Out with the Old and In with the New – Picking Your Path (3 of 4)

old_techThis is the third posting in our series to help you assess the resources, methods, and timing to move from a legacy system to process enablement using a new system.

In our first post, we stressed the importance of clearly defining what processes the new system should enable and what steps should be automated.  In our second post we discussed selecting the correct technology for your new system.  Once you have a very well defined idea of what the new system should accomplish and the level of automation that is needed, and you have made the next critical decision – the technology to be used – you can now determine the best way to proceed to the new system.

In this phase of the assessment your focus will shift from “what” to “how” and “when”.  Just as in the first 2 phases of the assessment, you will have some choices to make in this phase of the assessment as well.  To gather the information that you need to make the correct choices you should poll your user and executive communities to find the following information:

  1. Is there a new product initiative and when is the anticipated launch?
  2. Is there a new law that impacts your business and when will it take effect?
  3. Is there a compelling business event on the horizon, how will it impact your processes?
  4. Has the competitive landscape changed and how is that impacting your business?
  5. Has there been a change in senior management and how is there direction changing your business processes?
  6. Is there a budget process and how many resources have been allocated to system and process change?
  7. Is there a large problem with the current system that can’t be or is too expensive to fix?

There may be other questions particular to your business (information privacy, system security, and merger and acquisition come to mind) but be sure to at least explore and answer the 7 questions above.

New systems are disruptive to the company culture, now is the time to assess how much disruption your organization can withstand.  Is a rip the bandage off approach the best one or would a less disruptive approach be better.   In other words, is it logical to deploy the new system to all potential users, or would a phased in approach to select user groups work better?  Should you wait to release until all of the envisioned processes are enabled or is it a better choice to release when key processes are enabled and then schedule subsequent small releases when additional development is completed?  Your assessment should explore and explain your options on “how” and “when”.  It should include compelling reasons for each possible path and pitfalls to avoid on each path.  The first draft should not seek to recommend a single path but rather, expose and explore several viable alternate design, development, and deployment options that fit your needs and circumstances.  Your goal is to weed out any recommendations that don’t fit with your needs and circumstances and you should have enough information at this point to do that.

Eventually, the final document will have a “best” glide path in it, along with the other paths that were explored and rejected.  Getting to that best path is the subject of our next posting in this series.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.

 

CRM – The Customer Voice #2 – When Should You Listen and Respond?

faces2

In our blog CRM -The Customer Voice #1 we quoted an excellent article on why it is important to gather customer feedback, and many suggestions on how you can gather that feedback.  In this short blog we are expanding on the article to explore who should be listening and when should they take action.

Many of you may have been taught that the customer is always right and nothing we are about to say contradicts that, however,we are suggesting that, although you should always listen, sometimes when the customer provides you feedback, it is better for your organization to ignore it! What?!?  In the past, it was much more difficult and costly to gather customer feedback (customers spoke to your sales channel, called your support group, or wrote to a corporate officer (yes, using the U.S. Post Office!).  Today’s technology has significantly lowered the barrier, which has in turn lowered the value of any one bit of customer feedback.  So how do you know what is valuable and what isn’t, when to act and when to stand pat?

It starts with who actually will review and evaluate the feedback.  In the olden days it was probably the sales rep, the support rep, or the corporate officer.  In all three cases, those individuals could be counted on to act in their own self-interest (e.g. make more sales, close the support case) and move on the feedback appropriately.  Today, feedback comes to virtually everyone in your organization from Web Designer to Shipping Clerk.  That means that there could be too many people in the loop to make coherent decisions and take decisive action unless you devise a strategy to evaluate and prioritize the feedback.  Here is what we suggest.

  1. Make certain that everyone in your company has an iron-clad understanding of your corporate vision and goals, especially your product and support organizations.  This is vital in understanding and prioritizing customer feedback.
  2. Establish a central repository for customer feedback and have your support organization review all of it
  3. Establish ‘hot stove’ criteria and recommended action. That is, anytime you receive customer feedback that is preventing them from doing business with you (e.g. crashed web site, non-operating toll-free number, incorrect operating instructions) have a plan and act on it.  There is no substitute for fixing the issue and performing service recovery.
  4. Empower your well informed support team to evaluate the rest of the feedback. We believe that your focus on the customer, your clearly communicated vision and goals, and your trust in your employees will lead them to making the appropriate decision on how to respond to the feedback.  We believe that they will:
    1. Share valuable information with the appropriate internal teams (such as product development)
    2. Evaluate all feedback against your vision and goals and whether or not the feedback is
      1. From a customer that supports the vision and goals
      2. Contains information valuable to reaching those goals
    3. Keep emotions in check – remember that unless this is a hot stove issue, they are free to determine its importance and urgency and not become panicked or flustered
    4. Understand the sentiment behind the feedback and look for trends not just a quick fix
    5. Keep close to the internal teams, even when the root cause is proving difficult to identify or fix

Customer feedback, even when it is highly negative, is valuable.  However, if you attempt to categorize it and deal with each bit as though you are in a fire drill each time, it will quickly become viewed as drudgery and not as treasure.   Celebrate positive feedback, even when it is minor, and aggregate negative feedback into achievable goals.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

 

Project Killers: Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh my!

OZYou’ve just discovered yourself surrounded by Witches and Munchkins in Munchkin land and you desperately want to get back to Kansas.  You’ve heard that the Wizard of Oz in Emerald City can help you get back, but how do you find the Wizard?  Just follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Do you see the similarities to your CRM project?   In Munchkin land Dorothy had a clear goal, return to Kansas with the help of the Wizard of Oz.  Your CRM project has a clear goal; help grow your profits by delighting your customers.  The path from Munchkin land to the Wizard is the Yellow Brick Road.  Your path to delighting your customers is your project statement of work.  Just as Dorothy gathered helpers on her journey to Oz, you will assemble a project team to assist you in getting to Deployment.   Finally, just like Dorothy you start off confidently down the road.

If you have watched the 1939 classic movie the Wizard of Oz, you should remember that the Yellow Brick Road was a path filled with risks to the journey – or as the Strawman and Tin Woodman stated – Lions, and Tigers and Bears.  There were also belligerent fruit trees, wicked witches, and deadly poppies along the way.  Dorothy hadn’t planned for any of these risks and would have been stopped ‘dead’ in her tracks if not for the help of her companions and finally the intervention of Glinda the good witch.

Your project path is a lot like the Yellow Brick Road.  yellow brick roadWhat are the lions, and tigers, and bears you will face?  Where are the belligerent fruit trees and deadly poppies?  Who are the ‘bad witches’ and what risks do they introduce?  Every project faces at least one risk to successful completion.  Most of the time, there are myriad risks to successful completion.  If these risks are not identified and/or not mitigated, they become impacts.  Impacts cost the project time, money, and scope.  In the most severe form, they kill the project before any benefit can be realized!

Dorothy ran head long into her risks and impacts, and unless you have a ‘Glinda’ protecting you, we don’t recommend that approach.  Instead create a detailed project plan using a tool such as MS Project that can point out some of the most common risks faced by a CRM project.  Here are the top 10 risks as identified by online-crm.com:

  1. Invalid project assumptions (different expectations among stakeholders)
  2. Project planning omissions. Significant delays incurred not because project planning tasks were underestimated but because project tasks were completely omitted (forgotten)
  3. Data conversion delay. Unanticipated data scrubbing due to poor data quality
  4. Lack of continuity or consistency of business processes among multiple locations (as well as the introduction of sub-optimization by some locations)
  5. Failure to proactively anticipate and mitigate user adoption challenges – fear of change, sub-optimization and/or sacred cows. Closely aligned with failure to recognize the change in cultural due to a CRM implementation
  6. Missing or infrequent active and visible executive sponsorship
  7. Project is perceived by users as optional; CRM software failure is an option
  8. Failure to backfill project team schedules/workloads
  9. Failure to recognize weak (basic PC operation) user skills assessment prior to training
  10. Failure of Risk Management and proactive risk mitigation

Interesting to note that one of the top 10 risks to any CRM project is the lack of proactive risk mitigation!  Your job as a project manager is to identify these above risks (and all others) well in advance of running into them, determine the potential each has for becoming an ‘impact’ to the project, determine whether or not to accept or mitigate the risk, and establish a risk mitigation plan for each risk that you have identified should be mitigated.  Those mitigation plans should have tasks, resources, and due dates that are tracked on your project plan with strict adherence.  Each risk that is not mitigated becomes an ‘impact’, you will have to deal with impacts to the project, but by the time you are dealing with them the project has been delayed, made more costly, reduced in scope, or all 3.  If you don’t have more time or don’t have more money, and Glinda doesn’t come to your rescue, your project has just come to the end of the Yellow Brick Road with the gleaming Emerald City far in the distance.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Focus on the Customer by Empowering Your Employees

Before you read this article, please go to the shelf, find your customer service standard operating procedures, dust them off, and check to see how many issues your organization faces daily that aren’t covered by a listed procedure. The truly customer-focused organizations are keenly aware that there are many situations that arise that are not covered by a known procedure and in order to keep the customer satisfied, action that is ‘against policy’ may have to be taken. These organizations engender a Focus on the Customer culture that empowers employees to do just that.

Empowering an employee to advocate for the customer, however, doesn’t necessarily give them the tools to do so. For years companies have been seeking the best way to handle these un-documented service scenarios so that the customer is satisfied and the company interests are also protected. Many people feel that if they tell the Customer Service Rep to treat the customer as fairly as they would want to be treated, then that meets an internal standard for solving the customer’s issue and protecting the corporate interests. However, many others feel that relying on a single employee’s perception of ‘fair’ may not do either of those things. This latter stream of thought has led some companies to insert a management review stage into the process that is counter-productive to an empowered culture.

Don Peppers, a highly respected author and CRM researcher, recently blogged about a new and innovative approach being tried by an Australian company. In their system, the customer service representative formulates an approach to solve the customer’s issue. However, before presenting it to a customer, they present it to a peer in customer service. If two customer service reps agree that the solution is the right one that is the one presented to the customer. In addition, the solution is reviewed later by management to see if it is something that would make sense to include in a standard procedures manual. This approach seems to preserve the culture of empowerment while ensuring that a ‘reviewed’ solution is used. It has the added benefit of increasing the knowledge base for the company.

If you have an innovative idea for creating and maintaining an empowered customer service culture that focuses on the customer, we would like to hear from you as well. Customer Relationship Management is a marriage of culture and technology and the companies that customers like to buy from are the ones where that relationship is nurtured from the boardroom to the warehouse.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

eVerge Upgrades Fusion HCM to Release 7: January 2014

We recently upgraded our Oracle Fusion HCM install from Release 5 to 7.  In this blog, the focus is on the new features and functionality of Release 7.   This release touted new features spanning many of the Fusion HCM products.  The major features of interest to our project team included the Simplified User Interface, OTBI Reporting, Talent Management and Workforce Compensation enhancements, as well as Payroll reporting.

Below you will find a sampling of what Release 7 has to offer us and our customers:

Simplified User Interface:

From Oracle: The simplified user interface for the Oracle Applications Cloud is a modern, intuitive, streamlined user interface for self-service users who need access to HR related tasks and information.  The Simplified User Interface is a quick access point for casual users to perform the most common HR tasks.

Our take: Our compensation plans are already configured with custom alerts to aid our managers with the compensation process.  Some of the alerts we had already incorporated are identifying terminated employees and recent new hires.  We plan to take advantage of this new feature for our upcoming quarterly bonus payout plan.  Providing our managers with real time changes will further enhance our compensation process.

Copy/Export/Import Extract Definition Functionality

From Oracle: You can now create new extract definitions through copy or export/import. Copy, Export, and Import process options are available on the table header of the Search Results table on the Manage Definitions page. Copy allows you to copy an extract definition within the same Legislative Data Group (LDG).  Export allows you to create an .xsd file with all the extract definition details. This .xsd file can be imported in any Fusion HCM pod (instance) across releases. You can use Export/Import to copy the extract definitions across different LDGs. You need to specify the target LDG while importing the .xsd file.

Our take: Our project team was successfully able to migrate data using the delivered Export/Import process. By using the delivered utility, we were able to eliminate data entry errors; and in addition, reduced the time for validation and verification. In addition to the LDG enhancement, we used the Export/Import delivered utility to migrate Implementation Project Plans from one Fusion HCM Pod to another. Our project team will definitely leverage the enhanced Export/Import utility for ongoing implementation efforts.

Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence (OTBI) Enhancements

If you are not familiar with OTBI, it is essentially a set of pre-seeded yet customizable analysis structures that Fusion Applications users can access to create ad hoc reports, dashboards and alerts to aid daily decision-making.

From Oracle: The following OTBI features were added or changed since the last release of Oracle Fusion Applications:

•           Gender and Ethnicity have been added to the Worker dimension in all subject areas. The most recent gender and the primary ethnicity for the country or legislation of the worker’s primary assignment are used.

 •           A new Department Hierarchy dimension has been created to allow hierarchical aggregated reporting from the most recent active department tree, which contains only HCM Department Organizations. This dimension has been added to the Real Time subject areas.

 •           Assignment Count has been added to the Worker Assignment fact in the Workforce Management Real Time subject area.

 Our take: OTBI has had several iterations and continues to evolve over the life of the HCM Fusion product, but all reporting as needed for trends and analytics becomes more prominent. OTBI in Oracle’s Fusion HCM allows users to develop reports using Subject areas with a graphical interface and publish the analytics under one console. The figure shown is example of an analysis using Assignment Count fact measure. During the recruiting process, Worker analysis is performed for the staffing needs. That being said, the new enhancements in OTBI will help us match the skill set with the job requirements. 

 

Performance Management Enhancements

From Oracle: Performance Management Overview Pages Redesign; The Worker Overview page and My Directs tab in the Manager Overview page have been redesigned to a worker-centric layout.  In the new design, the page displays all performance documents for which each worker is eligible.  In previous versions My Directs tab on the Manager Overview page, a performance document had to be selected first to determine which workers were eligible to access it.

Our take: Oracle really listened to their customers by redesigning the manager’s view into their people’s performance documents.  This was a frustrating experience for our managers prior to Release 7.  This was the case especially for managers with a large number of direct reports.  The new overview displays the manager’s direct reports and the documents that are eligible and ready for evaluation.  Also, filtering capabilities are provided to list direct reports by document name, status and direct report. 

 

From Oracle: Performance document calculated ratings can now become the official rating.  Template configuration options are now available to define section ratings to be the calculated rating.  Prior to release 7 the calculated rating served as a guide for employees and managers to manually select a rating. 

Our take: Once again Oracle listened to their customers.  Our performance process is designed to rely on the calculated ratings.  Prior to Release 7, manually selecting a section rating was an additional step for our users.  Also, in many cases the incorrect section rating was selected and required administrative assistance to correct the ratings.  Today our users simply rate the individual items in a section and let the system do the rest.

Workforce Compensation: Alert Managers When Amounts They Enter Are Overridden

From Oracle: You can now create custom alerts to notify managers when a higher manager overrides a compensation amount. New columns can be used as conditions when building alerts, to identify the name of the manager who originally entered an amount and the name of the manager who last updated an amount. Previously, these columns were not available for use as conditions when building custom alerts, so managers had no clear visibility when an amount that they entered was modified by someone else.

Our take: Our compensation plans are already configured with custom alerts to aid our managers with the compensation process.  Some of the alerts we had already incorporated are identifying terminated employees and recent new hires.  We plan to take advantage of this new feature for our upcoming quarterly bonus payout plan.  Providing our managers with real time changes will further enhance our compensation process.

 

Payroll Enhancements

From Oracle: Several reports are now available for Fusion Payroll.  Oracle has delivered on several new reports including the Gross To Net, Activity Report, and Payroll Register.

Our take: Prior to Release 7 we had to rely on custom reports.  These new delivered reports are a positive step in the right direction, and we look forward to additional delivered reports in the future to help streamline our payroll process.

You can find more information for Release 7 by reading the release notes or attending HCM Live webinars.

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience in HCM. To learn more about HCM Fusion and how we can help implement HCM Fusion for your organization, please contact us at 888-548-1973 or through our website http://www.evergegroup.com/contact.php