Organization’s business imperatives have more often a mutually-inclusive impact on how it leads its strategic IT initiatives. In other words, aligning IT strategy closely with business strategy and mobilizing the right resources to effort instigates collaboration and collective teamwork those once would have been in parallel existence.
Effective alignment can happen only when IT and business strategy are anchored in clearly articulated scope of capabilities in juxtaposition. Such collaborative capabilities are dynamic and give the organization an ability to adapt to changing market environment especially while implementing enterprise systems that hold strategic importance and hence needs to be anchored to clearly defined scope of business and IT capabilities.
Here is an illustration of a traditional methodology in its simplistic view on various characteristic activities across the life-cycle of an implementation project (See Figure 1). It essentially links and binds together a set of collective activities into a well-defined and distinctive transition plan.
A disciplined scoping holds a paramount importance at the beginning and lays the groundwork for more effectual designing and to subsequent steps of the project. Incoherent and messy scoping leads to unnecessary complexities, since high-profile IT projects are particularly prone to drifting. We need to be vigilant against scope tiptoe, which can cause projects to deviate from their original objectives.
In the planning process, we should clearly articulate and reinforce the project’s business objectives long before the actual transformation. Here are critical guidelines and few success factors that go-a-long-way in scoping the solution to realization.
In the initial stage of the project, we really need to understand the business imperatives, objectives and the challenges – this clear understanding will lead us to scope, approach and timelines and in essence provides a foundation to plan subsequent steps.
Scoping in most of the scenarios, are conducted through business blueprint workshops with the specific process or functional emphasis along with the targeted audience to maximize the effectiveness. At this point, the audience should be expanded to include all of the employees who will use the system with the designated leads.
Client specific scoping templates – functional and business process flows, scoping of requirements, requirements fit-gap, and workshop take aways etc. – drafted well in advance are exceedingly effective. They help us in systematic and organized scoping of requirements and also reduce time overall to accelerate the process.
Solution walk-through process flows can be of great help in mapping client-specific functional and business process requirements to the functionality and we should maximize the usage of the off-the-self solutions for they would accomplish most of the project’s objectives at lower cost. With this approach we can identify gaps and customizing, recommend potential workarounds for gaps, and suggest enhancements and improvement opportunities.
Consolidate the scoping requirements, prioritize requirements, solution gaps/enhancements and present the findings of the workshops to reassure clear alignment between proposed IT capability, business measures addressing key pain-points and desired outcomes.
All the customization's should be reflected on the costs to build and support them over the project’s lifetime. In all, we should limit customization's to no more than 20% of the standard, and those modifications should focus on central capabilities that are essential to business imperatives and its success. Customization beyond these levels can make future upgrades too costly and time consuming, undermining a fundamental benefit of packaged solution.
The scoping schedule should always include the freezing time. However, some addition in scope may be justifiable to stay up-to-date with market and competitive demands. But in general, clarity of scoping that defines what the project will and won’t accomplish reduces the likelihood of inconveniences and its impact on the overall project scope and timeline.
In practicality, often users request new features during testing phase of the project and we should be prepared to evaluate those requests in the context of the project’s original objectives and accordingly accommodate with the necessary approvals. The scoping issues should always be discussed in its objectivity separating the issues from the people.
The needs of the organization will change over time and its capabilities must keep pace with them. This requires constant coordination between IT and the business units, on-going assessment and reviews of the IT priorities, timely scoping and allocation of resources. However, the essential capabilities remain relatively stable. Once the new system has been rolled out, it’s important to continue to measure the operational and behavioral changes that will lead to the sought-after benefits.
As IT capabilities become aligned with business imperatives and strategies, its relationship to the business matures and deepens over time. The IT organization’s ultimate objective is to function seamlessly as part of the business and then evolve into a trusted partner.
Disciplined scoping of solution makes way for a complete and all-inclusive methodology, ensuring that the requirements are identified, summarized, prioritized and documented with the necessary approvals during the scoping phase of the project. Whilst, governance is the bridge between promise and delivery – there always is a better way, however – it’s the people who make the difference.
When we collectively work together, as a team with the shared values and the simplicity of virtues, we can bring about business-transformations through successful implementations of projects that truly deliver on value and desired outcome with the lasting impact.