Greetings all.  Short topic this week but one that is near and dear to my heart.  For those of you who are familiar with my background, you know that I have worked in the software and IT services industry for several years, most recently in the cloud computing and CRM space.

One of the things that I constantly stress with my customers and prospects is the importance of defining business processes and aligning them to a corporate strategy before selecting a technology solution.  Too many organizations make the mistake of picking the tool before they have any idea what they will use it for.  This is especially true for front-office type applications like customer relationship management.

The concept of “CRM” has been around for decades, with software companies capitalizing on the idea of enterprise CRM in the 90’s and 00’s.  Organizations know that they need to bridge the gap between sales and marketing, increase sales productivity, decrease support costs, and increase customer satisfaction.  In some cases, they believe that implementing a CRM solution will magically provide all of these things for them.  More often than not, this approach to front-office application deployment results in lots of wasted time and money.

In today’s world, I often run across organizations who are on their second, third, fourth, or even fifth iteration of a CRM application.  Past failures can often be attributed to poorly designed business process that do not align with corporate strategies.  From a CRM perspective, defining the customer life cycle and touch points in an organization is far more important in the early stages of a project than picking a tool to manage customer data.

At Concord, we believe in a concept we refer to internally as “integrate the enterprise”.  The word integrate, in this case, doesn’t exclusively relate to integrating technology platforms.  It’s more about bringing together people, process, and technology to work in a cohesive matter to achieve the strategic vision for the organization.  By focusing on the people, the process, and the technology, organizations will realize positive return on IT investments which will have a significant influence on growing their business.

Chris Noe

chris.noe@concordusa.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisnoe

Concord Case Study

August 3, 2010

DOMAIN INVENTORY CASE STUDY

…from anecdotal to fact based decision making

WHO BOUGHT DOMAIN INVENTORY SOLUTION?

Client is a Fortune 50 corporation with a systems topology that is large and complex; a byproduct of multiple mergers and acquisitions. Concord was selected to strategically implement a Domain Inventory solution for the executive team. The project was launched within a division of the organization. This division is:

• Comprised of six business units
• Has a $250MM annual budget
• Employs 950 IT employees
• Encompasses 117 mission critical systems
• Is spread over nine key geographic locations nationwide

The executive sponsor of our solution had two goals:
• Demonstrate clarity with respect to an overall systems landscape
• Provide business and IT leadership with a transparent view of systems complexity

WHY DID THEY BUY IT?

Faced with a rapidly expanding and changing systems environment the organization needed to achieve a clear understanding of the current state prior to an evaluation around a future state. This was increasingly difficult because there was not a comprehensive view of the overall systems architecture.

Much of the knowledge existed “tribally” – either in disconnected file stores and SharePoints or was undocumented. It would be necessary to tap this knowledge in order to create an overall depiction of the systems environment. In addition to the lack of clarity around the current state the executive was also faced with:

• Multiple mergers and acquisitions that increased systems complexity.
• A need to streamline processes and technology.
• Regulatory and compliance pressures.
Budget pressures.
• A need to demonstrate improved IT value.

In their current state the organization was forced to make decisions based on anecdotal information and had no way of measuring
or proving IT return on investment.

It was apparent a clear understanding of the current systems state was needed. The Domain Inventory consulting solution would allow the organization to capture organizations, actors, capabilities, systems, connections, technology, standards and skills.

This capture of knowledge would help the organization establish a clear current state of its systems environment. Once established, it would be possible to determine the systems road map to focus on consolidation, simplification and failure prevention.

After a brief pilot program focused intently on a single business unit, the value of the Domain Inventory approach was evident. This led to a follow on engagement where the approach would be applied across the entire organization.

HOW DOES IT HELP?

System Consolidation and Redundancy Elimination
The approach and the associated delivery help to identify systems that offer similar features and capabilities. Once these systems are identified they can be studied further to see if they can be consolidated. The inventory also offers inputs to the consolidation process by helping identify the system that fits better with the overall organization technology stack and the organization skill set.


Critical Point of Failure Analysis and Disaster Planning

It is now easier for the organization to see which systems are highly connected, making them critical points of failure. Another area in which the Domain Inventory helps is its ability to identify systems that are outdated and should be decommissioned. Often these systems are active only because they offer certain features that have not yet been migrated to newer technologies. The solution helps identify these systems and hence can also highlight those systems that need to be upgraded.

Budgetary Planning
System consolidation and critical system analysis leads to a process of budgetary allocation that is fact based and transparent. Redundant platforms can be eliminated and additional funds can be allocated to systems that are critical. In addition to systems consolidation, the process helps identify connections that can be grouped together because of their similarity with each other. This helps identify the necessity of Application Integration tools or service buses that can help not only simplify the systems architecture but also eliminate cost.

WHAT HAVE THEY LEARNED?

The Domain Inventory approach has given the organization a single repository for systems architecture. This has made understanding systems easier and much more transparent. Systems domain knowledge is no longer under the purview of a few, but is available to all. Domain experts see the benefits of contributing to the Domain Inventory because it helps them understand the systems that interact with their own – the proverbial “other side of the fence”.

The Domain Inventory learnings are not limited to system understanding. They also play a large part in helping identify missing and undocumented connections and technologies. Through the process of consultative domain inventory capture, we have helped identify multiple “new” undocumented connections that may previously have gone unnoticed.

HOW HAS THE SOLUTION CHANGED THE CLIENT?

The Client is now better suited to move forward and plan a road map based on current system state. Rather than base a roadmap on anecdotal evidence and the technology-du-jour the systems, planners and executives can evaluate their current state to arrive at the appropriate next steps for each of their systems.