Success at last! The story of an enterprise software implementation
Enterprise system deployment is a manageable process that has a workflow with well-defined states and outcomes that you can reliably anticipate and measure at each step to ensure maximum success. Each stage in the implementation workflow must be fully analyzed by the proper resources so that the required actions are taken. The impact of each step on the organization varies depending on the state of the existing processes, number of employees affected, and the implementation time frame.
This implementation process helps project managers to anticipate the unexpected and manage each step in a well-defined manner.
Based on our experience in managing the deployment of the Tenrox family of products, we have developed a consistent and highly effective workflow for successful, rapid, and within budget implementation of process optimization software across the organization.
The implementation workflow consists of the following steps:
• Analyze your business needs and identify the right solution or solutions for achieving your goals
• Define objectives and project deliverables
• Plan your organization's implementation
• Model the enterprise software to fit your business processes
• Integrate the ES into your existing processes and systems—Look at the total picture
• Deploy the solution across the organization
• Train users and teams to achieve user acceptance
• Support the software to ensure continued success
• Measure the success of the initiative at specific intervals
Analyze Your Organization Needs
You must analyze your existing business processes to determine what processes you need to optimize and when and what is the desired outcome of each process.
You must interview key personnel and collect data to make sure that the right needs have been identified and to determine how they will be addressed by the new ES. Business analysis helps identify what can be optimized, automated, streamlined, completed, or redesigned. Often, the apparent problem is a symptom of a more serious underlying inefficiency. An in-depth analysis can determine the root cause. Many organizations address the symptoms while ignoring the source of the problem. For example, if you are having problems invoicing clients on time, you should determine the cause. Is it the accounting system? Is it the time tracking system? Is it the lack of integration between the two systems? Is it inaccuracies and double entries? Is it too many manual steps in between?
Exhibit 1. ES Implementation Workflow
Based on the detailed analysis of your business processes, and after determining which ones you need to optimize, you can set the goals and objectives to be attained. It is important to clearly define the objectives of the enterprise software project. The objectives must be clear and quantifiable because your goals are the major metrics used to measure success. Examples of objectives include reducing the invoice cycle by two weeks; improving project accounting by consolidating budgets, expense, and labor cost reporting; increasing billable time by 3%; increasing customer retention rate by 10%; and improving employee productivity by 5%.
At each stage of the implementation process, you must ensure that the goals and objectives are respected. For example, if your goals include shortening the invoice cycle by two weeks, you must make sure you analyze your existing processes for time tracking, billing, and invoicing. In addition, in the integration stage make sure that your accounting system, time tracking, expense tracking, and invoicing systems are well integrated to provide fast access to the data for final client invoicing.
Plan the Implementation
After defining needs and processes that can be optimized, you need to explore the various modules the ES offers and decide on the functionality and features that are required.
You need to make the decision when to roll out each module based on your business priorities. A good ES must offer the flexibility for phased and scaled deployment without affecting the overall system. For example, if you decide that there is an urgent need for a resource planning module to ensure all your users are optimally utilized, you should be able implement a resource planning (RP) module without having to use the vendor's time sheet management or project management module at the same time.
Model the ES to Your Business Processes
After deciding on the implementation plan, you need to fully integrate the ES within your organization. Based on the modules you install and the features you use, you need to map the associated business objects to your organization and its processes.
Business modeling is an extremely important step in the implementation process. You must work closely with application experts who have a strong knowledge of your business domain. When analyzing your business process requirements, make sure you clearly identify your reporting requirements and the level of detail you need to track and analyze. There is always a very delicate balance between ease of use, minimum overhead, and capture of important and vital information for proper process management and control. Every business's needs are different. With the help of an application expert who has strong industry knowledge, you will be able to achieve the right balance between ease of use and your organization's requirements. It is important to fully test your ES business model during the predeployment pilot to make sure it offers without overhead the required detail.
This Business Modeling process consists of several steps:
• Organization Breakdown Structure (OBS): Maps your organization such as sites, departments, business units (or cost centers), teams, and employees
• Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): Maps your work hierarchy such as customers, engagement, products, projects, and tasks
• Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS): Hierarchical organization of resources that facilitates both roll-up reporting and summary resource scheduling by enabling you to schedule at the detailed requirements level, and roll up both requirements and availabilities to a higher level
• Terminology: Maps ES terminology for OBS, WBS, RBS and document terms to fit your organization's standards. This step minimizes the learning curve of the new application and increases the comfort level of using the ES on a daily basis
• User Roles: Defines the different roles required to successfully use the new processes. It also defines access rights to the system. Roles can include standard users, Project Manager, Team Leader, Accountant, Executive, etc.
• System Configuration Options: System configuration options are usually defined for the entire organization such as System start date, type of billing cycle.
• Alerts and Notifications: Alerts and notification are a crucial part of an ES. You must understand the existing Alert and notification functions and how they apply to your business processes. Alerts and notifications can include Budget overruns, timesheet rejections, a high-priority customer issue, etc.
When modeling the ES to your business processes, a one-size-fits-all approach does not always work. You must identify the different groups within your organization and target your efforts to each group. During the modeling phase, you should personalize the ES structure for each group to best fit its model. The level of personalization depends on the nature of the process and the scope of the implementation.
For example, if you are implementing time tracking across several departments, such as development and support, you must be aware that these groups have different requirements for a time tracking system. Members of a support group may be assigned work automatically by a ticketing or issue tracking system and may not have the right to assign work to anyone. On the other hand, a development team member may have more freedom in selecting which activities to perform or whom to assign work to at any specific time.
At the end of this phase, you will be able to determine how to tailor and personalize the training content to fit the different groups in order to achieve the best results from the training sessions. It is important to include your new ES model in the training material to ensure a complete understanding of the structure and the proper information that must be captured.
Note: If this step is not done properly, it will result in poor reporting or unnecessary administrative work. A carefully planned OBS/WBS is critical and can provide valuable information but this has to be balanced with the administrative work involved in managing the sublevels of data.
Integration and Predeployment Planning
At this stage, you need to identify existing processes and systems that will need to interact with the new ES or that can benefit from the information available from the new processes.
If not handled correctly, integration between the new and existing processes can be a major point of failure. Most processes do not operate in a vacuum—they are linked to other processes in some way. As a first step, it is essential that you identify how the new ES affects all the dependent processes and eliminate inconsistencies or redundancies. A critical part of process integration is eliminating redundant data and repeated entries in multiple systems. All processes must tightly integrate, and data must seamlessly flow across the different processes. For example, let's assume that your organization is using an HR system to track employees and you want to implement a time and expense tracking system. You should not reenter the user information in the new system but rather integrate it with your existing HR system (as the master source of employee information).
Integration of the ES with your corporate security standards is an important predeployment activity that is often overlooked. You must analyze the impact of the new ES system in full detail and consider your security processes to ensure that it will function correctly with your security rules. Discovering security issues after deployment is usually too late and can jeopardize your project.
Enhanced business intelligence and reporting is usually one of the main benefits of ES implementation. You must take the time to analyze data captured by the new processes and determine how they can integrate with existing data to improve accuracy and timeliness of reports. For example, implementing a new time tracking system with advanced cost and billing capabilities can instantly generate valuable data that can be used for better project status, cost, revenue, and WIP reporting.
Finally, you will develop a detailed deployment plan that schedules and assigns all the critical components for a successful implementation based on your organization's requirements.
The IT group should carefully review the site-planning document provided by the ES vendor. The following sections highlight the key issues in the site planning process.
Database Server Requirements
Most ES software incorporates a central database server, with database software from one of the better-known database providers, such as Microsoft, Oracle, or IBM. The database server is the most critical computer for any organization taking on an ES project. The larger the user base, the more concurrent requests and transactions will occur. The memory, hard disk space, and processing power of this computer should be carefully calculated in collaboration with ES vendor experts.
The database server must also be in a highly secure location accessible only by key personnel. In addition, as mentioned in a section that follows, from the onset, backup and other disaster recovery measures must be implemented.
Web Server Requirements
Sophisticated ES solutions allow replicated installation of business logic components on one or more web servers. All web servers communicate with the same central ES database server. This distributed web architecture is required for larger installations and organizations with multiple sites. The memory, hard disk space, and processing power of the web server should be carefully calculated in collaboration with ES vendor experts.
Most ES software offers web access though clients running web browsers or requires installation of client software (usually on a Windows platform). There are advantages to each of these approaches. However, the most desirable scenario would be to use ES software that supports both zero client (no installations on the client computer, pure HTML web access) and client software running on the Windows platform.
An ES database can grow very rapidly. This is especially true if it is used on a regular basis to manage timesheets, expense reports, purchase orders, service requests, and other business processes. Corporate data, including audit information, can run into tens and hundreds of megabytes in a very short time. In collaboration with ES vendor experts, it is very important to estimate initial database size and database growth on a weekly and monthly basis. In addition, system administrators must use archiving to purge data entry information that is no longer needed on an annual basis.
Backup and Disaster Recovery
Another important predeployment activity is the integration of the new ES into your backup and disaster recovery procedures. Enterprise software systems usually store extremely valuable data in central databases, and database disasters are bound to happen. It is not uncommon for computers to fail, power to be interrupted, or natural disasters to hit. Without adequate preparation, server downtime is costly to an organization, especially when information is lost. Frustration can grow among employees and especially among customers, who expect round-the-clock server availability.
Note: It is highly recommended that ES databases be backed up on a periodic basis. A full backup should be performed once a week and an incremental backup on a daily basis. This critical process cannot be ignored.
Based on the actions taken in the previous steps and the integration requirements you may have, it is recommended to test the configuration under various scenarios and evaluate the results. You can make such a test by rolling out the change to a test group and by running pilot programs. Select your pilot group carefully to make sure it truly represents the organization. You must communicate the strategic importance of the project to the pilot group. Make sure that you provide enough training to the pilot group to ensure that they are at ease with the new software process. Also, set up clear communication channels for user feedback and comments during the pilot process.
The pilot will allow you to find the weak spots in your planning and resolve them before complete rollout. This can also improve user acceptance of the new processes, because users will feel that they have participated in the process and that the solution was not imposed on them.
The next step is for you to put all your preplanning to the test. Depending on the size of the installation and the number of new modules being installed, it may be more beneficial to follow a phased deployment approach. Implementing an ES in a phased manner can provide you with quick wins and initial momentum. In addition, users can learn the new system more efficiently in smaller increments, resulting in immediate productivity gains.
The phased approach also gives you more time to understand and assess your future requirements and allows you to make changes more easily during the implementation process. Phasing the project also reduces risk, partly because risk is easier to manage in smaller subprojects. Moreover, defining the scope of the project well in advance and breaking it down into phases minimizes surprises and isolates potential problems.
Training scenarios can vary based on your requirements, the number of employees to be trained, and the modules you are implementing. You can follow a train-the-trainer scenario wherein an internal resource is trained on the product by the vendor so that they can then train other users in the organization. Basically what happens here is that an external vendor trainer is used to train a limited number, perhaps one, of the customer's staff and then this trained people are used to propagate training throughout the customer organization. This is usually more cost effective for end user training in which the functionality required to be learned is limited. However, training by certified trainers is recommended for administrators, support personnel, and power users.
Training materials should be tailored as much as possible to match your organization and work structure. They should also include real-life scenarios based on your business processes. These features make the training sessions more effective and relevant.
To achieve maximum results, you must rapidly train everyone affected by the new solution. Entire teams must receive training together, and all teams within a group should receive training during the same time frame. Experience has shown that team-focused as opposed to employee-focused training can create excitement and reduce resistance to the new process. Teamwork also increases and encourages the utilization of the ES because everyone starts using it at the same time and follows the same track.
Support personnel must be trained so that they will be able to respond to management requests for reporting and business intelligence in a timely fashion. In order to provide advanced reporting and business intelligence and to take full advantage of the ES data warehouse, they must be fully trained. Training should cover areas such as detailed data model analysis, software development kits, and any third-party tools that may be employed.
As part of the training preparation, make sure you set up clear training programs for new employees who join after the initial implementation. In addition, if you adopt a phased implementation approach, you must include adequate training on the new modules implemented at each phase.
Throughout the implementation, project management office (PMO) consultants will measure the success of the project at every milestone against the goals and objectives set at the start of the implementation project. After the completion of each phase, PMO consultants will analyze the results achieved and compare them to the initial goals. They will also analyze the improvement in the process and the savings achieved due to the use of the new software.
Organization requirements change over time and new requirements arise that were not considered during the initial install. To ensure that the ES is producing optimal results for the current business environment, the PMO must continuously monitor, evaluate, and communicate what needs to be changed (this is typically done once every six months). The main objective of the periodical evaluation is to recommend changes or realignments in the system, the process, or the staff that may be necessary to increase efficiency.
The ES vendor learns a great deal about the organization and its processes during implementation. The vendor, in collaboration with the PMO team, will be able to provide you with an analysis and recommendation of processes that can be streamlined or that may require closer scrutiny to further improve efficiency, drive down cost, and improve revenue.
To ensure successful implementation and optimal usage of the software, you must invest in resources that will help you reach the desired outcome. In order to reduce resistance and guarantee success, you should make sure that feedback from end users is dealt with quickly and that any issues or problems that arise are handled in a timely fashion.
Support is usually divided into three categories.
• End-user support: This is usually handled internally by the product support group. It is recommended that the support personnel follow detailed training to be able to offer quality support.
• Operational support: Operational support includes the day-today operation of the system such as OBS, WBS, and RBS configuration, security profile setup, etc. This is usually managed by the ES administrator(s). Administrators must follow extensive training to ensure proper system administration.
• Reporting support: Includes the customization of existing reports or the creating new ones, business intelligence and ad-hoc reporting support. Reporting support is handled by technical staff with experience in the reporting tools and training on the ES data model and Software Development Kit (SDK).
Note: In the context of this white paper Enterprise System software refers to any multi-user concurrent access software that includes a database component such as Project Management, PSA (Professional Services Automation), Time and Expense Management, Accounting, Process automation and workflow management, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Client Relationship Management) and SCM (Supply Chain Management) applications.
Enterprise system implementation should not be undertaken lightly. All of the cost savings, benefits, and efficiencies that result from using an ES cannot be realized unless the implementation is achieved though methodical and proven techniques. To attain your goals on time and within budget, you must follow a well-defined and proven workflow with measurable results at each milestone. This will ensure the full and seamless integration of the software into the organization.
The following processes can be critical points of failure if poorly planned and executed: modeling the ES to your business processes, integration, and predeployment planning. These processes require critical attention in order to ensure the success of an ES project.
This white paper is an exert chapter from the first and most comprehensive textbook in the history of Professional Services Automation (PSA) software entitled “Professional Services Automation: Optimizing Project & Service Oriented Organizations,” published by John Wiley & Son Inc., 2002, ISBN: 0471230189.
It has 25 chapters spanning 300 pages filled with workflows, figures, charts, and diagrams that describe every PSA component, illustrate and clarify concepts visually to help project and service oriented organizations be more successful in obtaining maximum benefits from this new emerging class of enterprise software.
Six years in the making this textbook provides the real life experiences of veteran project managers, IT experts and business executives. The book brings a unique value to many organizations, management consultants, business analyst, reengineering professionals, software vendors, and academics that work, teach and study in this strategically vital market sector. It probes emerging technologies such as: dynamic integration, wireless, ASP and their impact on PSA systems. The extensive analysis using the PSA cycle for each component, return on investment (ROI) calculators, best practice functionality and PSA RFP template make this the PSA reference that no manager or executive in a project and service oriented organization should do without.
For more information on Professional Services Automation: Optimizing Project & Service Oriented Organizations, published by John Wiley & Son Inc., 2002 or to purchase this book online, please visit www.psabook.com
Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium
October 3–10, 2002 · San Antonio, Texas, USA