Decisions around foundational technology like ERP are critical to the long-term success of any organisation. With decision-making moving beyond the IT department into the realm of business line managers, it is important that both sets of stakeholders understand each other’s concerns.
These issues are covered in a report by IRBS, sponsored by TechnologyOne, called IBRS State of Enterprise Software Report 2019.
The authors of the report outline key considerations for both IT and business executives.
For business line managers the first step is to engage with the IT department. They can offer important advice around issues such as:
- the ability of any solution to integrate with existing solutions;
- impact to cross-functional business processes;
- implementation and change management;
- and return on investment modelling.
ICT groups often excel at project management, and they have a holistic view of the organisation so they understand the impact of any one system on all other systems. Make sure you leverage that expertise.
It is also important for business managers to evaluate their organisation’s change management maturity. This needs to be matter of priority. Out of this exercise, the goal should be to implement those processes necessary to improve capabilities before the deployment of new enterprise solutions.
“While there are several change management maturity models and evaluation approaches available, choosing a model that provides actionable advice is essential,” the report notes.
Don’t just settle for conventional wisdom — there are plenty of myths around cloud computing. For instance, don’t accept ‘security’ as a catch-all excuse for refusing to adopt cloud services — professional cloud providers are likely to have more robust security protocols in place than the typical IT department.
Take a simple issue like security patches. Keeping these up to date is core business for cloud providers, whereas it can be just one more maintenance task for a typical IT department that might de-prioritise it behind other jobs.
The authors write that, while there may be valid reasons to keep enterprise solutions on-premises, these should be fully articulated from the perspective of “why not?”
Their advice: “Engage with senior ICT executives to determine the most appropriate enterprise solution architecture for your organisation— pre-integrated enterprise, core services and satellite apps enterprise, or the service mesh enterprise.”
For senior IT executives there is a different — though related — set of issues to consider.
At a strategic level, the growing importance of business line managers in the decision-making process means that IT leaders must adjust for this shift in the way enterprise technology is procured. In this new world, the ICT group becomes an internal ‘as a service’ change agent for the organisation.
For many traditional IT groups that will involve a shift from a technical risk-minimisation approach to more of an advisory mindset — where the goal is to help business stakeholders solve their specific business needs. And just as importantly, IT must ensure that the wider organisation avoids problems such as redundant investments, the fragmentation of processes between cloud services, or the creation of isolated information silos.
The authors also caution that change management — especially in the shift to cloud — involves much more than mere retraining. It is important to engage the stakeholders with business line responsibility and help them to drive through the necessary changes in their organisations.
“Identify business unit ‘visionaries’ to take ownership of change management programs, who will educate the impacted business unit staff at all levels as to the potential benefits and innovations, rather than just ‘how-to-use’ training.”
It is also important to pre-empt potential integration problems. Work with business executives to identify your organisation’s enterprise solution architecture, and set yourself the goal of becoming a trusted advisor to business units seeking to procure new SaaS solutions.
Finally, be sure that investments in enterprise solutions are in line with trends in your market. If others in your industry are heavily investing in SaaS, you’d better know why.
About this author
Dr Joe Sweeney is an advisor and consultant in business and technology strategy at IBRS. TechnologyOne is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.