Turning Your Technology Projects into Lasting Solutions
By ImageSource Team on September 15, 2021
Technology projects tend to focus on a specific problem or narrow scope. There’s typically a failure or compliance issue that has some urgency. Due to time, budget, leadership support, and any other constraints, we put blinders on. Where do we find the time to consider future needs when evaluating possible solutions for our current needs? We don’t take an extra week or month to perform some minimum longer-term strategy. When deciding on a technology project solution, like a content migration or expansion, consider this question: What other similar challenges do we face in other areas of our organization, and do we have a 1-3 year roadmap to solve them?
Without a roadmap in mind, it may prove challenging to make a vendor and technology selection that results in an investment for the long haul. Though all organizations are different, many of these challenges apply:
- Lack of technology selection plan or procedure
- Disconnection between business needs, procurement, and vendor onboarding
- Finding the time to build a new vendor partner relationship
- Change management procedures as part of an organizations DNA
- Training and supporting new technology
- Project funding
New technology selection
Even with your business requirements complete, identifying candidates, defining the processes, and making a technology solution selection is hugely time-consuming. Anyone who’s gone through the process while performing their day-to-day job knows it can be exhausting! Someone must coordinate all the stakeholders, create evaluation criteria, read reviews, demos and feature reviews, internal audit and compliance, evaluations and POC’s, and many other tasks that tend to pop up along the way. Consider who is responsible for the completion of these tasks and which stakeholders will make the final call. The individual likely feels personally accountable for the choice. The fear of failure can be paralyzing and eat up valuable project time. Gather managers and executives around the team to support the process and the final choice.
Procurement and vendor onboarding
After you select your new technology, procurement and onboarding begin, and you may have some concerns. How challenging is the end-to-end “approved vendor” and procurement process? The more important question: how long does the typical process take with all the required steps? This might include initiation, scoping, and approvals just to get started, generating RFP’s, vendor investigations/background checks, reference calls, NDA’s, SOW’s, MSA’s, etc. Be sure to work through these questions with your vendor partner. Define who will advocate for the vendor through the procurement and payment processes and encourage them to develop relationships with internal and external staff to streamline communications.
Building a new vendor-partner relationship
There will be a learning curve with your new partner relationship about each other’s project teams and varying implementation processes and project management styles. A vendor needs to discover your unique business processes, understand your organizational environment, work with your IT group, etc., to form a partnership of mutual respect and gain a level of trust that they are acting in your best interests. What’s it like starting a project and developing a relationship with a new vendor? How are your teams working together? Are you on the same page?
Change management procedures
Change is hard. There’s always scope creep and some getting into reality over how the solution operates from a UX perspective vs. how the team imaged it would work or look. There will be change orders; maybe some additional costs are incurred for functions you thought were explicit but were implied after closer review. Good leadership won’t take that personally and will be transparent and timely in documenting changes and costs. It’s a good reminder not to be pennywise and pound foolish.
Training and supporting new technology
It can be a battle to convince your user community of a new solution’s value and the benefits of embracing it. It takes even longer to get IT, business analysts, and other in-house staff fully trained and prepared to support the technology. When your schedule is at capacity, it’s tempting to devalue the learning process and the importance of offering meaningful training. Consider CBTs, training workshops, and establishing open office hours so that key project staff can help colleagues become familiar with the solution and learn how to utilize it effectively.
Sometimes leadership and IT are more supportive of expanding an established system with in-place infrastructure than investing in a new one. Help them see the value by documenting and accounting for other costs, like person-hours, onsite equipment support, and even risk or lost opportunity costs.
It is also often helpful to have flexible spending options for growth rather than lobbying for new capital expenditure. Options like SaaS or monthly billing and cloud deployments with a technology partner can change project funding. Additionally, when you’ve previously defined a strategic roadmap with leadership involvement, you’ve already set expectations of future funding needs and related ROI.
Minimizing Future Costs
Even though you must perform the required due diligence and change management steps, you can minimize how often you complete them by selecting:
- A vendor that will become a long-term partner in achieving your roadmap and maximizing your investment.
- A trusted advisor with a diverse resource pool and vast horizontal and vertical experience in that technology domain.
- A best-of-breed platform that is broad in functionality and organically developed as a seamless suite rather than pieced together through acquisition.
Look for technology that fits the requirements of your long-term technology goals. Ask the questions below to make sure you’re creating a healthy enterprise, not just buying a departmental band-aide.
Accounts Payable: Will the new solution allow you to connect departments and steps with business process automation to meet the needs of other finance departments or lines of business?
Case Management: Will the new solution allow you to follow a transaction from end to end? Is there a model for external users as well as internal staff?
eForms: Will the new solution help you eliminate all those PDFs on your website? Can you reduce the customer/constituent steps required to initiate a transaction? Think about keeping a visitor on your website instead of downloading a document, filling it out, signing it, and submitting it in multiple visits.
Flexible Technology: Will the new solution be broad enough to support records retention policies, content cleanup, legacy system migration, platform consolidation, line of business integration, and significant digital transformation initiatives?
Utilizing a methodology to document and collaborate throughout your organization and with a partner can create visibility and consensus as you prioritize projects and select the right technology or solution for your needs. ImageSource has a trademarked methodology, the ECMECOSYSTEM™, which utilizes 26+ years of digital transformation and business process automation expertise.