The landscape of the office technology industry continues to evolve to meet the rigorous demands of customers and to keep pace with technological advancement. The simple days of selling and servicing multifunction devices is quickly evaporating due to the pace of technology and the requirement for connectivity anywhere at any time.
Customers are seeking providers that can span into new areas such as managed IT services, Managed Print Services (MPS), Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and integrated workflow solutions designed to drive increased business efficiencies.
In order to properly assess your technology, document management, IT business needs or software requirements the use of business analytics is required. There are so many moving parts that impact the decision-making process and the exclusion of analytics is like playing Russian roulette.
Don’t rush or make snap decisions; get the facts. Organizations should develop a technology roadmap and prepare high-level desired capabilities to improve their business operations. Credible providers will always want to start with an assessment as this provides an accurate picture of the current environment. The assessment is a critical step and should be delivered through data-driven technology, interviews and an unfiltered data collection process.
The assessment process should inspire dialog and prompt questions related to current business processes with respect to their effectiveness. You have options. Every company is unique and the introduction of new business processes or technology should be managed in a thoughtful way balancing cost and organizational benefit.
With enough time and money, almost any problems can be solved but most organizations don’t have the luxury of both options. It will become apparent that the necessity for a well-constructed long-term strategy coupled with a phased approached to address immediate and critical business challenges is required.
When considering decisions related to workflow technology, managed IT services or traditional office hardware and services, the following key points are critical:
• Seek open architecture solutions that can migrate and scale as needs changes. The cost to re-create is expensive.
• Capabilities are great, but look for solutions that actually address the specific challenges you face and drive the expected results you are seeking to achieve — i.e., avoid cookie-cutter solutions or generalizations.
• Measurements and metrics should be developed from the onset of the program. Know what each phase should accomplish and how it relates to the end-state objective.
• Avoid feature creep and stick to the plan. Features and functionality can always be added. A good business design should capture essential components via a scope of work document.
• Before you select a provider make sure you obtain customer references and match to the projects or programs you are implementing.
In many cases, organizations feel the need to keep up with the latest technology without a clearly defined value proposition and a return on investment (ROI) analysis. This is commonly known as the “Technology for Technology Phenomenon.” Do your research, validate the model or system and select the product that yields the flexibility, delivers the ROI and can scale to accommodate the future business requirement.
Moving from theory to reality to accountability
Data-driven process should guide the decision-making process at all possible points. This helps eliminate subjectivity and drive fact-based decisions with supporting documentation. In order to effectively move from theory to reality, it is highly suggested that a project manager is assigned. Many times organizations select a provider but fail to assign a project manager to keep the project on track and within the stated guidelines.
Upon completion of the project plan and alignment to the business strategy, the implementation phase can begin. Prior to a full deployment of any technology, a scope of work (SOW) document must be created and a test environment is recommended to validate the proposed product/service against real-life scenarios. This ensures that the deployment will be successful based on known criteria. In addition, a deployment guide is a must-have to drive a consistent and predictable rollout. The deployment guide is a living document that is updated as procedures typically change to accommodate unforeseen applications or system requirements.
As noted earlier, the development of metrics and measurements are essential to any project as they are used to measure success or failure. The metrics typically aligned to business outcomes are described below:
• Cost savings
• Revenue growth
• Global expansion
• Security and compliance
The development of an opportunity matrix should also be considered to press the organization beyond the initial cost savings or improvements derived from the project. This activity is designed to keep the provider engaged beyond the initial scope and seeking continuous improvements to drive long-term cost sustainability.
Final thoughts: Strategy and cultural fit
The steps above describe some of the key considerations and concepts that can be applied when making major technology investments. Not to be forgotten is company culture and the acceptance of change within the organization. As part of the project plan, an executive sponsor or key stakeholder should endorse the initiative and establish milestones to drive the program. The use of data analytics to drive scorecards, key performance indicators (KPIs), financial reporting and project status are all critical elements for a successful program.
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Workflow.