Reduce The Time To Tech Implementation Value
By Matt Pillar, editor in chief
After the tech purchase decision comes the hard part – the need’s been defined, the money’s been spent, the consultant’s been hired. Now it’s time to get to the hard work of implementation, knowing that you’re still months – if not years – away from realizing a return.
At a time when technology investment decisions are protracted, retailers can’t afford the same lag time once the decision’s finally been made. At RedShift last Wednesday, RedPrairie President Joe Juliano hosted a panel of executives from RedPrairie customer companies, all of whom recently completed, or participated in, major tech initiatives in minor periods of time. Panelists included:
- Jim Wenner, CIO, Sheetz
- Grant Anderson, VP of IT, Tuesday Morning
- Michael Roberts, VP of IT, Exel
- Lloyd Carter, Ops Manager, Beaver Street Fisheries
- Brian Girouard, Leader, Global CPRDT Sector Consumer Products, Retail, Distribution & Transportation, CapGemini
The group shared its collective thoughts on how to accelerate the time to value once a technology purchase decision has been made, the sleeves are rolled up, and it’s time to plug it in. Here are the highlights of the conversation:
- Build an implementation team from the top down. Secure executive sponsorship, and make sure they’re active in the project from the outset. Executive-level sponsorship is key to getting the right people on board and committed to the project, and it’s also key to getting the wrong people out of the way.
- Involve IT, operations, and executive management, but don’t let IT drive the bus. When IT drives the bus, agreed the executives, it’s a long ride. Make sure motivated functional departments are pushing the project forward, which will almost guarantee a quicker achievement.
- Ensure that the key people from every relevant business group – key meaning people who have the authority to make decisions – are in every planning and execution meeting. This way, decisions can be made directly in those meetings, as opposed to being tabled, postponed, or subject to a belabored volley of e-mail communication.
- If it’s decided that there will be no modifications made to the software, process change will likely be required. Making sure decision makers are on your team will allow you to enable and enforce those process changes. On a related note, don’t underestimate the value of change management. Don’t cut it from the budget.
- Leverage vendor partners for the “best practice” intelligence they’ve gathered from experience with similar retailers.
- Seek out project accelerators – process models, standards, specifications, and test scripts.
- Put a stake in the ground – an end date – and meet that goal at all costs. If necessary, move the deadline by paring back “nice to haves” and pulling together only the necessities to hit the goal date.
- Be prepared to roll with the changes after go-live. Expect that it won’t be perfect when you flip the switch. Reporting is a common example – business users think they know what they want, but be sure to revisit the implementation four weeks after go live. Their report requests will indeed have changed.
- Get involved in user groups, network with peers, and learn how others optimized rollout and post-implementation.
These suggestions carry more weight in an industry marked by solutions-starved IT infrastructures. When projects finally get green lighted, following this simple advice can significantly improve your time to value, which amounts to a quick start out of the blocks in the race to ROI.