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Spend Matters welcomes this sponsored article from Dave King, director of strategic accounts at The Shelby Group.
All global projects have unique challenges, and at The Shelby Group, we’ve had the “opportunity” to encounter many of them. When supporting our clients’ global deployments, we can easily pinpoint the what to watch out for — areas like taxes, invoice regulations, culture, etc. But what really separates successful global implementations from one another is the preparation and readiness an organization executes before hitting the start button.
“Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.” — Stephen Keague
Investing time in preparing before beginning an implementation cycle makes a significant difference in the following areas:
- How quickly you can resolve issues, when confronted with important business decisions during the inevitable “sludge” periods of an engagement.
- Overall resource time investment during an implementation.
- How efficiently and effectively you can deploy your platform globally.
Below are the four key areas organizations should ensure they address and align prior to commencing a global software implementation.
1. Rollout Strategy & Plan
As elementary as this sounds, many organizations struggle to answer the question, “Who is going first, second, third…and why?” The kickoff phase of an implementation is not the appropriate time to decide an overall global rollout plan for the next two to three years — this should be decided prior to committing to an implementation start date. Getting an agreed upon plan in place is imperative, as it sets the tone for most subsequent decisions and pre-requisites that need to be addressed. To help develop a rollout strategy, facilitate a workshop to discuss some of the following topics:
- Which country or region is most mature in process, procedure and policy? Can it be a lead country that other countries can leverage and learn from?
- Which country or region will be most excited to adopt a new software? Will this country provide change management momentum for subsequent rollouts?
- Which country or region is most suitable to lead with resource and technical readiness?
- Where will ongoing operational support reside for countries once they are live on the new platform?
Answering some of these questions will help determine a great strategy on where to initially implement and how to rollout to subsequent countries thereafter. Once the plan is agreed upon and a feasible timeline has been established, be sure to message this to all stakeholders. Doing so will get people excited to be a part of an important initiative for the organization.
2. Data Readiness
Understanding the state of your data, per each country or region, should also be an influencing factor on strategizing your rollout plan. Develop an initial set of initiatives, presumably founded on pain points the organization currently has. This will assist in the prioritization of data gathering, cleansing and validation. For example:
- Problem Space: The organization spends too much time printing out purchase orders and mailing, faxing or emailing (from a personal mailbox) these records to suppliers.
- Solution: Automate the delivery of purchase orders directly to a supplier from the software.
- Data Requisite: In order to email a supplier directly from software, there must be a valid email address associated with the supplier master record.
In keeping with the example above, don’t get into the design phase of your implementation and realize only 3% of your suppliers have a valid email address. Understand the state of your data as it relates to the initiatives you are targeting and be sure to set realistic goals. Target a subset of “high value” suppliers that need to be automated for the initial go-live. This enables you to go forward and avoid suffering from a hard dependency on 100% data readiness.
Below are some other key data areas to address:
- Suppliers: Address duplicates & ensure each supplier has a unique identifier.
- Approval Chains: If leveraging management hierarchy, ensure your organization chart and delegation of authority is current.
- Commodity Classification Structure: Develop a standardized global set of commodities for consistent global reporting.
- Accounts: Ensure your account segments, combinations and securities are current.
3. Implementation Governance & Participation Plan
It is imperative to ensure alignment at multiple levels globally to execute a global implementation. An easy way to ensure this alignment is to develop three core layers within the organization that are associated with the implementation:
- Global Executive Layer: Stakeholders who are strategically placed around the globe that can address issues and call project audibles when necessary.
- Global Project Managers: Team of managers that keep a pulse on the progress, timeline and budget of the overall implementation. Ensure this team is made up of global members to ensure implementation consistency. They will learn from one another and leverage each other, increasing the company’s probability of a successful global implementation. The more this team is in sync, the better chance you have for success.
- Global Process Owners: This team is responsible for auditing when and where it’s appropriate to drive global process consistency versus keeping local process exceptions. When multiple countries have similar processes that differ slightly, this team is responsible for coming to an agreement on how processes should be executed in the future.
Above all, it is imperative to have global stakeholder representation for all countries or regions from the beginning. This ensures everyone is being heard and increases your adoption rate. Having global representation involved during all phases minimizes the company’s opportunities to design a solution that only works for a percentage of the globe.
4. Success Criteria
Develop a set of tangible metrics the organization can use during and after implementations. Having an initial set of criteria to drive toward gives the organization something to leverage and reference when developing global processes. These same metrics can be used for reporting after the implementation to monitor and track a company’s continued success. Make sure all global stakeholders have the opportunity to contribute to the development of these metrics. This way, a consistent tone and message is established and all parties can be held accountable across the globe.
For example, a metric companies typically want to address is approval cycle time. The current cycle time is not adequate, so the goal could be to improve to three business days to complete an approval workflow from eight days.
Keep this information in the forefront throughout an implementation so you can continually reference and revert back to this metric if and when needed. When stakeholders or business owners advise that they need 10 people on an approval workflow, you now have the agreed to metric in place to challenge and facilitate further discussions to the workflow design. How does having 10 people on an approval workflow impact your chances of successfully achieving a three-day approval?
Again, having metrics in place forces everyone to be accountable and provides a catalyst for the company to motivate, to improve current processes and become more efficient and effective.
For more ideas on success criteria and metrics please reference my colleague, Kari Ostgaard’s blog: 15 Procurement Metrics that Save Money!
“Executing Successfully” will be the second part of this blog post.