Crowdsourcing BPM?

One reason that global business process improvement and organizational change management initiatives fail is that they are driven from the perspective of a single business unit, usually the one closest to headquarters where the project sponsors are. Until recently, the other alternative was to painstakingly audit the similarities and differences across multiple business units in multiple locations, and piece together something that meets everyone’s needs.

As an alternative, the Center of Excellence for a particular process area can provide a light framework that prevents crowdsources input from across the organization.  The RACI chart is a great tool for setting some crowdsourcing boundaries, and safeguarding against anarchy. The goal of any Center of Excellence in a particular area like Supply Chain, Finance, IT or Customer Service, is to develop reliable, predictable, repeatable performance, no matter who is doing the work or where in the world it is being done.

Many businesses already crowdsource input from their customers with a variety of survey methods and incentives, but many still struggle with how to effectively pull together and act on the input from their global employee base.

With the adoption of collaboration tools such as Microsoft Sharepoint, and Microsoft Lync, process and organizational change initiatives can be driven from a single center of process excellence, but they can crowdsource improvement input across multiple process owners, process participants, and what we have always called the “process customers” – those who receive the value added outputs of any discrete business process.

The toolset provides broad opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration.

  • Use Lync within your organization for scheduled voice/video meetings that allow collaborative authoring of process documentation.
  • To bridge the difference in timezones and keep the ball rolling between these sessions, Sharepoint offers rich capabilities for collaboration on working documents and drawings, which can then be officially published to the broader audience by the Center of Excellence.

The Case for a Business Case when Rolling Out SharePoint 2010

Before Migrating to SharePoint 2010 or Implementing SharePoint for the first time – do a business case!

The facts are stark: Almost 70% of enterprises are using SharePoint (Source) however the results of a survey conducted by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) indicate that less than 50 percent of SharePoint implementations were subject to a formal business case, and only half of those that did required a financial justification. (Source)

Even if you’re sure you want to implement SharePoint for the first time or migrate to SharePoint 2010, it’s a good idea to do a business case. Why? Not just because it’s good form.  Unfortunately, organizations that skip this step risk taking steps in the wrong direction instead of rectifying identified problems with elegant solutions.

First, let’s take a look at what a business case is:

  • A document or statement that captures the reasoning for initiating a project
  • An acknowledgement of resources needed to complete the project and an understanding of the net value to the organization of doing the project
  • An accounting of quantifiable and unquantifiable benefits of doing the project
  • An outline of the known risks of doing the project
  • A look at the alternatives to the planned implementation, including doing nothing

SharePoint 2010 is a great product, with many new features including seamless integration with Office, major improvements to Search, and great collaboration features.  So, why is it a good idea to do a business case even when you’re already clear that you want to migrate to SharePoint 2010 or implement SharePoint for the first time?

The act of creating the business case begins to make the successes and impacts of the project a reality. In the case of SharePoint 2010, one of the first important tasks is to really articulate what SharePoint will be FOR YOU and your organization.  SharePoint is multifaceted.  The more focused an organization can be on what it needs out of SharePoint, the more likely its implementation will be successful.

Writing a business case means thinking about the questions of why are we doing this? What are the costs, timescale, benefits, and risks?  Having thought through these questions and their answers, even best guesses at ROI and benefits, and presenting them in a well formed document provides you with something to share and enables you to involve other people. Such a document is a good means of getting buy-in and socializing the changes you want to see, as early in the planning stages. Even when change will bring a positive outcome, it’s never easy to get everyone on the same page for a smooth transition.  SharePoint can never be rolled out by one individual – as a system it will need at least cooperation from just about everyone in an organization, and starting with a clear understanding of why the change is happening and what the benefits are provides a solid foundation for success.

Even in organizations planning a migration to SharePoint 2010, there are multiple ways and reasons to migrate. The costs can be considerable, just like the benefits.  Consider this statement from Rob Helm, an analyst from Directions on Microsoft:  “SharePoint 2010 will challenge even companies already using SharePoint… Even for existing users, there are differences. The way supporting services are managed is different. Administrators and architects will need a lot of ramp-up time to understand the new product version. In some areas, it’s an even bigger jump than we saw moving from SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007.”  (Source)

“Technology provides no benefits of its own; it is the application of technology to business opportunities that produces ROI.”  —Robert McDowell, In Search of Business Value   (Source)

Getting specific on the tensions solved by migrating to or implementing SharePoint 2010 not only allows your organization to do the right thing for its growth, but also to have the means to look back and assess success.

If, like many organizations do, you plan on hiring a vendor to do the implementation or migration, you will want this information prepared to communicate your needs to the vendor.  You’ll be better able to evaluate the vendor’s proposals and solutions if you’ve thought your needs and concerns through. Edgewater does many SharePoint implementation and migration projects and no two are ever the same.  It’s important that you use SharePoint to build solutions to the problems specific to your business. Don’t just skim the surface and fit your needs to a list of features that you know of or that already exist. This will lead to poor adoption and waste of your resources. The better you understand your actual needs, the better your solution can be.

Another important facet of the business case for SharePoint is that it encourages you to focus on ROI – it’s important for companies to really understand the long term costs of a SharePoint implementation.  When implemented correctly, SharePoint 2010 can save your business considerable costs and streamline your processes.

In addition, training is critical to making any conversion a success.  Sitting down to write or review a business case can be the first step in really thinking through what it means to make a successful change, how best to do it, and what it means in terms of specific costs and specific benefits to the organization.

So a good business case:

  • Backs up a decision to transition to SharePoint 2010
  • Forecasts expected ROI and other intangible benefits
  • Provides a vehicle for buy-in for both decision makers and potential users
  • Outlines measurable goals for the business, ensures actions are in-line with ideas
  • Reveals level of effort to implement a new SharePoint platform
  • Is a good vehicle to socialize the thinking and set expectations

A good business case can help your company focus on allocating the right resources, know what to expect, and be clear on what constitutes a successful project completion.  If your business case is convincing at a certain price point, and all your RFP responses come in higher than that, you’ll readily know if the project is really worth pursuing, or what portion of it to focus on first if you’ve written a good business case.

As author J. Peter Bruzzese  puts it, “SharePoint 2010 is jam-packed with new features that matter, ones that will increase productivity if used properly. I predict the number of companies using SharePoint is going to soar with this next release. I’ve been working with SharePoint since its first release (where I hated it) through 2007 (where it was growing on me) on to 2010 (where I can honestly say I’m really impressed by and loving it).” (Source) There are many resources available through searching online to assist with creating a business case for SharePoint 2010, but only someone with real knowledge of YOUR organization can write the business case for you, and ensure you’re using SharePoint 2010 properly to serve your business’s needs.

— — —

Related post on ROI of Enterprise 2.0:
https://edgewatertech.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/why-ceo%E2%80%99s-must-care-about-enterprise-20-as-a-strategic-imperative/

Keeping it Fresh: The 6 Pillars of Web Content Governance

Content. It is the bane of existence for web marketing managers everywhere. As soon as a new site is up and running, the content is getting old in inaccurate by the minute. Chasing business owners to revise, update or write new content is a constant struggle. To make it worse, many areas may not have an owner at all..

Fancy CMS systems were supposed to solve all that with expiration dates on content and distributed ownership but the tools themselves are just the means. People still need to use them.

That is where Web Content Governance comes in.

Web Content Governance is the overall approach to the way content is created, managed and maintained intended to ensure consistency, accuracy, relevance and compliance. It generally comprises of 6 main components: Process, Structure, Policies, Standards, Ownership, Processes and the Systems that are used to enable, enforce and automate them.

The details of each component vary between companies but generally include the following:

  • Process
    • Creation
    • Updates
    • Retention / expiration
    • Archiving
    • Workflows:
      • Editorial review
      • Legal review
      • Brand Review
      • Publishing
  • Structure
    • Content classification
    • Media types
    • Taxonomy and Metadata
    • Hierarchy and inheritance
  • Policies
    • Legal
    • Security
    • Data collection
    • E-mail
  • Ownership
    • Roles
    • Permissions
    • Escalation
  • Standards
    • Brand Guidelines
    • Content guidelines
    • Accessibility
    • Legal
    • Copyrights
  • Systems
    • Content Management System (CMS)
    • Digital Asset Management (DAM)
    • Document Management
    • Business Process Management (BPM)

Few tips and tricks

  1. Assign a bad cop. A senior enough executive who would be the enforcer.
  2. Build a team of champions. Department of area champions who have enough familiarity with the tools and can provide knowledge and communication channel to different business units and groups. The team should meet on a regular basis.
  3. Use automation. The ability to set content expiration is a great way to ensure all content is looked at (however briefly) regularly.
  4. Don’t relinquish control over the last step. Someone from the centralized web / marketing team should still review every page before it is being published

Personnel, personnel, everywhere, nor any data to drink.

IT’S UNFORTUNATE: Large amounts of money are spent on new hires, yet little is left for employee and data improvement

I recently had an Executive Director of a Cancer Institute tell me,

“At this time, we plan to use simple spreadsheets for our database.  We are committing more than $500,000 for investment in personnel to start our translational laboratory this year.  I hope  we can subsist with simple spreadsheet use for our pilot studies.”

This sentiment immediately followed a detailed discussion, one that I’m very familiar with, concerning disparate researchers’ databases and how organizations’ needs remain unsatisfied, suffering from lack of integrated data.

Just so we’re all on the same page, let me make sure I understand this situation correctly –

  1. You are currently using “simple spreadsheets” to assist researchers with all things data. You’ve astutely noticed that these stale methods don’t meet your needs, and you agreed to a meeting with Edgewater because you’ve heard positive success stories from other cancer centers.
  2. You just spent three quarters of a million dollars on fresh staff for a new translational lab.
  3. You are now budget-constrained because of this arrangement and want these new hires to use “simple spreadsheets” to do their new job… the same ineffective and inefficient spreadsheets, of course, that caused the initial trouble.

Did I understand all that correctly? I didn’t grow up in the ’60s, so I’ll continue to pass on what he’s smoking.

So who wins with this strategy, you ask? No one!

We keep buying things thinking ‘that’ll look better’ and it just doesn’t

It’s unfortunate for the researchers because they continue to rely on an antiquated approach for data collection and analysis that will continue to plague this organization for years to come.

How many opportunities will be overlooked because a researcher becomes overwhelmed by his data?

It’s unfortunate for the organization because it’s nearly impossible to scale volumes (data aggregation, analysis, more clinical trials, more federal/state grant submissions, etc.) with such a fragmented approach. How much IP will walk out of the door for these organizations on those simple spreadsheets?

It’s unfortunate for the brand because it can’t market or advertise any advances, operationally or clinically, that will attract new patients.

It’s unfortunate for the patients because medicine as an industry collectively suffers when:

  • Surgeons under the same roof don’t recognize and notify their counterpart researchers that they have perfect candidates for the clinical trials they’re unaware of.
  • Executives continue to suffer budget declines from lower patient volumes and less additional revenue from industries partnering with cancer centers that have their act together.
  • Researchers under a single roof don’t know what each other are doing.

As in the picture above, “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better.” Ancillary personnel and sheets of data don’t necessarily equate to a better outcome. Why continue to add more, knowing that this won’t solve the problem? Why infect more new hires with the same sick system? Why addition instead of introspection?

So, just as I told him in my response, I look forward to hearing from you in about 12-18 months; that’s roughly the amount of time it took the last dozen clients to call Edgewater back to save them from themselves.

How does your company handle major change?

Although many large technology initiatives fail because an inadequate or inefficient change management framework, many companies still lack a consistent approach in supporting their employees and external stakeholders through major system implementations and other significant business initiatives.

 

 

There are many reasons for this.

  • The roles and responsibilities for communication, training, and monitoring performance remain vague.
  • The approach varies from department to department.
  • Information is pushed out once in the wrong format (usually by email) and not made available on a portal under version control. We see this often in companies that have an immature or outdated collaboration style.

We’ve put together a short poll on change management approaches. Please take a moment to tell us how your organization handles major change, and share your thoughts in the comments.

Five keys to thriving during hypergrowth

When your successful strategy pays off and you find your business in a period of hypergrowth, keeping everything moving forward in alignment (instead of spinning out of control) is your biggest challenge. Here are five keys to sustaining your success:

1. Work smarter, not harder – review your business processes and look for ways to eliminate tasks that don’t add significant value, or automate manual handoffs.

2. Great tools are always a good investment – you can’t sustain hypergrowth with yellow pads and Excel spreadsheets. Put more power into the hands of key users, so they don’t have to rely on IT for queries and reports.

3. Keep an eye on profits while focusing on growth. Sustain your sales momentum, but eliminate waste and manage your profit margins.  Make sure you are getting maximum value out of your marketing efforts, as well as keeping an eye on your cost of goods sold.

4. Bureaucracy strangles growth – your backoffice organization should avoid imposing cumbersome processes on the parts of your business that sell, produce and deliver your products and services. Use effective collaboration tools to cut the middlemen out of your business processes.

5. Choose meaningful KPI’s. Less is more–they aren’t KEY performance indicators if you have a list of 20 KPI’s  for one area of the business. Hypergrowth KPI’s differ from downturn KPI’s.  

If you are in a rapid growth phase, what are you tracking now? If you are hoping to achieve hypergrowth what are your KPI’s? Leave us a comment.

SharePoint 2010 Migration: Options & Planning

Many organizations that are running SharePoint 2003/2007 or other CMS are either actively considering or in the midst of upgrading to SharePoint 2010. In this blog we will look at what is involved in upgrading to SharePoint 2010, various options available for the upgrade, and initial planning that needs to precede the migration.

 There are two basic methods of upgrading/migrating from an older version of SharePoint to SharePoint 2010 that are provided by Microsoft: in-place upgrade and database attach upgrade. In addition, there are numerous third-party tools that can help you migrate content and upgrade to SharePoint 2010 not only from an older version of SharePoint but also from other CMS’. Each method has its own set of benefits depending on the objectives of the migration and specifics of the environment. When selecting a migration path, some of the aspects you may need to consider include:

  • Ability to take the production system offline during the migration
  • Amount of change involved in content and its organization during migration
  • Number of customizations (web parts, themes, meta-data, workflows, etc.)
  • Amount of content being migrated
  • Need to upgrade hardware
  • Need to preserve server farm settings

It is much easier to migrate a clean and lean environment than an environment that is full of obsolete content, unused features and broken customization. Start with cleaning up your existing sites and check for the orphaned sites, lists, web parts, etc. Remove any content that is no longer in use, remove unused features and ensure used features are present and working. Once your existing SharePoint site is in tiptop shape you are ready to plan your migration steps.

Before you put your migration/upgrade in motion you need to understand what migration aspects you can compromise on and hard constraints you have. For example:

  • Can you afford to put your environment in read-only mode for the duration of the upgrade?
  • Does the amount of content you have make it prohibitive to copy it over the network?
  • Do you have a lot of customization that you have to deal with?
  • Are you planning to reorganize or selectively migrate your content?

The answers to these kinds of questions will direct your choice of migration tools. Here is a check list that will help you get organized.


Customizations can have a big impact on how quickly and smoothly your migration goes. Therefore it is important to identify and account for as many of them as possible. PreUpgradeCheck can help but here is a list to help you identify and uncover customizations that can add complexity to your migration efforts.

CRM TCO

We here at Edgewater have had a surprising number of customer conversations recently about skyrocketing CRM costs associated with a very popular hosted CRM package (that shall remain nameless).  In many cases, the conversation goes…

“The CRM initiative was driven by the business (which is great), and initial costs were palatable.  One or two years down the road: deep discounts are a thing of the past and the seat count has doubled or tripled.  Looking to the future all that can be seen is increasing cost; and there are not a lot of options for containing those costs.”

 An obvious question comes up – Can you justify these costs for a CRM platform?  CRM has tremendous benefits of course if it’s really leveraged, but does the annual cost of admission have to be so high?

Our answer is no.  You do have other platform options.  Quite frankly, the best CRM solutions are very similar in look and feel, are very configurable, and have almost identical capabilities.  We’re helping lots of customers adopt MS Dynamics CRM which we’ve found to be a very strong solution.  And it’s a lot less expensive.

Some good news: if you’re in this situation, you’ve probably got a really good understanding of what can make CRM successful at your organization.  And in most cases it has very little to do with the software.  Maybe there are things you’d do a little differently if you could go back.  Maybe a shift is an opportunity. 

If you’re thinking about easing that annual renewal burden but are concerned about how to go about it, here are some things to consider.

Configuration

By now you know that using the web based configuration/admin interface is relatively simple.  You spent time up to now understanding how CRM should work, what your custom objects look like, how they interact.  That’s the hard part.  And you’ve probably learned some things along the way.  If you could do it over again, you’d x, y, and z.  As opposed to looking for a tool that will port your existing configuration, spend a few days building out your configuration and fixing your mistakes with a new tool.  It can be quite painless.

Data

You’ll need to convert of course.  But the good news is that you should (hopefully) have all of that data in one place (your CRM solution).  Your initial adoption may have (should have in most cases) involved getting customer data out of multiple systems which is tough.  The great news is that you probably don’t have to do that again.  And there are low cost options for loading it into a less expensive solution.

Adoption

One of the biggest problems with any CRM implementation is low user adoption.  So if you’re facing high renewal costs – that actually good news!  And what would rolling to a lower cost solution look like?  Pretty simple actually, it’s not like client/server days.  Rolling a new web application out is as simple as sending a URL.  And rolling an outlook-integrated client is a pretty simple effort if that’s your preference.  Everyone needs to use email after all.  You’ll also be surprised at how quickly your users will adapt to a new tool – again, the best CRM products are very similar.

Reporting and Integration

You may have also spent quite a bit of time with reporting and integration.  These things are obviously extremely important to successful adoption.  So it might seem like a mountain of work – but think about where you spent a good deal of your time.  Data field identification and mapping.  If you’ve got a good set of requirements, start with that document, add another column to your mapping tables (and make sure you don’t change your requirements).  You can start right with implementation.

If the TCO for that very popular hosted CRM package has got you reeling, why not look at other options?  It’s not going to be any less expensive next year.  Now you know what it takes to make CRM successful.  You can leverage the good work you recently completed to get yourself on a more affordable platform.  Focus on configuration, data, adoption, reporting, and integration when planning your re-platform.  There’s no need to start from square one.  Next year at renewal time, you’ll be in a whole lot better situation.

Of course, it would have been nice to do a complete TCO analysis in the first place.  But that effort probably didn’t make your budget last year. J

Top Web Technology and Marketing trends for 2010 part 1 – Social Strategy and Infrastructure

I was at Barnes and Noble over the weekend and browsing through the business books section could see only 2 types of titles, books on the financial collapse and guides to social media marketing. Both are selling well I hear.

It’s good to see that after some significant doubts, corporate America and small businesses alike are engaging users on social media sites and twitting away. Unfortunately, what we often get is a complete schizophrenic approach. The corporate website is all law and order, control and command broadcasting carefully crafted and designed branding messages and product introductions. Then we have the social media wild west where everything goes, no rules exist and chaos reigns. Living with a split personality is hard and as Nestle recently found out, trying to enforce brand guidelines on Facebook can backfire at you.

As mentioned, there are a bucketload of books that will teach you how to engage and utilize social media, use it to form personal relationships and provide value add rather than just another outlet for PR.

I think a more urgent task we have is addressing the challenges of changing the purpose, structure and utility of public websites to adapt to the new social reality. Frankly, even after 6 years of “web 2.0” most sites are still pretty static brochureware, but the Social revolution is changing that quickly. Even though not every company will want to cancel their website and send users to Facebook instead as Skittles did for a few months, there is much to gain from trying to marry the two worlds.

The goals of the public website have not really changed: create a positive brand experience, attract and convert new customers, retain existing customers, make it easy to do business with you and provide great service anytime, anywhere. Now adding the social layer on top of that elevates it to a whole new level. It also requires a new and maturing technical infrastructure and tools to manage this experience.

Adding the social layer can take many forms but done right it will make every website more relevant, accessible, personal and effective. The tools to manage this new environment are still evolving and maturing but the next releases in all product categories will include a social integration layer.

Before embarking on the next iteration, every website owner must examine and decide: “How social should the company’s site be?”

Here are some guidelines for different models of social integration

  1. Divide and Conquer: create separate destinations for different types of interaction but make them distinct from the main site
  2. Complete control over brand experience: build the brand site into a social community
  3. Co-Promotion: link and syndicate content from site to social media, promote social media activity on site.
  4. Aggregation and context: aggregate relevant social media to site from multiple sources
  5. Integrate and Connect with Social Media: create a seamless experience and leverage identity and existing relationships

Of course, these modes are not mutually exclusive and can be used for different part of the site or in evolving fashion.

For more on these topics, I’m doing a webinar on 3/31/10 on best practices of social integration and will bring some examples. To register go here.

The Promise of the Real Time Web for the Enterprise


Real Time Web is the latest trend to capture the media’s attention over the past few months, and indeed seems to encapsulate well the effect that Twitter and the social networks are having on the flow of information. The ability to get up-to-the-second information about people, news and activities around the world is a foundation for a new wave of startups and services and is being integrated into search and other services.

As many users of the real time web will attest, its constant stream of information can be overwhelming and disjointed but at its best, it allows awareness and insight to emerge as the confluence of information takes a clearer shape.

Can this be useful in the enterprise? (I’ll be careful about using the term “The Real-Time Enterprise” that Gartner coined a few years ago; it means something else).

Companies generate huge amounts of data that rarely sees the light of day. Let’s consider the following scenario – you are an account manager for several key accounts in a particular vertical. What information are you getting? Most likely direct and indirect emails consist of 90% of the information while the rest is verbal, non-documented conversations. But what if you could get real-time updates on the following:

  • Client specific news
  • Client brand related blog posts, discussions, videos and tweets in real time
  • Vertical news
  • Client services updates about milestones reached
  • Customer support alerts about open service tickets and their resolution status
  • Internal discussions and email regarding the client
  • External email communications with the client by different team members
  • Etc..

Not all of these would constitute information that someone will send a specific email on. Being aware of the stream of news, discussions and information can be invaluable for an agile and responsive approach.

Our current document and email centric information systems are not built to provide this level of constant details. Using the new generation of web mashups and aggregation tools are beginning to offer reasonable solutions.

As Jennifer Martinez had recently observed in GigaOm, there is a huge potential for tools that will help sift and provide context for all of these huge streams of data.

What surprises me is that most of the discussion looks at this as a new phenomenon while there is an industry that has been using this method very successfully for a long time. The Bloomberg (and other) terminals provide bite size financial information in a continual stream that can be filtered, sorted and analyzed. It combines company news, industry news, transactions, price changes, etc., in a way that for a novice seems indecipherable but for the experienced broker is a goldmine.

Providing the right tools are put in place, the potential business value seem significant:

  • Accelerating cycles of decision making
  • Pushing all relevant information to you rather than pulling from multiple sources is a great time saver
  • Decreasing the unbearable email load
  • Increasing and broadening awareness to domain knowledge

For more information on the real time web and the type of tools that exist around it, ReadWriteWeb has compiled a great list of top 50 real time web companies and services.