What is implementation?
What is implementation?
The success of your performance management implementation involves more than choosing the right software. You also require the right implementation. But what is implementation?
With Corporater EPM Suite, customers license an out-of-the-box solution. This means there is no development involved with the implementation. Implementation consists of configuring the solution to meet customer requirements, and it occurs through a series of menu-driven activities. Since there is no development involved, it eliminates development risks. The solution is already in proven use with hundreds of customers. There is no risk of running out of project development hours with a half-developed solution. There is no need to maintain a separate IT development infrastructure, and the additional attention required for testing and acceptance.
What should you expect during implementation? Before we get to that question, we should discuss a few issues. Most customers need to balance a few factors, such as cost, resource availability, speed of implementation, knowledge transfer, and scope of the implementation. Customers can manage cost by participating in the implementation process, and gain the added benefit of additional knowledge transfer. This is dependent upon the customer’s own resource availability. Other customers may choose that the complete project is delivered by the implementation team. What is the intended scope of the implementation? Shall it be staged in multiple phases, based on business units or functionality? Or shall it be launched upon completion?
There are no set answers to any of these questions. Performance management by its very nature is a dynamic set of management processes that need to change over time. The implementation is of a “living solution” that will undergo iterations over time. Strategic review cycles and annual planning may mean that some metrics or initiatives will be retired and replaced over time. Initiatives and activities by their very nature are time-limited in their duration. Many organizations choose to roll-out the solution organizationally, perhaps starting with a few top-level business units. They add lower levels at later stages. Some choose to start with high level data, maybe manually entered at the start, then connect to source systems at a later stage. While it may be quick to implement in this manner, it loses the benefit of including historical data.
There are many issues to sort out before planning the scope of the implementation. Corporater implementation experts can assist you in making the decisions that best fit your needs. At a high level, the implementation is broken down into the following categories of activities:
This step involves clarifying the scope of the implementation. It answers the questions asked above. What is the scope of the work, what are the roles and resources required from both the implementation team and the customer? In larger projects these may be clearly outlined in project plans and related documents.
Most customers are already at a stage of readiness regarding their performance management model, meaning that they have a clear understanding of the metrics they intend to report, how they are to be organized, etc. What is often missing is a clearly defined set of targets, performance thresholds (for setting the status gauges), how they want the measures to be visualized (by charts, graphs, tables, etc.), rules for handling comments, workflow notifications, and other ‘details’ needed to fully leverage the solution. The design phase clarifies all of these requirements. Customers need to supply the information of the KPI and initiative metadata (what information they need captured and reported by KPIs), and provide input into the layout of the scorecard, objective, KPI, and initiative pages and reports. This stage also consists of structuring the organizational and data models, so that the system can by logically navigated, and data can be properly viewed at each business unit.
Configuration consists of entering the scorecard and dashboard structures. Corporater EPM Suite offers a templating system that makes it very easy to reuse common elements throughout the system without having to maintain each element independently. Configuration is the menu-driven process of setting up the solution so that it displays and manages information as specified in the design phase. If integration with source systems is also involved, it is connected and configured at this stage.
In a perfect world, there would be no need for testing the system. In a practical sense, testing occurs concurrently with the configuration phase. It is the process of verifying that the solution reports the right information to the right business units, and that the solution is configured as specified in the design phase. Customer acceptance occurs as a part of this stage.
The best customer training occurs as the solution owner (or super user) participates in the configuration process. This type of on-the-job training gives the added benefit of training on the actual customer business case— in the actual solution. This is real-world training— not classroom training. The customer benefits from the repetitive nature of building multiple KPIs, configuring several charts, graphs, tables, etc. The super user then has a comprehensive understanding of how everything has been configured, and understands the business logic of the solution. Classroom-style training is also available. End-users generally require very little training, since the solution is intuitive to use, and end-users do not need to understand how to configure the solution. They need to know how to navigate through the system through a web browser. End-user training generally is conducted by the super users or other customer resources.
In a future post I will discuss project management. Overall, there is generally little need to treat implementation as a “project.” In fact, I don’t even like the word “implementation” as it applies to Corporater EPM Suite. Implementation is not like an IT project. As a solution to be run and managed by business users, it primarily requires the engagement and resources of business users. The biggest “risk” we generally encounter is that customers start to truly understand the full potential of the solution once they start using it, and the project scope increases. They gain a wider vision of how it can be used to solve other reporting problems, and expand how they use it. At its core, this risk only speaks to how flexible and full-featured the solution is.