ICM Implementation Project Gotchas
Every growing business feels the need at some point or another to automate their day to day business processes. This means they are implementing software of some kind, be it CRM or ERP or ICM. But how many actually do it the right way? Where do they go wrong? Why does this happen?
I have been involved in ICM implementations for a while now and in my experience, a very small percentage of the overall success actually depends on the software being implemented. It is the treatment of the overall process that is the bigger contributor to the success or failure of a particular implementation.
And no, I am not alluding to any particular ICM package. The issues are common irrespective of the package.
So what are the common gotchas for ICM implementation projects?
Here are a few of the common pitfalls that I have experienced, listed in the order as they crop up in the project cycle. The list is long, so I’ll spread it out over a couple of posts. Here is Part I.
a. Cloudy expectations
A typical ICM project goes much beyond business process automation. It also entails issues like business strategy, employee morale, contractual obligations etc. Often times there are multiple stakeholders including HR, Sales, Finance and Legal to name a few. Each one of these stakeholders has distinct and sometimes conflicting objectives.
It is crucial to agree upon a list of common project goal(s) and priorities. Make it loud n clear, that not all goals would be met in phase 1. Be prepared to articulate a roadmap for subsequent phases, in order to get the buy-ins for the initial implementation.
b. Shoe doesn’t fit?
There are a lot of vendors in the market for ICM software – Callidus, Xactly, Merced etc. Accept and broadcast the fact that no off-the-shelf package can solve 100% of your problems. Pick a vendor that can handle majority of the requirements out-of-the-box. Don’t wast time trying to fit every single exception into your RFP and vendor evaluation. Treat exceptions as, well, exceptions!
Look at what your industry peers are doing. I like the analysis provided here by Julien Dionne on industry sectors and their choice of ICM solutions.
But again, as I said before, doing it right, is more important than choosing the right package. So after the decision has been made, focus all the effort on the actual implementation.
c. Rigid Business Processes
If you have chaotic processes, implementing an ICM package may quite well end up in automated chaotic processes. The message here is to examine the business processes, streamline them or even redefine them if needed and better leverage the new software.
Adapting the business processes to the new system would increase the overall productivity and offer the biggest bang for the buck.
It is sometimes difficult to get all stakeholders to be flexible. Getting an industry expert to work closely with admins and IT to provide recommendations might be a way to obtain signoffs on new processes.
d. Devil is in the Data
Garbage in garbage out! And if it comes from multiple sources, it is gargantuan garbage.
Data Reconciliation is especially crucial in a Compensation system in pretty much all the areas since it a system of records for commission payments. There is no room for errors. Spend enough time to analyze each and every data source.
Consider a scenario where order information is coming from a channel partner’s order system. One can’t really control the quality of data coming from various partners. Take a count of various such data sources and put a plan in place to deal with each one of them. If you cut corners now, be ready to deal with testing problems later.
So IN SUMMARY, if you take care of setting realistic project objectives, realigning processes and analyzing the data feeds, your project should have a solid foundation.
The road ahead has some more challenges, so stay tuned for my next post.