This series explores some of the special considerations required to develop solutions inside the enterprise. At LDS, we believe that the approaches used to develop consumer-facing solutions need to be adjusted for this special context along three dimensions: The Product, User- and Stakeholder Management, and Success and Failure.
- The Strategy-Solution connection: Enterprise solutions are meant to drive and support business strategy. Just as strategies are unique, Solutions need to be as well. Rolling out an Enterprise solution platform that is not customized to your strategy will not get you the results you want. Traditional thinking was that this relationship is strictly top-down (strategy first, solution second), but as companies are embarking on Digital Transformation projects to build strategic advantages, the relationship is becoming more of a parallel one, with strategy and technology taking synchronous steps.
- The Change Connection: Innovative enterprise solutions pull the employee towards the strategy. They move employees and their behaviors to a new place. Employees need to understand what that new place (strategy) is and how the solution relates to it. This makes integrated Change Management and Governance programs key for the definition and continued success of your solution.
- The Opportunity Path: Inside the Enterprise, the path of opportunity to launching a successful solution is different (and probably) somewhat narrower than for commercial products. The number of users available to provide input on requirements and pilot solutions inside the enterprise is naturally limited to employees who also have a full-time job to fulfill. Negative feedback and too much disruption can create lasting reputational problems for a solution. New design and development approaches provide opportunities to engage users early and often, but they need be implemented thoughtfully to maintain a strong strategy connection and not expose employees to solutions that are too unfinished.
- The Ecosystem Connection: Enterprise solutions operate in a complex ecosystem. They need to align and integrate with a myriad of platforms, tools, cloud providers, etc. They need to rationalize the experience for the user, so the user does not have to. Understanding a solution’s place in the ecosystem and its connections and limitations is critical to all aspects of your solution development plan.
- The Platform Connection: Tying enterprise ecosystems together often means that organizations commit to specific vendors and their platforms. Platform preferences or decisions should not lead the project down a specific path too early; getting the What and How mixed up is often an issue in the Enterprise context that needs to be avoided. Projects need to be given time and space to truly define the solution vision and purpose, before adding the technology lens.
- The Cost Equation: Enterprise solutions generate real value and greatly impact business effectiveness and productivity. However, they are on the “cost-side” of the business and funding is tightly controlled. Like any digital product, they require ongoing funding for maintenance and growth. And since they don’t generate revenue, there is often an “and then we are done” attitude versus the ability or willingness for ongoing funds leverage and continually maximize investment.
In our next article we will explore in more detail the particularities of user and stakeholder management inside the Enterprise.