Map the Business Processes
New technology can improve processes, integrate workstreams, and impact the bottom line. When implementing technology, strive for a planned, strategic effort.
The key to a successful new system roll-out? The secret sauce is in the preparation.
Ever join in these hallway conversations or staff meeting debates?
- “If we could connect all our business units in the organization like Finance, HR, Procurement, Distribution and Sales with a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, we could cut costs, save time and improve our overall efficiencies.”
- “If we had an effective CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform, we could better manage our customer data and interactions, track leads, automate sales, and improve communications to help grow the business.”
- “If we implemented a Learning Management System (LMS), we could provide access to training, testing, data management and reporting while expanding the knowledge base of our teams.”
Things would be better if you had the technology, right?
Well, better hit the “pause” button.
Too often, businesses focus on what type of game-changing technology or software system and which vendor to procure it from. Instead, the focus must begin on how it will happen.
Success lies in the preparation.
Yes, you can still daydream about the new technology you covet, including all of its bells and whistles. And go ahead, converse with others about how this technology will reduce frustration, increase productivity and revenue and help to reach the organization’s strategic goals. Ah, life will be grand with this software system.
But first, you’ve got some work to do.
Oh, and a word of warning: skip these steps and the result will be mounds of frustration, unplanned costs, and implementation delays. Let’s get started!
It’s critical to develop a visual representation of the current state of the business and workstreams. The process mapping efforts underscore the interconnectivity of how things flow through the business and highlight where pinch points and bottlenecks exist. In addition, the process maps provide a baseline of how the business functions prior to implementing the new technology. This information provides the foundation to measure the technology’s impact and a reference point for streamlining processes.
Develop a Business Requirements Document
After mapping the processes, it is essential to create a comprehensive document that will take into account all the “guts” of the current state of systems, software, and processes. The outlined requirements provide much-needed detail of the business and serve as a bridge for the technology provider and stakeholders to realize a successful implementation. It incorporates all the needs of the business and an understanding of the development of the technology needs to support.
There’s not one hard and fast rule of what should be included in a Business Requirements Document. However, the primarily components include: The current state of all processes, specifically the Swimlane Diagrams of each workstream; a gap analysis of processes; specifics to systems and interfaces; all costs for the project which will be measured by the Cost Performance Index (CPI) at conclusion; and a schedule that maps all steps and measured by a Schedule Performance Index (SPI).
It is a best practice is to have one API developed for each process within each Swimlane. This requires the migration of data from one system to another. The document should outline where all current data resides, how to access it and instruct the technology provider where to transfer data. During this process, it is essential to “scrub” to remove any erroneous data. This ensures moving accurate and usual data to the newly developed software technology.
Transitioning data, systems and processes to a new technology platform doesn’t have to be cumbersome, frustrating or capsize the budget. There is no down-side to creating a requirements document. However, there is a ginormous down-side by not creating one. The foundational pieces must be outlined before proceeding to the next steps of implementation.
Scalability and Deployment
With the Requirements Document complete, it’s time to scale the project. What will it take to build out the technology and implement it across the organization? For small to medium-sized businesses, how will the technology scale across departments? For large organizations who have multiple locations and geographic regions, the scalability plan is critical to the deployment’s success. For all businesses, make sure the infrastructure can support the requirements of the technology and that equipment and software are available prior to launching the deployment team.
For the project management team, scalability and deployment are sequential in the process, yet each is interconnected to the other’s success. The deployment involves the boots-on-the-ground technicians who install the technology. This is not the point in the timeline to question compatibilities, server storage or other infrastructure foundations. If the project as clearly scaled, the deployment team’s efforts should be seamless.
Learning & Development / Training
Training is important to the success of all technology launches. During the scalability phase, instructional designers should begin to develop the training modules for the new technology. The Learning and Development team can plan curriculum development, training methods, logistics, employee accessibility, communication, and reporting of course completions.
Designing clear and comprehensive training for all who will have access to the new technology should not be overlooked, skimped-on or ignored. There is a direct connection between training and the success of adoption.
So, your organization has invested a significant amount of resources in implementing the new technology. Congratulations! The heavy lifting is complete. But you’re not done yet.
Maybe your organization implemented an ERP system, CRM software, an LMS platform, Artifical Intelligence (AI) or Virtual Reality (VR). Regardless of what type of technology, how will you know if it is effective? Following deployment and training, are you reaping the results as planned? Have the time, expense and toil been worth it?
Well, now it’s time to measure if everything worked according to the plan. This final step is to evaluate the adoption of the technology.
As significant as each of the prior steps are to the overall implementation, measuring adoption will clearly outline if the entire project is a success. Identify the adoption qualifiers as part of the audit and timeline. If adoption rates result in less-than-expected data, it may be helpful to circle back with the Learning & Development team to evaluate the training. As well, investigate where possible gaps exist that result in less-than-spectacular adoption.
Resistance to new technology and a new way to do things is human nature. So, plan for it. Find opportunities to help employees embrace the technology. Collaborate with Learning & Development, Internal Communications and HR teams to communicate messages across multiple channels within the organization. The communications strategy is important, and tactics should be weaved throughout the entire roll-out process.
Adoption to the new technology is critical to its sustainability and to achieve the ROI for the organization. If you can’t get people to adopt and receive the technology as part of their role in the organization, the entire project will be futile.
Successfully implementing new technology in an organization is possible. The benefits are numerous. By following the above steps, your business is bound to reap the rewards.