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This could well be the title to the most familiar plot in the software industry, loosely adapted from the bestselling novel “Business Process Management”, with the Business as the lead protagonists and IT in the key supporting role. The storyline is set amidst new implementations, upgrades and consolidation scenarios.

The narrative starts with the CIO setting the project team (Business and IT) with the task of upgradingto the latest ERP software with the overarching goal of saving implementation costs and achieving a faster time to market. The upgrade is necessary to consolidateand standardize all processes across departments and geographies within the organization. 

The caveat being: self-budget the project by supply-chain savings and leverage out-of-the-box software as much as possible.

Since the processes are cross-departmental and across geographies, the Business finds it a challenge to get a common view of what the Business Process is; Equipped with clumsy and complex tools they set about their task to describe all aspects of the business processes. Such as,

  • Objective and Purpose
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Technology and Media
  • Performance and KPI’s
  • Governance and Lifecycle

       

The exercise not only proves to be time-intensivebut produces inaccurate and duplicate content. After several interviews and workshops, the business ends up with a number of processes that are captured and documented a number of times without any consistency or re-use. Besides this, the Business finds it is a major challenge to maintain, synchronize and govern content across the plethora of tools used by analysts.

 

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Since the project is already behind schedule, the IT team decides to proceed anyway with incomplete requirements (hoping at some point of time, it can “catch up”) and begins to capture aspects such as,

  • Landscape and systems
  • Technology and Components
  • Reports and Interfaces
  • Transactions and Objects
  • Customizations and Configurations 

 

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The IT team approaching this from a transactional perspective starts to pit features in current and newer software, identifying gaps, creating customizations and reports that were previously unavailable – ultimately ends up ignoring the aspect of understanding the true business process.

Faced with an impending failure, the CIO calls for reality check of the Project. Result: The Project is way over budget and having a delayed/uncertain go-live.

Familar outcome? Let us take a step back and see what we can learn from our story, 

–  The bad: Whenever there is exchange of communication between Business and IT or vice-versa, meanings and messages are fraught to be lost in translation.

+ The good:While it is impossible to prevent such a phenomenon, what you can control is the degree.

Having said that, for too long vendors wrote business management software, scripted to please buying centers without acknowledging the uniqueness of Business and IT and almost often ignored the most important downstream actor in the value chain – the end-user of the software.

What we need now –  is to fundamentally re-think and re-write the entire continuum of the plot, understand all the actors and interpreters involved and finally realize that to get the act right you need to start with writing a good script or in our context a good business script.

Let’s start by asking the question: how would you write your business script differently?                         

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