ALM automation and integration has gained momentum over the past five years as a path to solving IT problems and pain points, according to many analysts. So out of the gate, tight integration with other ALM tools should be high on the list when making a change control selection. Shifts in ALM tools and strategy – including change control – must be balanced against cost and potential risk. In this series, I will hope to help you move through three crucial phases that will help you balance the costs and risks with potential longer term benefits.
- Gain a clear view of the IT problems and pain points to solve (and their underlying causes)
- Concise and complete set of requirements along the expected ROI for each
- Assess a solution’s ability to deliver each requirement flexibly enough to not only solve currents problems but also meet anticipated future needs
As I mentioned in my recent blog post, deciding on change control tools for today’s large, complex SAP infrastructures takes more than a checklist. Established processes and user interfaces may not be easily changed. Well-accepted and stable system interactions often cannot be “swapped out” without adding many consulting hours to implementation costs, increasing the cost of maintenance or delaying key business-side changes. These need to be taken into consideration too.
Infrastructure technologies bear heavily on competitive advantage. To “do more with less” you must evaluate more than up-front costs. Factors like cost and time to implement, difficulty to maintain or reconfigure, and limitations in use, all affect a tool’s bottom-line ROI.
Gaining a clear view of what needs to be solved
So first, step back to take an inclusive look at the “bigger picture,” then zoom in to various pain points and identify the larger systemic issues causing them. That will clarify your real-world requirements.
The “bigger picture” refers to business challenges, market trends, competitive pressures, outside influences like regulatory and technical environments, geographical operating regions and mandates, challenges surfacing in your spheres of business, and the like. The right change control strategy will deliver clean audits, higher productivity, faster response to business requests, and other achievable – and measurable – benefits.
Some typical “bigger picture” concerns:
- Business environment: Stable or changing rapidly? If rapid, can you plan a systematic business evolution? If subject to sudden, unpredictable change, as with consumer digital and electronic devices, networked “cloud” services, or the entertainment vertical, flexibility is vital. Have your processes been nimble enough?
- Regulatory environment: Are you tightly regulated, as with finance or pharmaceuticals? Have you latitude to change business or technical processes on the fly? If multiple markets, what are the most stringent mandates? The answers will reveal the types and degree of policy enforcement your change control solution must provide.
- Your organization’s reach: Do you operate across multiple regions? Must you adjust to different regulatory requirements, currency exchanges, parallel team communications across time zones, and similar issues?
- Data handling needs: Must you support a dense flow of standardized transactions, as in many financial enterprises, or maintain extremely flexible processes, as with quickly mutating military situations?
- Seasonal requirements: Do your business volumes increase during specific times of the year? Do you need to accommodate your financial periods or restrict change during those times?
All these factors set the “bigger picture”. Without it, you simply remain reactive to the pains of the moment, limiting your ability to grow and compete.
In my next post, I’ll consider the change control requirements you’ll set. Stay tuned.