Just because you’re all excited about the game changing potential of EPM, doesn’t mean that so are the people who will have to sign off on your EPM implementation.
At Strafford we are well aware that the decision to implement EPM does not happen on impulse. We have been marketing, implementing, and supporting enterprise financial accounting software for decades and have seen many trends come and go along the way. But if there is one trend that has been unmistakable and consistent over all that time it is this: just as the software itself has become more powerful, more integrated, and more all-encompassing, the go/no-go decision to adopt that software takes more time, involves more people, and considers a greater multiplicity of factors than in the past. Another trend, related to the first and equally consistent, is that the more an organization actually wants EPM, the more likely it will achieve EPM success.
What is EPM success? There are some definite markers:
- Commitments by implementation partners that deliverables, milestones, and budgets are met
- Performance SLAs (both for the software and the implementation partner) are well-defined and consistently exceeded
- Key financial events (e.g., closings, budget prep, consolidations) are not disrupted and continue to occur as previously planned, throughout the implementation period
- End-user training, consulting, and helpdesk support ensures a smooth transition without the frustration and resistance that can come with newly acquired software
- The organization quickly realizes EPM benefits like clearer financial visibility; faster, more efficient financial operations; more end-user financial self-service; and improved enterprise financial performance overall
The fact that someone will perform a skill better if they actually want to acquire the skill is just basic human nature. Nor is it a surprise that a principle like this that applies to people individually should apply as well to organizations of people. Navigating the journey to EPM success is a skill that inevitably some organizations (hopefully yours) will perform better than others. The first step is getting your colleagues to want to take that journey.
Set the Right Expectations
You need to tell people what EPM means to them and not be too theoretical when you do. Of course, you first need to know in your own mind what you expect your move to EPM to accomplish. One of Strafford’s specialties, in fact, is empowering EPM champions so they are well equipped to win the EPM business case with decision-makers and influencers. We do that by sitting down with you and your core team to evaluate the state of your current financial ecosystem and what the outcomes are that you can expect from an EPM implementation — expressed in terms like the EPM success metrics listed above, such as faster close, clearer financial visibility, and opportunities for financial stakeholder self-service. We will especially focus on the major pain points and lowest hanging fruit where people can see the most immediate and impactful results.
We will also address with you those EPM success metrics listed above related to how well the actual implementation itself goes, specifically with respect to reducing disruption, setting milestones and budgets, and mitigating end-user concerns about getting up to speed quickly with the new functionality. That includes how we expect to train and support users once the new system is in place.
What a Picture is Worth
When it comes to getting other people see what you see, it helps to show them pictures. A big part of EPM’s value, in fact, happens visually through highly interactive charts, score cards, and dashboards that are much more insightful than the rows and columns on a spreadsheet. So, it makes sense to harness EPM visualizations when building a business case for EPM. End-users will get a sense they can actually assert control over their organization’s finances in real time rather than just wait for reports and schedule a meeting. That’s why a critical part of getting colleagues on board is to show them some actual visualizations they can play with, either using their own data or realistic sample data. This approach of show-versus-tell and showing customers the most impactful deliverables early is all part of the agile methodology — the methodology Strafford employs throughout the EPM implementation. We recognize that the need to get stakeholder buy-in never ends.
Pick Your EPM Partner Carefully
All these recommendations assume you are not attempting an EPM implementation alone. So, obviously, you need to pick your partner carefully. Naturally, the partner should be highly experienced, provide great references, and have preferred status with an industry-leading software provider. But the partner should also demonstrate significant expertise helping EPM champions like you make their EPM business case. Fortunately, that is something you can evaluate very early in the selection process, when the partner makes its own business case — to you.