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Technology platform assessment and implementation

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Background

At some point in time organisations have invested in technology solutions to operate efficiently, grow their revenue lines and drive customer satisfaction. Today, many Small to Medium business (“SMB”) firms have a mix of technology software platforms that have been implemented over a number of years.

This mix is further complicated due to the changing needs of the business over time – what was suitable to support the firm when the platform was chosen may no longer cater for the organisation due to growth, diversification, missed initial requirements or an altered business model.

As a result, IT solutions today in the SMB space are often legacy or low level systems partially integrated with a variety of third party point application software modules that were chosen at a later time to cater for one specific part of the operation. The DAB Financial Group is consistently seeing in our customer set this mix of different applications at varying upgrade levels all attempting to integrate with the original core legacy system chosen years before. This situation combines to stop high potential firms from operating at their peak performance.

These clients experience  an increasingly unique and isolated software environment with a high dependency on dedicated IT personnel and support costs. The real impact, however, is that of the lost market opportunity to the potential competitor who operates at a higher efficiency level, drives better prospect and client engagement and is doing so at a lower cost base.

Need and Compelling Event

Many SMB firms acknowledge they need new technology but lack the skills, time or methodology to initially identify what all stakeholders need, efficiently approach the market to determine the right technology options and then successfully implement the solution.

Hiring an internal IT resource at this senior skill level is a long-term, high-cost investment for an emerging firm. This is accompanied with the delay in getting the individual up to speed with existing processes and the uncertainty and risk associated with putting the firms future in the hands of one person.

Small to medium entities  cannot afford any loss of business due to technology design or implementation error and it is essential that business processes are identified and understood from the beginning – before the software platform is chosen to automate those procedures to support the organisation.

DAB Approach

Resulting from our clients requests the DAB Financial Group has developed the following approach to maximise the success of a technology implementation.

Each of these steps can be provided on a single engagement basis or the client can choose to engage DAB expertise for the complete process.

Requirements Analysis

The DAB team commences with a thorough requirements analysis where we source information from all levels of the business that will be impacted or need to be serviced by the proposed new platform. This typically includes the Director(s)/CEO, Department Managers and impacted employees. DAB business analysts will interview, document, confirm and consolidate all stakeholders needs and requirements.

Findings are presented in an initial workshop, input, competing priorities and issues identified and the result is then converted to a formal document representing the business needs that a potential technology platform must cater for now and for an agreed future time frame.

Functional Specification and Design

As a next step the client can choose to engage the DAB team utilise their understanding of the business needs and converts that into a Functional Specification and Design document detailing how the technology should present and function at a detailed level. DAB consultants do this by engaging with key stakeholders to ensure that their data and process requirements are both documented and sufficiently detailed to fulfill their job role responsibilities to the business. Once DAB has mutual agreement that this is correct, DAB will then have enough information to generate an Expression of Interest/Tender opportunity document as a formal deliverable to the client who may choose to issue this to the marketplace.

Go to market

On request the DAB team can then actively take the defined opportunity to the marketplace of likely technology solution providers.

As DAB regularly assist a number of our clients with technology assessment, our consultants continually maintain an ongoing relationship with a number of SMB focused high quality Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) software providers and this knowledge significantly reduces the invitation and selection process of potential providers.

This is a four-part process where:

  1. DAB takes the Functional Specification and Design document to the market and seek responses from identified/targeted technology companies
  2. Once responses have been received, the DAB analysts thoroughly evaluate all proposals for suitability, design, implementation methodology, scalability, support, training and price
  3. DAB then prepares a shortlist of recommendations and presents back to our client for mutual discussion/review. Typically 1-2 vendors are invited to demonstrate their approach and key software functionality to the major stakeholders in the clients firm with facilitation by the DAB Consultant.
  4. Final recommendation and selection is then made with the client

Implementation and project management

On our clients request DAB can provide Project Advisor oversight to ensure that the chosen implementation provider delivers the technology solution to agreed timelines and software module priorities. This will include insistence on and review of tightly defined Gantt chart-based Project Management milestones the clear achievement of which is tied to approval of pre-agreed progress payments to the software provider.

The DAB Advisers function is to provide project review to complement the actions of the software implementation firm with the objective of ensuring that the technology solution meets the original functional design specifications and delivers a robust and complete technology solution to meet the business drivers defined in the initial Requirements Analysis stage.

Outcome

The DAB technology solution approach combines best practice requirements analysis methodology with a real world understanding of the implementation of ERP solutions in the Small to Medium business marketplace. Our objective is to streamline the process through a collaborative partnership between the client, the software implementor and the DAB Advisor with the intention of reducing client risk and maximising the benefit of the technology platform to drive the desired business outcomes.

Next Step

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