Setting Up Success: Steps to Prepare Before Your System Implementation
In the Retail Industry today, there are challenges from many angles; new competitors, including both startup and well known, established companies, new technologies providing for a more seamless shopping experience, and access to an abundance of competitive information. With the consumer now firmly in charge, to remain relevant and survive in the retail industry, a company must be able to undertake the right projects to compete on these levels.
Many retailers find that they are limited by their current infrastructure and the systems they use for core business processes (procurement, merchandising, finance, allocations, etc.). Increasingly these companies must decide if they continue to attempt to innovate on their current and often outdated platforms or if they replace these legacy systems with new systems, applications, and platform options.
For those who will embark on the journey to install new systems, there are many considerations and critical decisions that need to be made very early on in the process. The preparation before starting a system replacement project often determines the success or failure of the project. In this first article, I will focus on how to best prepare for the journey to system implementation and the key points of that preparation. The following are some guiding principles to ensure you are adequately prepared:
Preparing for the Project Journey
Business Case & Key Business Requirements:
Defining why your company is taking on a system upgrade, including the development of a business case and what the key business requirements are, is an essential function to establishing the scope and purpose for this new system endeavor. Typically, there are specific business drivers or pain points that led to this decision. It could be to: “improve inventory visibility,” “automate business processes,” or “lower fixed operational costs,” which are often required to maintain older systems. Whatever the reason or pain points are, they need to be documented.
In addition to the business case, it is a best practice to identify key performance indicators (KPI’s) that can be used to measure the performance or return on investment (ROI) of the new system. These requirements and performance measurements ideally need to come from the business users, who will be the users of the new system.
Identifying and engaging with key stakeholders from Business, IT, Operations, and other vital partners is another significant factor of the journey preparation as their input, support, and ownership are critical to ensure the system will be accepted. Lastly, making key decisions early in the project, and sticking to these decisions, will go a long way in helping keep the project on time and budget. There are many categories for crucial decisions that often vary significantly based on the size or location of the organizations’ operations. Examples of typical “key decisions” might be to determine if the organization will use a centralized or decentralized model for procurement, or if a company needs inventory management or inventory distribution.
Organizational Structure and Culture:
Assessments of your organizational structure and the organizations’ culture are essential in determining their readiness and tolerance level for a change. These types of projects often put significant time demands on key personnel (Business, IT, etc.), so it is imperative to determine if your organization has the proper resource capacity and skillsets for the project or if additional resources may need to be added.
One early consideration is to determine if creating a separate program/project organization for the upgrade is needed. Often it is easier to define and create this new organization and pull individuals from their current roles (Business, IT, Operations) into a new position that is specific and dedicated to the implementation. Significant thought and planning are required to understand the impacts to the current organizational areas fully, and to define if/how these individuals will be backfilled, and what roles or opportunities within the company these team members will have post-project.
Another key component is to have the insight of “lessons learned” from past projects, both reasons for successes and failures. Knowing these lessons before the start of the upgrade will help to avoid known problem areas and to focus on approaches that have been successful for your company previously. Finally, every step of the way, it is imperative to gain commitments and support from key stakeholders and project resources.
Systems and Facilities:
Evaluate current system environments and data center capabilities and determine how this project will impact the current enterprise landscape. Important early decisions can include choosing an On-Premises or Cloud approach where applicable.
If there is no current System Landscape Diagram of all key systems, interfaces, and 3rd party applications required to run your business, then one should be created. This diagram will serve as a key reference document that will be needed to help design the new solution environment. The diagram will highlight what systems or applications will be replaced, which will remain, and how these are currently connected. Once it has been determined what new systems or applications are to be implemented, a new updated System Landscape Diagram should be created, which will illustrate the future state.
Finally, you will need to access your facilities to determine if they can accommodate the needs of the project. Typical requirements are for conference rooms and additional work areas to be dedicated to project team members. In today’s current COVID-19 pandemic era, this can be an even more critical area to ensure there are adequate personal protection equipment and space to accommodate current social distancing practices. In cases where there is simply not enough space to accommodate additional team members or dedicated space, selecting a temporary location to support the project team during the duration of the project is recommended.
Rizing Can Help with Your Project
For those who prefer to work with an expert for help in preparing for implementing a new system, Rizing is here to help. We have a team of experts who have deep experience not only helping customers successfully navigate this journey, but many of our team members have experience as former customers themselves. We are happy to help you at any point in your journey.
Now that we have covered some areas to assist you in preparing for your journey, in my next article, I will share some insights on other essential areas like communication, change management, and project tools to help you navigate your journey. The following article will focus on the following:
- Being clear about the destination
- Building communication and change management into the core
- Ensuring the proper tools are in place to help you stay the course and measure your progress