You have many software vendors that you are working with to support your company’s business processes, and you are constantly asking those
vendors for their roadmap of new functionality. Fair question certainly, and a good practice to stay on top of what new functionality is coming in the solutions you already own. But does your company have a business solution roadmap? New functionality is great, but meeting your company’s strategic goals is what you need to stay focused on.
We all know that a business software solution is a tool to support a business process which makes a company more efficient and profitable. But in today’s ever-changing and evolving business climate, how do you ensure the business software solutions are keeping ahead of (notice I didn’t say keeping up with) what your company needs, to continue to be a front-runner in your industry?
For example, in industrial manufacturing we are seeing major changes with the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 digitizing information from products to their manufacturers for better service and optimization of products. Additionally, we are seeing a need for more and more data in making decisions leading to the need to manage big data and turning that data into actionable information that can be accessed fast, in real time. You have all of these evolutionary changes going on in your industry, and if you don’t have a business solution roadmap, you will always be behind the curve catching up to your competition.
How do you build your business solution roadmap? First off, this is not a software evaluation exercise; this is a business process analysis exercise. You start with your company’s vision and strategic goals for the next 3-5 years. Then you meet with each department within your company discussing how the strategic goals over the next 3-5 years will impact their departments. Based on this information, you develop your new business processes, which are probably modifications to the existing ones you have currently. But in some cases you may create a completely new business process. One word of warning do not jump to the software solutions at this point. If you do, you will find yourself trying to make the business process fit the software solution rather than developing the new business process that will meet your companies strategic goals.
This analysis and developing the new business processes isn’t as easy as it sounds, because it is difficult in many cases to have departments picture a new way of doing business to support a strategic direction. Don’t expect that this will happen in a couple of meetings. The process will evolve as they understand the strategic direction and warm up to the changes required to fulfill the strategic goal. Once you have developed the new business processes to support the strategic goals and have the approval of the various departments and of course your board, you can turn to the business software solutions (the tools) to support the new processes.
The next step is to bring in your main business software solution partner to put on a road mapping workshop. You will need a partner to support the
workshop that has the in-depth knowledge of your industry and can educate you on the business solutions across your entire company, not just in one specific area or department. If you don’t have a partner like this, I suggest you find one, because with the fast pace of evolving software solutions, you will definitely need a partner that understands your industry end to end and is current on what can be done now and in the future.
During the workshop, you should go through each new business process with the business owners, sharing their vision of the future of their department to meet the company’s strategic goals. Your business software solution partner should be presenting possible solutions to meet the requirements of the new business processes. Coming out of this workshop, you should then have a defined list of proposed business software solutions that will be the tools to support the company in meeting their strategic goals moving forward.
The final step is to align and prioritize the business software solutions based on the company’s urgency and available resources using this information to build your company’s Business Solution Roadmap.
Some of the advantages of having a Business Solution Roadmap are:
- Lower costs due to not having to buy a business solution on a accelerated time line for a required solution that you just found out about
- Higher user acceptance and improved operational planning since the user community and the business has early visibility to an
approaching business process change, minimizing the operational impact or potential disruption
- Improved financial planning for business solutions, giving you the ability to spread out expenditures and aligning them to your business environment
- Enhance IT planning to minimize firefighting and ensure that the infrastructure and software solutions are deployed smoothly, in the proper sequence, and at the lowest possible cost
There are companies that I know which have been religious about building their Business Solution Roadmaps, and they are seeing success and have a controlled process of rolling out new solutions to support the strategic goals of their companies. It is critical that you also have a Business Solution Roadmap if you don’t already have one. Additionally, if you have a roadmap, make sure it is up to date. With the accelerated technology improvements you should be reviewing your roadmap every 2-3 yrs.
Good luck in building and deploying your Business Solution Roadmaps!
Jay Krueger – Solution Manager
Industrial Machinery & Components
As a Solution Manager for SAP, Jay’s main focus is to align SAP solutions with today’s business needs. Jay’s experience includes over 35 years of designing, developing and implementing business processes and systems for companies in addition to extensive experience with SAP ERP and SAP Cloud solutions. His experience with business processes and SAP gives Jay a unique perspective of the value SAP can bring to a company.