In his keynote at Inforum 2019, Infor CEO Kevin Samuelson reconfirmed the company’s commitment to delivering on-time and on-budget projects. Go-lives should not be the destination but the starting line where business problems get solved and values get created. How are Infor and its partners going to achieve that?
Most enterprises are well aware of the problems brought about by legacy systems. They are built upon outdated technologies that may no longer be supported, are hard to scale or integrate with other systems, and cost a fortune to maintain. Then why do those dinosaurs still exist today?
Despite all of the innovations that occur in enterprise software lately, replacing a mission-critical system is still a high-risk proposition. The implementation project can be delayed. The costs can exceed the projected budget. The proposed values – more revenue growth, more margins – may never be fully realised.
That is the challenge that Infor has been tackling head-on.
How Infor can deliver on-time and on-budget projects
Project delivery agility
It's time for project delivery agility, according to Rod Johnson, Infor's General Manager, Americas. This requires a new mindset – moving away from cumbersome one-off implementation projects and towards standard deployments.
This explains Infor's recent strategic partnership with the business process management firm Signavio. Signavio’s so-called A.I.-powered process mining is expected to deliver faster implementations through automation.
According to Cormac Watters, Infor’s head of international markets, an agile approach allows for multiple go-lives and aims to have the first working prototype ready within three months. He added: “It’s all about getting people to rethink the concept of going live and to stop fearing it.”
Another best practice of delivery agility is to never change the go-live date. Instead, the scope of work should be altered. When the project is “descoped,” the company can get some value within the projected period of time. Changes can be implemented in later iterations of the project.
It’s not hard to see why McKinsey believes an agile delivery approach can “greatly mitigate the risks and challenges that plague typical ERP implementations in a number of ways.” In one study, McKinsey finds agile companies have 70% chance of being “in the top quartile for organisational health.”
Executives, however, are advised to avoid the false belief that “being agile” means “no planning.” Delivery agility actually replaces “long, opaque project phases with two- to three-week sprints so that managers can track outcomes, progress, and challenges.”
The industry-focused approach has always been in Infor’s DNA since day 1. Infor’s products are designed with in-depth insights about each industry at a highly granular level. A famous example is when the team at Infor created one of their very first products for a dairy company.
It may sound simple, but the project actually had a very unique and challenging set of requirements. Unlike other industries, the raw material prices in the dairy industry are determined not by volume but by the fat content. Subsequently, dairy companies don’t even know their cost of goods until after the products are shipped. Shelf life, which can vary greatly from one dairy product to another, is another critically important factor in the industry.
All of those specific requirements were built into the software so it can be implemented, and the customer can get values much more quickly.
Infor takes its “Cloud First” strategy very seriously. US$4 billion has been invested in cloud R&D in order to make costly and time-consuming software customisation a thing of the past.
Taking all these points into consideration, setting a new standard in enterprise software implementation is the ultimate goal Infor is aiming to achieve - go-live in less than six months, less disruption to day-to-day operations, and better business outcomes.
For Infor CEO Kevin Samuelson, it may already be a reality. In his keynote, Kevin shared the story of PSEB. The enterprise came about in 2018 from the merger of two American clothing retail chains: Eddie Bauer and Pac Sun. The new company also decided to move its financial platforms to the cloud.
The project started in the summer of 2018 and, despite all complicating nuances that come with a merger, went live in the first quarter of 2019. With the new platform, the finance department of the new company is now able to function with just half the financial staff they had when they were operating two separate legacy systems.