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I love to cook. Although I had not learned it officially or practically, I took up my cooking skills by reading, exploring and imitating others. One principle I have learned rather early from an Italian lady is what the French call “mise-en-place“. I read this word just recently, although I have known this principle for a long time and I think it is a perfect principle for your upcoming SuccessFactors implementation project.

The gist of mise-en-place is that before cooking begins, all ingredients are prepared (cleaned, cut, peeled, grated, measured, etc.) and equipment (pots, pans, spoons, knives, etc.) is set out. Preparation enables chefs to identify missing ingredients or equipment early, start elaborate preparations at the appropriate time, so they don’t delay the meal. It also requires that they group ingredients and equipment that will be used together, so preparations are done more efficiently and less chaotic.

An HR vision or a list of functional system requirements is not enough to start a SuccessFactors implementation project. A vision is just your dinner menu and even a list of functional requirements rather that it is a shopping list for your dinner. This is not sufficient. Imagine what happens if you have invited friends for dinner, and you notice 2 hours before you are supposed to start cooking: “O, no, I have to marinate the chicken overnight!” or “Nobody told me that I need that special carving tool!”

Functionally, the mis-en-place principle tells you before you start cooking that all your ingredients should be prepared and all your tools should be set out. For a SuccessFactors project, this exceeds the normal preparation activities of project management (project timeline, resource plan, communication plan and so on). It means that you should have prepared:

  • HR Value Drivers and Design Principles
  • HR Operating Model (if you plan to change it).
  • Target system architecture and interface design (High Level).
  • HR Process flows and user roles.
  • List of business requirements (as an outcome of the process and role discussion).
  • Key decisions (What have you already decided and what still needs to be decided).
  • Change impact analysis and how to deal with it (Change Concept).

It is simple like that: You need to make up your mind before you start with the shopping list (your functional requirements): How many people do you have for dinner? Is it dinner with business partners, friends or rather romantic? What is your budget, how many courses are you preparing, and what are the expectations of your guests? What do you want to achieve?

This will help you to define the shopping list so as to get started with your SuccessFactors implementation project. You plan and iteratively execute the detailed activities. You mix the ingredients (configure the system) and adjust your actions after you have tested the meal from time to time. It is more like saying “I need more salt here” or “the pasta is not ready yet, I will give it another 2 minutes.”

Do I follow the mis-en-place principle whenever I cook? Yes, although it is not mandatory for simple dishes (I love pasta!), it still helps me a lot to cook with less stress. Even a simple pasta can be overcooked when the tomato sauce is not ready. And it definitely helps a lot for the next dinner with friends – in order to keep them as friends.

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