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Successful EPM solution delivery: don't forget the blind side

It’s not only hiring the best consulting firm that will lead a project towards success. It’s not only the knowledge of the consultants on the floor that will create a robust and sustainable solution. And it’s not only about delivering a working solution on time and on budget.
So here is a legitimate question: what else is there?
One would be surprised how much more there is to a successful implementation of an EPM solution. and how much little of that can be influenced  by the implementation partner.
Consider the following points:
         1)      User adoption
         2)      Workforce effectiveness
         3)      Process documentation (and compliance)
         4)      Change Management
         5)      Organization knowledge
         6)      Reducing Testing Efforts
Let’s pick point 1: User Adoption. It’s frustrating investing into a brand new shiny EPM application able to support your closing & reporting cycle and to process information down to 10% of its original time and have end-users complaining and rejecting it. Why do they? In all of us, there is a certain degree of change reluctance, and it becomes evident when a change is brutal and impactful. In other words a gradual involvement can be the key of user adoption.
Let’s move on point 2: Effectiveness. It’s contradictory for and end-user to accept a change which causes its work effectiveness to be reduced. Everybody faces a learning curve. Initiating the curve before the go-live of an EPM solution is a good trick to have end-users confidence at a sufficient level when they will be required to get into action.
Point 3: Process Documentation. It’s not uncommon that documentation is pushed as a last item of the priority list in an EPM implementation. Strangely, company politics demand a working solution but not an accepted solution. And even more strangely those politics don’t consider the power of end-user documentation in relation to the total cost of ownership of an application. Documentation is key for user adoption (point 1), workforce effectiveness (point 2) and keeping an optimal level of internal knowledge available regardless of the rate of employee turnover, and all other points to follow.
Point 4: Change Management. Does reaching go-live mean that the change the brand new EPM application has caused can be contained within a definite start and end? In other words, is performance management a static process? If one believes yes, we suggest to strongly challenge the business case behind the EPM implementation. Change Management is a discipline implicit to Performance Management which has to be flexible enough to adapt to the business, follow market developments and include continuously new or less variables accordingly. Setting up a process that supports fluidly the changes and pushes them towards the end-user community is key for the survival of an EPM application.
Point 5: Organizational Knowledge. All companies experience a certain degree of employee turnover. Some of them are unfortunate and suffer from turnover peaks at crucial times of a project implementation.  Best practice has taught us not to rely on a one time training class to empower key-users to take over responsibility for the EPM application. First, we strongly believe that a one-time training course is never sufficient to transform key-users to power-users and be able to disseminate enough awareness and promotion of the change itself. Second is not sufficient to retain process knowledge internally if a percentage of these trainees leave the organization unexpectedly.
Capturing and documenting system transactions, test scripts, system processes, process flows, creating simulations, introducing best practices, involving users to edit the documentation content, provide just-in-time support are just a fraction of the possibilities that can be introduced to complement training bootcamps and key/end-user courses. Their costs are probably comparable and on the upside they are resilient to employee turnover.
Point 6: Reducing Testing Efforts. In many implementations, testing is not carried out enough prior go-live or going to production with a simple change. There is nothing more frustrating for end-users to request a change and have it implemented wrongly. It’s in everybody’s interest to carry out user acceptance tests (UAT) and protect the production environment data. UAT, as essential as it may be, can put quite a strain on a project or department resources. Test plans are easy to create and deploy manually but very hard to maintain. Consider the possibility to capture test steps automatically, eliminate manual writing errors, create reusable documentation, accelerate testing cycles, improve accuracy, apply simulations, track usage to measure effectiveness, and publish & share on multiple formats. It’s not science fiction but a reality delivered by market ready user productivity kits.
Our Top Dimension Architects have a long experience in EPM implementations and a good understanding of project dynamics. As such we have introduced, according to project and user community size, the usage of user productivity kits in the past and we will continue to do so.
These handy kits are a perfect complement to any implementation. They offer advanced but user friendly features to create and maintain a Learning Management System (LMS) which can tackle all of the previously mentioned challenges.
Discover what the Oracle UPK is all about here.
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