Setting up ERP and other technology-enabled change programmes for success

change programme, digital transformation
© Pop Nukoonrat

Bryan Oak, Chief Operating Officer of Searchlight Consulting, highlights the importance of preparation and alignment when planning a successful ERP-based, or any technology-enabled change programme

Across the UK Public Sector, organisations are being tasked with digitalising services, delivering more through digital channels, and modernising back-office applications and technology. Working against the growing macro-economic and societal changes that are driving this need, organisations and departments are struggling with reduced funding, and a growing mountain of legacy debt in systems that were implemented perhaps 10-15 years ago and have suffered from under investment.

While wrapping digital services around legacy applications and technologies is an option, bolting on new citizen facing interfaces or trying to overlay paperless, automated processes will lead to inefficiencies in end-to-end processes. Integration is complex and underlying legacy core business applications like ERP, Finance, HR, Payroll and CRM are usually not able to provide the flexibility needed to truly enable new ways of working.

Many application and technology vendors are actively promoting new, cloud-based applications that are at best completely rearchitected and redeveloped products, or at worst just a re-platforming of existing products on to modern infrastructure, with very little new capability. In some cases, getting clients to switch to these new products has led vendors to try and create a “burning platform” by the ending of standard support arrangements for older legacy, predominantly on-premise versions.

Investing in technology-enabled change programmes

The confluence of drivers to digitally transform and modernise, along with product strategies of legacy platform vendors means that throughout the Public Sector, organisations are planning to or already actively investing heavily in technology-enabled change programmes. Programmes that they hope will deliver enhanced services and can be delivered within ever demanding budget constraints.

Unfortunately, past experiences with programmes to implement such changes have not always been good. Even recent surveys suggest that less than 30% of technology-enabled change and digital transformation programmes succeed in completely delivering their objectives, with most failing to meet their expected timelines and budgets.

These projects and programmes are complex because they are multi-faceted, comprising technology, information, processes, and people. While the technical solution can be complex, it’s often not “novel” and the outcome should be more certain than it often is.  Experience shows that the human “factor” is more significant to overall success than data and technology challenges.

Whenever somebody cites that “people” are the key to success or failure, it’s easy to jump to end-user/organisation change management and adoption as the “critical” people factor.  In our experience, the people dimension starts with the Senior Leadership Team even before the programme has started. Whether they mean to or not, Executive teams have the ability to derail change programmes through their actions/inactions, the decisions that they make, their behaviours and ability to perform as a team.

While the pressure to change is being piled on, it’s important not to rush into a commitment to move away from current technology without proper preparation and agreement of what the organisation is trying to achieve. A poorly articulated purpose and poorly planned initiative will cost money, time and impact your organisation’s efficiency, and ultimately not move the dial in terms of service effectiveness, or cost management.

As an independent consultancy and implementation partner, at Searchlight Consulting we recognise that as organisations evolve, they outgrow their ways of working and operating platforms – their processes, organisation and the technology which supports them. And, while business applications and technology are becoming increasingly pervasive, these technologies must enable improvement and not hinder strategic progress.

Having worked across a diverse range of industries (commercial and public sector) to help our clients build business capabilities and leverage technology to drive business improvement and deliver tangible business outcomes, we have identified one of the main keys to digital and technology-enabled change success – Alignment.

Executive alignment, good governance and a clear decision making framework ensures transformation programmes are shaped, prepared and remain on track to deliver maximum level of benefit at the most appropriate pace.

Choosing the right solution

So, before you reach for your Back Office Software, Software Design and Implementation Services, G-Cloud 12, DOS 5 or general tendering handbooks to buy a solution or a product, take time to set things up successfully, anticipate the challenges that lie ahead and choose the right path to overcome them:

  1. Set the right context, vision, and objectives for your programme
  2. Review your operating model and examine the capabilities required to become a truly citizen/employee-centric business
  3. Understand the root causes of problems within today’s processes; the opportunities to improve and deliver strategic organisational objectives, before you change or automate
  4. Align all stakeholders behind the programme and empower them to make end-to-end decisions based on a framework of governance and trust
  5. Understand why your personal leadership is imperative to successful, strategic business transformation

We believe that successful transformation programmes must establish a strong foundation and build a guiding coalition that spans the organisation, get everyone aligned, and into a state of mutual trust; all parties, management, staff, vendors, and implementation partners must understand and act on delivering their obligations to ensure success.

Searchlight is in a privileged position to support the UK’s Public Sector in this quest.  We have been named on three Crown Commercial Service (CCS) frameworks focused on helping central, local government and other public sector buyers with their digital, cloud and back-office transformation programmes – RM6193 Software Design & Implementation Services (SDIS), G-Cloud 12 for Cloud Support Services and DOS 5.

With a track record of delivering successful transformation and improvement programmes enabled by digital, enterprise and cloud-based business applications, Searchlight can advise, manage or support the technology-enabled journeys of local and central government, as well as other ‘public’ organisations and arm’s length bodies; helping these organisations to evolve, transform and automate their front-line services and back-office processes, supporting the drive to provide improved service and support to the UK and its citizens.

Please note: This is a commercial profile

© 2019. This work is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND.

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