Aligning the business proposition to the needs of the company is vital if companies are to get positive benefits from their investment in technology. John Keegan, recently appointed Head of Proposition Delivery at Exaxe, has emphasised the importance of addressing the business need during the selection and definition phase of a technology project in order to maximise the return on the company’s investment.
“Too often, those selecting technology can zero in on the technology behind the system, rather than concentrating on the business solution offered”, John believes. “The leap to new technologies means that the new solution looks dramatically modern and up-to-date. Yet it doesn’t necessarily do what the business needs it to do. As a result, the solution proposed doesn’t deliver for the real needs of the business and the gain from the investment is incremental rather than transformative.”
John’s belief is that the issue can arise on both sides; the purchaser’s needs can be over influenced by the existing systems they have and the vendor’s proposition being defined in terms of the capabilities of the solution they are offering. This can lead to a loss of focus on what the business is actually trying to achieve.
He gives the example of a business process, which has 12 manual touch-points in the old solution. If the new solution, however trendy, also has 12 manual touch-points, the proposition will be just as expensive to run operationally as the existing one and all the purchaser will have gained is a more modern interface with which to administer a process that is just as expensive as it was before.
“My experience is that the most successful projects are those that examine the detail of the business processes and focus on ensuring an improvement in those processes,” said John. “Only by doing so, can the project ensure that the new solution proposed delivers the efficiency savings required to reduce the administration costs of the process and thereby delivers a proper return on the investment by the purchaser. “
The key to a successful proposition definition lies in the interaction between the purchaser and the vendor. The teasing out of the real requirement between those from the company who are the business experts and those from the vendor who are the solution experts needs to be carefully managed to avoid the trap of defining the need in terms of the existing system or the new system and focus clearly on what the company is trying to do. As John concludes, “Technology is not an end in itself and must just as manifestly define its value to the corporation as any other investment.”