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Thinking There: Who We Are

With enterprise systems, as with any major business initiative, success begins with a clear conception of the destination and a wholehearted commitment to getting there. This process of definition and commitment can be termed “thinking there.” It is an ongoing and iterative process of addressing some fundamental questions: Who are we as a company today – operationally, organizationally, technologically, culturally? What is our desired or “opportunity” state, driven by our strategy for distinguishing ourselves in the marketplace? Meanwhile, where does our marketplace, and especially the actions of our competitors, demand that we go? What is our capacity for changing? How can we boost that capacity if it’s not yet sufficient to get us to the destination? What specific business outcomes constitute the destination? How can we measure progress toward them?

Implementing Enterprise Systems

Implementing Enterprise Systems

“Thinking there” involves getting crisp answers to all these questions. In most companies, the answers are, with a fair degree of accuracy, already known, although they may not be well articulated or often publicly discussed. But to form the foundation for an ES initiative, they must be articulated and discussed. Why? Because with a business initiative as expansive and expensive as an ES, the last thing you want to do is attempt the impossible. And the next-to-last thing you want to do is leave potential business benefits on the table. To avoid both pitfalls, you’ve got to begin by “thinking there” clearly.

Enterprise systems are a type of business capability, which can be employed in a variety of circumstances and for a variety of purposes. But the heart of the business capability of ES is improving operational performance and increasing business coordination through process consistency and information sharing. An ES can be sensibly and successfully deployed as:

The “one system” for an integrated company.

The means of integrating selected processes, often associated with corporate functions such as finance and human resources.

The “common core” of systems for a company that seeks coordination across many processes while allowing local variations in how they’re performed.

The means of bringing selected processes in selected locations up to speed.

In other words, the approaches that work range from being global to being highly selective. And the number of workable approaches continues to grow – thanks to both experience and technological advance.

Many companies embark on ES initiatives with the intent of establishing common processes and information across all business units. What distinguishes the implementation successes from the failures is the seriousness of that intent. At project launch, the winners and losers say exactly the same things about the benefits of consistency, coordination and communication. But for some it’s just a momentary (though often convincing) commitment to a theoretical idea. For others, it’s the immediate mission of the corporation – clearly reflected in the day-to-day executive agenda and the executive compensation plan. Distinguishing between these two situations is not difficult for someone asking the right questions and looking for the right signs.

Thinking There: Business Outcomes

In the old days, information systems project management was about delivering “working software and trained users” at a cost within shouting distance of the original budget. Today, the business potential of technology-driven change is so great that the difference between “working software” and real business success can be the difference between business-as-usual and rearranging your competitive landscape. Successful companies can redefine market channel relationships, redefine customer relationships, or earn ROIs exceeding 100 percent. ES project management is not an IT challenge, but a business challenge – and the key to winning big is outcomes-based management.

Comprehensive outcomes-based management involves much more than a business case and benefit targets. Outcomes-based management is about identifying the key operational imperatives required to propel the overall business strategy, and driving these imperatives into the fabric of the work. Outcomes-based management forges the linkages from operational work to strategy and shareholder value.

In theory, this approach sounds simple. In practice, it requires diligence and sophistication. Why? Because business strategies are unique, and the key operational imperatives will be drawn from all disciplines: marketing, product and service development, channel management, operations, logistics, customer service, finance, etc. Although there are clear best-practices for outcomes-based management, there can be no cookbook methodology because ES is about competing through business operations. Our outcomes are what differentiate our business. Our outcomes allow our ES implementation to differ from everyone else’s.

Business outcomes are the definition of success: the result obtained, not the process for obtaining it. For example, reducing the average order processing cycle from 3 days to 5 minutes is a significant business success, but the pros and cons of alternate approaches to achieving this performance will always be legitimate subjects of debate. But with a clear initial definition of success and the determination to achieve it, these debates reach closure quickly and people commit to action. Throughout the research, we were struck by how clearly and crisply best-practice companies articulated their required business outcomes.

Business outcomes must be tangible and operationally specific, must have business significance and map to business value, and must be unambiguous and measurable. “Reducing order processing time from 3 days to 5 minutes” is a business outcome; “Implement a standard order processing system” is a rather vague goal. “Close the books in 2 days” is an outcome; “Improve the timeliness of financial reporting” is a vague goal.

Outcomes-based approaches simplify and accelerate ES projects and increase their chances of business success. ES projects are large and complex by nature. Project-plan tasks frequently number in the thousands. Project rosters of 30-50 full-time professionals are considered small, and 100+ are not atypical. Most significantly, business people are being asked to accomplish their work activities in new, different ways. Alignment is absolutely essential, and business outcomes are the agency for aligning activities and decisions of everyone involved in or affected by ES implementation. If linked appropriately across levels (from the shop-floor to the boardroom), the business outcomes can be a means to demolish cross-functional barriers. Projects accelerate because teams don’t dally in endless debate or pursue private agendas. The outcomes provide the platform for results and project accountability.

Business outcomes are developed through a facilitated conversation among senior managers. The conversation takes the understanding of “who we are” and the outline of a realistically ambitious “desired state,” and then makes the desired state tangible. What specifically distinguishes it from the present state of the business? What would it be like – in terms of operational performance and business capability – to have reached the desired state? What combination of performance levels and business changes constitute the desired state? These are the outcomes. The process of developing them is the beginning of the business alignment, change management, and communications campaign.

Getting There: Structuring ES Projects

Large ES projects can take on lives of their own. Preventing this, and enforcing focus on business objectives, requires explicit project structure, which in turn promotes the appropriate decisions and behaviors. Clear and well-communicated project structure is essential to ensure that both the project teams and their customer constituencies maintain clarity for the duration of the endeavor. An ES project’s structure – its overall design, activities and resource plans, timetable, and governance structure – is the most direct and detailed communication of serious intent that an organization can deliver. Structuring a large ES project involves the following activities.

Determine project phasing and timing. The basic options for implementation approach are horizontal and vertical. In a horizontal approach, a company implements one process (e.g., financials) across the entire enterprise (multiple organizations), before implementing subsequent processes (e.g., fulfillment). In a vertical approach, a company implements multiple processes (e.g., manufacturing, fulfillment, procurement, financials, etc.) at one operating unit, and progresses across the enterprise unit-by-unit. Within each approach there are variations in phasing: What can be done in parallel, what must be done sequentially, and what can be done in overlapping fashion? In a horizontal implementation, can many business units implement at once? In a vertical implementation, how many processes can “go live” together? What phasing allows us to gain experience fastest and transfer it across units most effectively?

Establish project team organization. An outcomes-oriented project explicitly recognizes that process-oriented corporate structures are inherently matrices. Process owners are responsible for the design and performance of processes wherever they are executed. Business owners, like divisional and location heads, are responsible for the work of organizational units. They have P&L responsibility, hence the most direct vested interest in realizing business outcomes. They and their people use the ES, ongoing education and training is in their budgets, and they have the ability to motivate people to change.

Establish technology and operating architecture. In the early 1990s, establishing an effective technology environment for the project itself required a depth and quantity of expertise in new platforms, networks and tools (e.g., UNIX, TCP/IP, Windows, SCCS, etc.) that was beyond most companies’ capabilities. Though setting up a project environment is still a major issue, the good news is that tools and practices have improved dramatically, and promise to continue improving. The best-practices approach to ES technology architecture is to analyze not only installation requirements, but also the anticipated services and service levels in the new technological environment. Since accelerated project management methods allow companies to configure pilot environments in less than a year, the time horizons to develop the enterprise’s long-term technological operating plan have shrunk dramatically.

Establish project governance. Executive management must have passion and create ownership for the business success of the project. Process and business ownership of the business outcomes must be real, not just a tacit steering committee blessing. For this reason, there must be a solid line relationship between the project team and the process and business owners. Ensuring that the relationships between the business and the project stay vibrant and powerful is the primary role and responsibility of the executive management board as well as the project leader. Leadership behavior is the norm, regardless of the box one sits in.

Develop the resource plan. Resourcing an ES project presents a basic choice. The least organizationally painful (but probably most expensive) approach is to hire a systems integrator to turnkey the effort. This approach leads to a focus on installing the software rather than transforming business operations, but most such projects do get done and generate positive ROI. The outcomes-based approach takes the opposite course. Systems integrators and consultants may be extensively employed, but the project cannot be turned over to someone else. Outcomes-based management is about trying to transform the enterprise. Because the business outcomes are so significant, the company makes the choice to put many of its best business and IT people on the project, to have the whole company pull together to take up the slack, and to undertake the change management initiatives for organizational transformation.

Learn and revisit. One of the inherent advantages of outcomes-based management is that, with a focus on the future, the grip of the present is less strong. It’s easier to assess the current situation dispassionately and determine if change is required to shorten the journey or improve the aim at the target. Though this license to re-think and change is an essential asset to project managers, it may be even more important to the business as a whole. Successfully “living there” occurs through ongoing examination and learning. Revisiting what’s being done and why should become second nature to people.

Two additional ongoing activities must explicitly overlay the above steps: develop and maintain executive passion, and develop and reinforce teamwork across the business and the impacted business communities. Executive and team behaviors must be consciously fostered throughout ES implementation. Otherwise, the barriers and restraints of business as usual will weaken alignment, project structure and the chances of successful outcomes.

Getting There: Managing ES Projects

Day-to-day project management is where everything comes together. ES project management involves orchestrating the work streams of many delivery teams, keeping those teams staffed and otherwise resourced, managing vendors and consultants, and communicating constantly and effectively with all constituencies, especially executive management. The project manager needs to focus not only on the technical software implementation, but also on managing teamwork and intra-project relationships, and fostering needed executive behaviors. If not managed well, any one of these dimensions can significantly undermine the project’s timeline, scope, economic value proposition, and prospects for completion and success. ES project management also involves:

Continuing the activities of project structuring, and sometimes restructuring the project on the fly. Team organization and governance are adjusted to accommodate changes in the players, business circumstances, outcomes priorities, and the growing experience level of the project staff. The technical architecture is adjusted as pilots reveal the detailed requirements of installation. And, of course, the details of the resource plan are adjusted continuously.

Occasionally revisiting with executive management the issues of “thinking there.” Even if business outcomes and project ambition are strongly aligned with business identity and strategy from the start, priorities and timing of outcomes may have to change due to changes in the business or the realities of how the ES project is unfolding.

Regularly anticipating “living there” issues. Day-to-day project management decisions should be driven by, in order of precedence: 1) business outcomes, 2) enabling the company to work well when the ES is in place, and 3) immediate project expediency. This precedence is clear, but can never be perfectly followed. The art of project management is making the tradeoffs that keep momentum up and keep the long-term direction in focus.

Paying constant attention to organizational change management. Change management activities – including general communications, changes in HR systems, and individual employee training – prepare people for the future by involving them in it, both intellectually and behaviorally. ES project management is as much about the work streams for change management as about those for process and technology change. Moreover, the project manager and other project leaders, by their personal example, create organizational energy and the will to change.

Many of the critical success factors for managing ES implementation are common to large business change initiatives: a clearly defined business model, strong sponsorship, an accomplished and well-positioned project manager, skilled and dedicated and empowered project teams, regular project tracking and reporting, and rapid resolution of issues as they inevitably arise. Several additional success factors are more specific to ES initiatives: avoiding the technology problems of inadequate infrastructure, managing the work of vendors and consultants, coping with team turnover during a lengthy project, managing the legacy environment in parallel, and communicating effectively with all stakeholders to maintain momentum.

Living There

The highest order of success is reached not just when a company attains the outcomes, and not just when it operates well with the ES in place, but when it becomes adept at “living there.” This means capitalizing on the information available in an ES and the experience gained in ES implementation, and making the ES a platform for new business initiatives, improved management processes, and ongoing creation of new business value.

Many firms that implement an ES tacitly assume that when the system is installed they are finished. The project team is disbanded save for a few maintenance personnel. The effort to mold the organization to the system, and vice-versa, is considered complete. Management’s attention moves to other issues. The ES project is a “success.”

But getting business value from an ES requires that it be viewed not as a project, but rather as a way of life. Some activities that are central to achieving ES value can only be undertaken once the system is in place. Others, though begun before installation, are not complete until the company learns to make the most of operating with an ES in place. There are the “living there” issues: How can the ES continue to make the firm more efficient and effective? How can the close fit between system and organization be maintained over time?

Some “living there” concerns involve operating the business and the ES after installation:

How do we maximize the value the organization derives from its ES in day-to-day operations?

How do we measure that value, above and beyond reaching the business outcomes, that drove the ES project?

How do we maintain and upgrade the ES?

Other “living there” concerns involve learning and adaptation:

How will the business and its ES accommodate changes to management processes and the information they use?

How will we adjust to changes in marketplace strategy, organizational structure, and operational processes?

How can we extend the ES model to customers and suppliers?

Few companies have had ESs implemented long enough to master all these “living there” issues, so there are no simple benchmarks or established best practice cases. Nonetheless, based on experience to date – especially the problems encountered by companies that failed to anticipate these issues – we can delineate the major issues of “living there” and adjust ES implementation activities to take advantage of that awareness.


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Global IT Management Teams

The CIO plays a key role in the organizational success of IT globalization by ensuring that the proper level of IT leadership is in place across the corporation. Regional or line of business IT executives must contribute to the global initiatives as a team. Ideally, the regional IT executives will report to the regional presidents. At a minimum, the regional IT executive must have access to and be in a position to influence the regional president and his or her direct reports. The global IT council, composed of the senior IT leadership from corporate headquarters and the regions, will then be in a position to play a key role in establishing programs, priorities, standards and support capabilities across the enterprise. Objectives of this global IT council will typically include:

  • Build and promote the global IT vision.
  • Determine the major components of the global applications portfolio.
  • Set technical and process standards for systems implementation.
  • Define responsibilities for implementation and support at the global, regional and local levels.
  • Drive maximum application commonality, balancing unique local requirements with the global business process models.
  • Demonstrate leadership in the transfer of business process models, templates and best practices in system implementation, and other organizational learning.
  • Seek economies of scale in IT, leveraging partnerships with key suppliers globally and pursuing shared services where it makes sense.

Typically, the corporate IT organization will own primary responsibility for IT vendor management, “product management” of the global solutions, applications integration and portfolio management, and IT infrastructure. Technical and user support will typically be marshaled to meet local coverage and service-level needs. Mobile implementation teams are often utilized at both the corporate and regional levels. The global IT council will seek the proper balance in local and regional user support services.

The global IT council also contributes to the “internationalization” of solutions and services by:

  • Recruiting the best business and IT professionals for the global process teams.
  • Ensuring regional representation on global technology teams charged with development of detailed standards (e.g., communications networks, email and collaboration tools, e-commerce technologies).
  • Assessing candidates for advancement in corporate or other regional IT leadership positions.

The members of the global IT council can also play a pivotal role in bringing regional business insight to the IT leadership team, and in influencing regional general management.

Early in any globalization effort, the IT council should resolve the primary responsibilities among corporate, major business units, regions, and local sites. The responsibility “boundaries” will evolve over time, but early classification can prove very productive in speeding discussions. The results of one such classification exercise at a global corporation are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Global IT Architecture Responsibility


Global IT Architecture Responsibility

The use of multiple specialized management teams on IT globalization initiatives can be a very effective way to strengthen effectiveness of global standards, and, more importantly, to create a sense of worldwide ownership of the results. To the extent possible, the teams should utilize company talent from around the world, including technical business leaders who own respect within the various international regions. Together these individuals become a powerful conduit for ideas and content from the region, and the promotion of standards to the local organizations. Examples of possible strategic global teams include:

  • Enterprise Applications Council – Provides leadership in business process model implementation, global/regional data models, applications integration standards, version management, and prioritization of requests for vendor enhancements.
  • Technical Infrastructure Council – Focuses on standards for networks, servers, operating systems, and solutions and tools for systems operation management, data management, information access, email, and collaboration tools.
  • Electronic Commerce Council – Typically chaired by corporate marketing, this council provides leadership in corporate “image” standards, Web-site linkage and content coordination, browsers and other tools, Web-page design, and technology services providers.
  • Shared Services Councils – Typically chaired by corporate finance, these teams pursue opportunities to improve operations economies through the establishment of shared services for processes that may be consistent across multiple locations. The shared services centers are typically by geographic region, and include functions such as finance, HR, legal, IT operations, and sometimes engineering.

For more information contact Shaun http://www.sacherpartners.eu

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  1. Track multi-project performance against program budget, delivery targets and business objectives; proactively forecast budget and resource requirements
  2. Audit project practices to meet quality objectives
  3. Coordinate and manage logistics, resources, and infrastructure requirements (e.g., personnel, PM tools and methods, contractors, etc.)
  4. Plan:  maintain a master plan identifying all project interconnections and dependencies and address delays before they affect other projects
  5. Manage quality:  make sure there is consistent implementation of methodologies and best practices
  6. Modify:  monitor changing business requirements; modify project plans and contingency plans as needed
  7. Communicate the objectives and progress of the program internally and externally; ensure communication among project teams
Program Management

Program Management

For more information contact Shaun http://www.sacherpartners.eu

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I have up-to-date content – both “off the shelf” and custom-developed.  This can be used for awareness building and executive education.  It can also be used as the basis for a design or problem solving workshop.

My domains of deep expertise include:

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I’ve Helped CEO’s, CFO’s, CIO’s and CTO’s All Over the World – Can I Help You?

Are you looking for an experienced thought partner for advice on IT strategic or organizational issues, or a fresh pair of eyes?  Would you like an independent outside party to bounce ideas off, validate strategies, refine organizational ideas, or help solve difficult problems?

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My rates are surprisingly affordable.  And I guarantee my work.  If I don’t think I can help you and deliver value way beyond my cost – I will tell you up front.  If I do think I can help you, and I’m wrong from your perspective, I will waive my fee!

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Please send me an email and we will schedule an initial call to see if I can be of service to you, and determine the most cost-effective way of working together.

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Why it really matters?

Information Management ServicesIn today’s world, nearly everything we do is captured digitally. This creates an enormous volume of digital information for businesses—and especially lawyers—to manage and maintain. How do you turn that data into knowledge? How do you access, compile, and analyze large amounts of information to help you win your case? And how can you be confident that you’ve found every piece of relevant information that exists and that you’ve protected the integrity of the evidence?

Why Sacher Partners?

In critical, high-impact cases, you need a partner with the mentality of an auditor and the diligence of a risk manager. Our senior professionals complement cutting-edge technology with the knowledge and expertise of a global team of highly credentialed and deeply experienced litigation experts.

We work directly with counsel to understand the situation, the facts and the data needs. Then we secure all the information needed so you can concentrate on the substance and strategy of your case. Need more Contact Us

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Manage Your Mission, Not Your Technology

Sacher Partners Volunteer Force was created to help organizations further their social missions.  Sacher Partners commitment goes beyond it’s customers and employees to a wider responsibility to make a positive difference. The company and staff contributed thousands of pounds to charity partners both near and far.

This global vision is based on a unique 1/1/1 integrated philanthropy model, closely linked with the Salesforce Foundation

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Free Customer Management Database for Nonprofits

The Salesforce.com Foundation donates the world’s leading customer relationship management solution for up to ten users to eligible nonprofits.  Additional users are offered by Salesforce.com at a deep discount.

As a service provider, Sacher Partners delivers additional customizations to match your particular donation model and we can also migrate data from legacy systems into the Salesforce.com database for planned gifts.

At Sacher Partners, we provide a starter template that allows you to use Salesforce.com to organize household, individual and donation information.  This customized database can replace the spreadsheets or legacy database that you may currently be using. Salesforce Record Types are used to display the proper data fields for each type of donation, including: Wills; Trusts; Unitrusts and Annuities…. Learn More

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We take our role in helping shape the future direction of an organization very seriously. We strive to use our influence to advance ideas and practices that will help your organization achieve greater effectiveness and improved mission impact.  Our solutions and recommendations are always practical and realistic for your organization.  All our services are completely customized to meet our client’s needs.

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Regards Shaun White Managing Partner

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TalendEverything you need, you get Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or “Cloud Solutions” is one component of an overall strategy to improve business process. Align business users and IT and get more from your cloud and on-premise data – DON’T WAIT TO INTEGRATE!… Learn more

The rapid adoption of cloud applications, platforms, and infrastructure has resulted in more fragmented data and an increased need to integrate data “in the cloud” with data in on-premise applications and databases. Line of business managers and SaaS administrators need rapid time to value and self service. Meanwhile, the IT organization is tasked with avoiding costly data silos eliminating untrustworthy point solutions.

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