Sunday, January 05, 2014

Stages In The Decision Making Phase Of Your Journey To The Cloud

Warren Buffet once observed that he always buys companies that have such a fundamental advantage over other companies that an idiot could run them because sooner or later an idiot might run the company. He also does not keep a calculator or a computer in his desk, preferring to do most of the calculations in his head, while making decisions for his multibillion dollar investments. In short, he focuses on key business criteria and seeks significant business advantage before looking at the current stock price or other details.

While your information technology investments may not always be multibillion dollar decisions, it helps to take fundamentally correct high level decisions that put you in an advantageous position, before jumping into the details such as feature comparison and technology choice. I have observed that the SAP and SuccessFactors customer organizations that took a three stage approach in their decision making phase and focused on the big picture had a higher rate of success in their cloud projects.

Unfortunately I have also seen organizations that focus on the details first and lose track of the big picture. Such projects almost always get delayed, fail and end in acrimony. I try to politely excuse myself from engaging with such organizations, when I can.

The three stages that the successful companies went through are business architecture review, product review and solution architecture review.

First is the business architecture review stage where a business architect from your vendor or management consulting organization should conduct a workshop to identify your business problems. Most large software vendors have a team that can do this. Your consulting partners might be able to do this as well. SuccessFactors will conduct this workshop for you free of cost if you ask for it.

Second is the product review stage where you see the products that can solve your problems and see a demo of it. All software vendors can do this for you. This is the most common one of all. But if you did not go through stage one and are not sure what your business problem is, then this stage will be counter productive. You may end up buying a product because it looks cool. Not because it solves a problem for you.

Third is the solution architecture review stage. This is the stage where a solution architect from a vendor or a partner organization will discuss your current landscape with you and identify your current landscape and map out your future landscape, one you should aim for a few years into the future. The solution architect will also discuss high level deployment models and integration requirements. Most large software vendors and implementation partners will have the skill to conduct this workshop for you. SuccessFactors will conduct this workshop for you for free if you have already gone through the first two stages. Ask your account executive for it.

To get the best value out of these workshops, please conduct them in the order I listed. Mixing them up may not provide value. Worse, they may be counterproductive.

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