With the amount of new technology out there today, choosing the right solution to fit the needs of your Finance organization and your budget can be a challenge. Choose the wrong one and you could be stuck with a solution that requires workarounds, has functionality you don’t need and/or blows your budget. Doing your homework up front and including the right people in the evaluation of the technology and the ultimate decision can help ensure a successful implementation and long-term benefits for the organization.
It actually starts even before you begin evaluating the available solutions. What are you currently trying to solve for and what do you need in the future? As you process map your future state, consider your current pain points and how new technology could eliminate these. Look for ways to improve the process, whether it be driving more efficiencies, providing more meaningful data for business decisions, or enhancing the reporting capabilities, to name a few.
Another question to ask upfront is if there are any initiatives on your organization’s technology roadmap that could impact your solution at a later date? Will there be a need to connect the solution to other applications? If the answer is yes to either of these, you will want to ensure the solution you choose will be a good fit. Having the foresight to consider what the future could hold and how that could impact your needs down the road will ensure the solution you choose fits the organization over the long haul. Simply solving for current state, as well as not considering the overall technology roadmap for the organization, is shortsighted and could cost you in the end.
Another key to a successful implementation is including the right people. One of the most important stakeholders to include is your IT partners. I learned the hard way about not pulling in the right people in the early stages of evaluating a technology solution. Not only did it frustrate the IT team when I did bring them in towards the end, it caused additional work for everyone involved including the vendor. We were rushed at the end and had to do some redesign. I now like to bring my IT partners into the fold right from the start – meaning when I begin contemplating the need for a new solution. They can provide a technical perspective that my team and I simply don’t have. The questions they ask and the solutioning they can provide are valuable to the overall evaluation process.
Other stakeholders I like to include in the evaluation process are the end users. As an example, our budget process is decentralized, so each function has a budget manager who uses the budget system to set the annual budget and reforecast throughout the year. When we implemented a new budget system a couple of years ago, we included a few of the heavy budget users in the process. They not only helped evaluate technology solutions, they also helped with reengineering the process and the end user testing. Who better to help with this than the people who use it throughout the year? Their insights to improving the process and making sure we had a solution that fit was key to the success of the implementation.
Including your IT partners and key stakeholders, as well as thinking through your future needs and process improvements, will help ensure you have a smooth implementation and land on a solution that your organization can benefit from for the long-term. Time spent up front will save a lot of time and money on the back end!