Many medium-sized organizations encounter great difficulty in
scaling up their operations once their personnel or revenue has
grown to a certain size. The reason for this difficulty is often
because they have outgrown their current systems and processes.
Uncoordinated business processes, a lack of timely, trustworthy
information, inadequate accounting systems, the need for frequent
operational reconciliations of information and staff burnout: These
are all signs that legacy information systems are no longer able to
support an organization's current operations, let alone further
Once you've identified you have a problem, it can be
difficult to determine how to proceed—and for good reason.
Selecting and implementing the right enterprise software product is
time-consuming and fraught with business risk. The wrong choice or
a failed implementation can degrade business performance.
Compounding the challenge is that even when mid-sized
organizations realize they need to replace or upgrade their legacy
systems, they typically lack the internal technology resources to
develop strategic business system plans, navigate the increasingly
complex array of options in the marketplace and deal with software
vendors promising the moon.
A couple of examples illustrate the challenge:
Example 1: An organization providing rapidly
growing funding for First Nations educational programs found it was
becoming increasingly difficult to meet its extensive and complex
reporting obligations to numerous funders and stakeholders. The
organization had to manage more and more information outside its
legacy accounting system, and staff were overwhelmed with the
amount of re-work and manual reconciliation of financial data. The
executive director realized they needed to replace their legacy
accounting software with a more robust system. However, the
organization had only one in-house technology resource: a network
administrator who did not have the skills and experience to guide
the selection of a core corporate system.
Example 2: A Crown corporation managing the
deployment of a provincial electronic health records strategy, with
a rapidly growing budget and project portfolio, as well as an
upcoming merger that would exponentially increase the number of
transactions to be handled, needed a more robust Enterprise Risk
Planning (ERP)-type system. In addition, they needed to make a
decision quickly to meet year-end deadlines. Executives realized
the organization did not have the capacity to execute the selection
process with internal resources in the time available.
If your business is in a situation similar to the examples
above, you should consider the approach these organizations
followed. They brought in an outside consultant who was objective,
software vendor–independent and had a proven software
selection and implementation methodology.
Depending on the expertise and availability of your internal
resources, you can engage the consultant to advise you on your
process; help define requirements; conduct the software selection
process; manage the implementation of a new system; or all or some
combination of these. In the examples above, one of the
organizations engaged a consultant to carry out a full software
selection and implementation effort, while the other engaged the
consultant only to conduct the software selection process. In both
cases, the key to success was a formal process to define and
prioritize requirements to guide market research and evaluate
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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