and while there was a lot of activity by the implementation consultants working on site, results were not evident. The client was paying a lot, and starting to get concerned.
One of the ways I investigated the situation was by attending requirements discussions with the users of the intended system, in this case an enterprise-wide planning solution. The sessions were led by the implementation firm’s project manager. At first I quietly observed, but my consultant personality got the better of me and I began to pipe up with questions about business objectives, process flow, planning drivers, and the nature of reports needed by Finance users and managers.
After a couple of these sessions, a Finance vice president (who was not attending the discussions) came over and took me aside for a private chat. He started with “I’ve been getting some feedback from people that I want to talk to you about.” I wondered, did I overstep a boundary by asking too many questions?
The VP told me, “Now we’re aware of what’s been missing in this project so far – someone to ask us the questions you’re asking. We have no idea what we’re going to get when the development work is done, because we don’t think the implementers understand what we really need.” That confirmed my own observations.
Some implementation consultants are “order takers” – they will develop to the specifications you explain to them, no questions asked and no suggestions offered. Others take a generic approach they assume works for everyone (of course using your chart of accounts and data from your general ledger or data warehouse). How likely will these approaches result in a solution that’s flexible and extendable to deal with your company’s changing business environment and evolving goals, let alone meet your current analysis, reporting and planning needs?
EPM solutions that lift organizational and business performance – and deliver great ROI – start with a discussion about your business challenges and opportunities, both the current pain points and what’s likely to come in the future. From that, the best approach can be determined: how the solution will support an optimized process, drive nimble and enlightened decision-making, and accommodate business evolution and growth of your company.
How well does your solutions implementer “get it?” Could a more business-centric approach yield greater benefits and ROI for you?