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Confessions of a CEO: business journey lessons

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Ignorance can be bliss, however it can also be very punishing. Let me confess that I learned the hard way that there is a big difference between “implementing technology” and “implementing a business solution”.

I was a project manager for a Performance Management/Dashboard Project for a Fortune 250 company. I was young (good excuse) and did not have that much experience with the software. And to make a long story short – I utterly failed.

In my naivety, I contacted IT who showed me a selection of the best software tools in the world. I spent a ton of money, I spent years of company resources, and yet I never finalized and delivered what the business users really wanted.

But I also learned a lot from my mistakes. If you, too, are embarking on a business solution project, there is a big journey ahead of you to turn “software” or a “technology tool” into a Business Solution.

Here, I bare my soul and share the first five insights that might help you in your upcoming BI investment decision.

  • Lesson 1: You don’t know what you want

The problem is that the person who is buying the solution (you) does not know exactly what all you will need before you are deep into the project and implementing a tool.

Invariably, you must find a workaround because you chose a solution that won’t do what you need it to do. Lesson Learned: Choose software that is flexible, without programming.

  • Lesson 2: The devil is in the details

How mature is the product you are evaluating? How flexible is it? Instead of trying to look at features and functions, run through one of your business scenarios and check out the level of realistic details that the solution you are evaluating can support.

  • Lesson 3: How rich in functionality is the tool?

Since you haven’t purchased and implemented such tools before, you can’t be 100% sure what to ask for, nor do you know which functionality will make your life easy or what can turn it into a nightmare.

Because I had to start from a blank sheet of paper, I’ve since collected requirements from hundreds of tenders and RFPs into a software selection guide.

  • Lesson 4: How agile is it?

In a fast-moving world where business is changing constantly, you need to check out the solution’s agility. How easy is it to change, what are the impact of the changes, who can do the changes and where are the changes made?

Challenge the vendor on this! Business is always changing. You don’t want to have to wait for IT to re-code something to support your rapidly changing business.

  • Lesson 5: How does it handle exceptions?

Business is full of exceptions. Does this sound familiar: “For this KPI all units should be aggregated except this one.” or ”All should business units should have automatic status lights based on a formula except this unit, which is the corporate staff.”?

A business is full of these exceptions and your software solution should be able to handle that. Most software implementations experience 80% of the total cost arising from exception handling. Check out how exceptions are managed in the solution you are evaluating: Does it require programming or can the software handle it “out of the box”?

I used these hard-earned lessons when I founded Corporater 18 years ago. As a result, Corporater has a 95% customer retention rate and we have not needed to perform ANY customization at our clients over the past 18 years. Why? Because we have an agile, functionality-rich, Business Management Platform that supports configuring your business solutions out of the box.

About the author

Tor Inge Vasshus is the Founder and CEO of Corporater and an all-round Enterprise Performance Management professional, as well as:

  • An experienced practitioner of management methodologies such as balanced scorecard
  • Consultant and advisor to enterprises using these methodologies
  • Dynamic speaker on performance management at conferences and universities worldwide
  • An innovative software solution provider to enterprises that aspire performance excellence

Having lived through the effects of IT-controlled performance management solutions, Tor Inge had a vision to create software that could be run by business users. Thus, he founded Corporater in 2000.

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