We began the series by stating that simply good isn’t good enough. That in today’s competitive climate, which requires companies to innovate, expand their service or product portfolios, and contemplate what’s next at a faster pace than ever before, satisfaction with incremental gains is a setback. Most companies put off digital transformations because they see the cost as overhead, an expense to avoid, and not a necessity for future survival.
If you’ve been following my series, Making the Case for a Digital Transformation, it’s apparent that such a venture can stretch out over many months – if not longer. Not every business has that kind of time to spare, and you may be asking yourself: “What can I do if I have to get a new platform up and running in the next quarter or two?”
With tacit approval from senior management to pick a solution and spend what it takes (within reason), here’s my advice for fast-tracking your digital transformation.
Now that the case for a digital transformation has been made and the go ahead given, it’s time for your supply chain software implementation...but don’t think it will be a walk in the park. It’s common to have a bit of friction between company departments – especially during transformations. Stamp out ‘turf battles’ early and map out a plan right away, so you can easily course correct when issues or delays inevitably arise. How you define success will also play a significant role throughout the process – don’t overpromise but strive to overdeliver.
With a promising software provider determined and the backing of your network, it’s time to pull together your resources, construct a business case for the digital transformation, and make a strong and informed recommendation.
If you’re in a larger or public company, you will likely have a predetermined format for presenting a business case. Since this involves an investment decision, your finance organization should have a structured, formulaic template to use. Smaller or private companies will usually have a handful of people making the decision, with a greater focus on a “why and how much?” rationale.
Having sat through countless board and executive committee meetings in many different companies, and in a range of such scenarios, I’ve seen my fair share of both compelling and derailed presentations. Without getting overly prescriptive, here are some observations on the best ways to fully prepare, expect the unexpected, and make an effective business case.
Digital transformations are hard work and require more than just technology to be successful. In the countless times I’ve managed multi-party setups, the greatest obstacle was consistently the most intangible one: Trust. Companies today are networks, so if your partners aren’t on board with your vision, the solution you choose – no matter how robust – will ultimately fail. As you define your priorities, also use this process as an opportunity to consult your network about how your needs align.
Up until now, the process of choosing software providers has been all talk. As thorough as your due diligence may be, there’s always the possibility that what a prospective vender claims they can do does not ultimately align with what you’ve imagined. Moreover, if you’re hedging your bets on innovators, you want to do everything you can to minimize risk and go into the partnership confident that you’ve made a sound choice.
There are two ways to accomplish that: by checking references and conducting a live demo stress test.
Both the digital transformation and each software provider are multi-faceted, so think of these next stages of the discovery process as ‘peeling back layers of the onion.’ The surface layers involve understanding each vendor’s capabilities and bid components. Slightly deeper are the back-end particulars of the transformation; your team will be focusing on everything from the platform to the financial and commercial terms to ensure the products and services you choose align well with your priorities and that the rollout will be feasible and smooth.
Knowing what you want and how to convey it is only half the battle. There is still an overwhelming number of software vendors to choose from, with differing specialties, many of whom offer variations on the same solutions. With so many options and variables to weigh, how do you qualify vendors based on your priorities and what does it take to earn them a seat at your table?
Here is how I like to approach the process, based on what’s worked for me.
Approaching a digital transformation can seem daunting. There are many considerations and software providers, so how do you determine which solutions are best? After assembling a small, cross-functional team, outline a strategic approach for summarizing your intentions and highlighting priorities for the initiative.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss how to effectively approach the task and apply your decisions to the vendor selection process.
We opened this series by discussing why digital transformation and continuous improvements are critical to long-term success. But once you’ve made this realization, how do you actually make it happen in an effective and streamlined way? Just because you’ve discovered the key to your company’s inefficiencies and the importance of aiming higher doesn’t mean everyone else does. Besides, small to mid-size businesses don’t typically have a dedicated professional or department to oversee the endeavor, so you need to champion internal support.
Here, we’ll take a quick look at how to craft a value proposition for executive sponsorship, then focus on who you should enlist to ensure the endeavor is handled intelligently and without delay.
Having spent over 25 years in the supply chain industry, I noticed that while companies diligently assess their performance and capabilities, they are often unmotivated to improve as long as they do better or earn more than the year before. Satisfaction with small, incremental gains is a setback. The mindset usually stems from the presumption that additional growth demands significant spend, time, resources, and disruption.
In light of this, I’m launching a blog series to relate my perspective as an actual practitioner who has evaluated, selected, justified, and implemented software solutions for e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse management, supply and demand planning, transportation and logistics management, supply chain control towers, reverse logistics, and depot repair. There’s a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the process of systems upgrades, why they are necessary, and what it takes to set them in motion.