One of the many challenges that organizations face today is the transition from implementation to operations with their trade promotion or trade optimization system. During deployment and post go-live, this transition can bring significant costs and risks. That very well explains the growing shift toward solutions that are integrated with the application lifecycle – sometimes bought through the same vendor from where the application was purchased or at other times working with a third-party provider. This complexity is compounded when implementing trade promotion management (TPM) or trade promotion optimization (TPO) systems due to their highly complex and integrated nature.
Transitions that are implemented with long-term, future results and a clear end state are predicted to produce sustainable results. Utilizing an application management services (AMS) provider can ensure that these transitions are implemented with long-term, future results predicted to produce sustainable results.
Challenges and Key Success Factors of AMS for your Trade System
AMS for trade would be simple if the transition to production could be a seamless workflow of practice and knowledge from one phase to another but that’s not always an option. In the ideal world, following the implementation of a system, you would immediately move into managed services and have resources providing support who know your organizations processes and systems. But in a lot of cases, organizations decide to move to AMS long after the initial implementation, with the intent to free up their internal resources to focus more on strategic projects or transition away from a different AMS provider. Within a TPM landscape the delay in transition to support can lead to critical deficiencies around key areas that change quickly with the business including:
- how each account plan is set up and if any changes are required,
- if any of the interfaces between the trade system, financial system of record, demand planning system, BW, and Master Data source system,
- standard functionality that is available but not leveraged in current configuration
Once an organization decides to hire an AMS provider, there are practical challenges that make the transition to managed services much harder, some of them outlined below.
Knowledge Transfer: Organizations often underestimate the rate of knowledge transfer and overestimate the quality of their in-house processes for engaging a third party, which results in slower than desired ramp up of the AMS team and the internal team resisting to engage with the support team. To prevent this, it’s important to have a designated knowledge transfer period built into your onboarding plan. Identifying key SMEs or Super Users as business process owners cross-functionally is also equally critical to the onboarding support to ensure system support for your TPM or TPO solution is complete and effective.
System Documentation: Whether your organization decides to move straight from implementation into AMS or if you onboard an AMS provider years later, it’s extremely important to have robust system documentation to provide to the AMS team supporting your trade system. Research found that the average business runs 129 enterprise IT applications. By documenting, AMS resources can get up to speed faster and reduce the number of questions asked to the internal team. It’s also imperative to keep all system documentation up to date when new enhancements are implemented. As organizations undergo digital transformations, having the right AMS provider is critical.
Fuzzy Processes:During system lifecycle, un-defined processes in areas of configuration management, release management, incident management, ticket resolution, and resource capacity pose challenges on the AMS for trade resources. Although an AMS operations or maintenance guide might exist originally obtained from the source vendor, it’s likely to have very superficial information that support professionals can’t decipher. In addition, organizations cut corners on creating well-structured knowledge repositories essential for support teams that change over time.
The above-mentioned challenges pose unique risks and costs that can be certainly controlled with the right approach. It’s important to find the right mix of resources to work with your team to support your systems. If planned frugally, organizations quite often end up with a low-cost outsourcing model that’s completely disengaged from design and build teams, thus leaving invaluable knowledge on the outsourcing floor. And in many cases, you will not have a consistent resource you can call upon for help.
The most effective place to land is a model that does a good job in transferring knowledge from internal design/build resources to external operations teams. This requires a value mindset with performance measures focused on achieving specific business objectives.
Whether outsourcing applications to a single vendor, working across multiple vendors, or going it in-house, the same critical considerations apply in managing effective transitions, here are some of the characteristics one should look for in the design, build, and operations teams.
Managing Effective Transitions
AMS resources can add significant value if they work in step with the internal team to achieve the organization’s priorities. A good AMS team is regularly capturing business metrics that can be measured and adjusted to best support the organization and has good understanding of the industry at large. The services provided should have the ability to identify where additional demand is coming from and provided additional support quickly.
The success of accelerated turnover increases greatly when the design/build vendor is also delivering ongoing support. The benefit increases again when resources involved during implementation are from the same vendor organization that are carried over as part of the AMS outsourcing team. This sort of team continuity is essential in managing the main value levers for effective AMS – retaining knowledge, reducing frictional costs, and managing operating risk.
Many organizations still believe that ‘going live’ is the end of the trade system deployment lifecycle – and that’s always a mistake. If the design/build team let’s up at this point, they will struggle to build a stable service management system that is fully transitioned to the service organization. ’Go-Live’ is just another critical checkpoint in the roadmap but not the end of the trade journey. One way to mitigate this risk is to appoint an in-house transition lead who oversees all the elements from planning through final transition and works with the service organization in parallel.
In today’s reality, transitions are a fact of life that can generate excessive operational costs and risks if not managed diligently. Our disciplined methodology for structuring transitions is a proven model that minimizes costs and mitigates risk to help accelerate speed to service excellence. If your business is interested in hiring an AMS provider to maximize your trade benefits, talk to our experts at Clarkson Technology Solutions today.
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Contributions from Megan Weldon and Aaron Messer