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Technology Never Comes Before Process

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Technology Never Comes Before Process

Over the course of my career in enterprise systems implementations, I’ve seen a lot of projects succeed. I’ve also seen my fair share of failures. Sure, many of the successes were SaaS-based rollouts. They’re naturally easier to roll out given the relative lack of infrastructure pain. No need to worry about servers and client machines because a credit card and a browser are typically all that’s needed to have a working, vanilla application.

Even so, I’ve seen my fair share of cloud-based nightmares. The common thread among many of them was… a lack of process. A lack of process can manifest itself in many ways. Management may have the belief that the rigors of the software will channel the efforts of end-users. They have faith that:

  • users will provide all of the data that management needs to make informed decisions
  • the SaaS tool will prevent users from entering “bad data”
  • the SaaS tool will prevent users from doing things that will negatively impact the business

All wishful thinking.

  • Users do or do not do what their immediate management incentives or punishes them for. If a user is punished for not entering opportunities in their SFA tool, they will enter opportunities in their SFA tool. The day-to-day management of that activity is not a push-button technique. It’s ongoing and it requires constant attention.
  • In any system “bad data is a given. In order to avoid it, just like in any systems rollout, the business users have to do their best to define what “bad data” is, where it can creep into the application (end-user data entry, integration with other systems, even the internet). This analysis is the FIRST not the last step. Over the course of time, as more “bad data” appears, additional steps need to be taken to squash it.
  • Like data, all attempts have to be made up front to determine where end-users of a SaaS either touch customers or mission-critical process. Nearly every major SaaS vendor (NetSuite, salesforce.com, Eloqua, etc) have built sophisticated administrator-defined security models to prevent specified users from touching very powerful functionality. But, just as we saw with data, a close eye must be kept on the access to enterprise-critical functionality.

SaaS is indeed a revolution in technology. To borrow from the Zagat guide, it may very well cut cost of implementation from $$$ to $ but it does not replace the need to properly manage users through their use of the tool, entry of mission-critical data and access to enterprise-critical functionality.

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About the Author

I like winning. From baseball and Uno to Trivial Pursuit and working with clients - it doesn't matter. I founded vConstruct to help companies better compete because I like seeing others win too. A big Red Sox fan living in Austin, Texas, I'm also the proud recipient of multiple consecutive presidential fitness awards from grades 3 through 8.

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