Saturday 8 December 2007

Its all about the method....

One interesting challenge for organisations implementing and integrating mixed technology and "suite" solutions is which method(s) to use. For many eBiz implementations the standard approach would be to use Oracle's Applications Implementation Method (AIM) and Conference Room Pilots. For Siebel implementations the standard approach is to use ePlan. For interfaces and integration a more "modern" approach of using community development and wikis can be employed.

Normally this is pretty simple - you look at what you are implementing and choose one approach - but one size does not fit all, and what if you have multiple work streams, implementing multiple technologies and with multiple suppliers (internal and external) delivering into the programme?

Here are some quick tips:

1. Ensure that the method(s) are agreed up front between all workstreams and suppliers and ensure that ALL parties have a common understanding of the methods, approaches and timelines. Sounds obvious but often these things are left open to "interpretation" and a supplier saying "yes I understand" does not always mean that they have the same understanding as you.

2. Get the business engaged right from the beginning. Again it sounds like project management 101 but with large, complex, multi vendor and technology implementations this is not always easy.

3. Get it on a blooming big picture so all can see how the methods and timelines join up. Visually representing the methods, approaches and milestones makes such a difference.

4. Get ready to coach and manage more than you expect. Not all suppliers are experienced in certain approaches. If you do not have lead consultants who are highly experienced in the methods you may need to coach more than you would like. Make sure you have someone who has practical (not theoretical) skills in a method and approach. Get a consultant on your side if you have done such a programme before.

5. Be strong and prepared to stay the course. It can become too easy sometimes to move from an approach because things get tricky. Joining up testing for example: System, Link, Integration, Conference Room Pilots, UAT, OAT etc can be a very complex and painful process if you have multiple workstreams and multiple technologies that may need data, test harnesses, users, environments etc. Dig deep and push on. It will be worth it. Make sure you have a good test team!

What methods work well when integrating a multi-vendor, multi-technology fabric in an organisation? Well there is no silver bullet solution. From experience I rate conference room pilots and iterative development on most technologies (including Siebel!) as it gets the user community engaged right from the start, and gets them 'owning' the solution early on - and that is invaluable, indeed a must have, for any organisation wanting to put a large enterprise solution in place.

Let me know your thoughts on this one.....

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