Intro: Blueprint and Run

Because we are implementing our system all of the time, this guide and its supporting content will continue to evolve. We’re continually trying to make the journey as simple, comprehensive, understandable and comfortable as possible for you and your team.

Everyone’s feedback is welcomed. What you tell us is valuable and will be followed up.

What’s in this guide?

This guide summarizes the journey from the point you realize you need a better system through to post going live with Salesorder.com. You really do need to understand this journey for your project to succeed.

Please read this whole guide carefully, make notes and ask us questions. The stupid questions are the ones you were too embarrassed to ask 😉 We’re nice people here.

There are three phases in the journey of your system from project initiation to live operations:

Blueprint - Design and plan - Scope of work Build - Set up, train and test - Detailed- plan, due dates and costs and System ready to go live Run - Go live and operations - Live system, operating and next steps plan

The primary objective of the journey is to optimize your workflows and processes to create a solid but adaptable foundation to enable the incremental and continuous improvement of the performance of your business.

…the one piece of wisdom you should take from this guide

Your project will last significantly longer and cost more than it should if you rush any part of the Blueprint phase.

Every journey we’ve been on consistently proves one critical point, thoroughness and diligence in the Blueprint phase is the key to a successful and stress-free project.

We urge you to take your time. Don’t assume or guess anything, continually question what you see and what stakeholders tell you.

Get them to write it down. Get them to write it down. Get them to write it down. It will make them think deeper about the details. Point made?

…be ready to go live before you need to go live

You are implementing a mission-critical system, probably spending tens of thousands of dollars, making hundreds of decisions and investing months of hard work.

You’re doing all this to adopt a platform that will help you grow your business over at least the next ten years. We urge you to take your time (again).

Getting a new system in by a specific date calculated at the start of the journey is a tough ask and very unlikely. You do not have a crystal ball, everything is a guess.

The specific date becomes an expectation and a promise. Don’t begin to forecast or communicate the live date until the planning stage of the

Build phase is complete, and ALL of the activities required to fill the gaps have firm end dates, then add another more time as a contingency.

Start a LOT earlier than you guess (or think 😉 you need to. Aim to have a system ready to go before (not at) a month-end. Make sense?

…the truth about costs

None wants to get this wrong. At the outset of the project, any prediction about costs is going to be inaccurate.

No two organizations and therefore no two projects are the same. All the people are different. Their abilities, work rates, and availability will vary. Unforeseen events and distractions will disrupt timescales.

The immense amount of intricate detail makes software projects highly complex.  The amount of detail, its discovery and comprehension will drive the duration of the Blueprint phase.

The Blueprint phase is about robust design, good design takes time. The debates will be iterative. Sometimes designs will have to be torn up and redone. It’s the nature of good design.

The Blueprint phase is critical. As an example, this can take up to eight weeks for seventy to one hundred person organizations. This is a pessimistic estimate.

The output of the Blueprint phase is a scope of work. The scope of work defines what has to be done. It contains sequenced lists of tasks and their inter-dependencies.

The elapsed times of each task list is going to be difficult to determine in the Blueprint phase. This is simply because the data about who can do what when is incomplete.

The scope of work is a list of tasks. When all the stakeholders have agreed on the details within this list of tasks, you can now turn your attention to working out how much effort each task will realistically require.

Remember, this equates to the task not the elapsed time. You need those who will own and undertake each task to comfortably succeed.

This is a negotiation. Don’t set anyone up to fail. The consequences are obvious. This negotiation happens at the start of the Build phase.

There are going to be third parties, the standout examples are barcode hardware supply and software development. You need to nail their timescale and costs and add reasonable contingency time.

Get their commitments agreed and written down.

The result of the Build phase is a ruthlessly pragmatic plan that everyone is comfortable to commit to. Everyone knows what has to be done, and what is expected of them. The tasks drive the costs.

We’re now left with two things, resource availability, and contingencies. Add up the amount of effort required from each stakeholder at an individual level to calculate how much time is required from them.

Using this number look at the elapsed time this could take. Now interrogate each stakeholder about their availability. The resources within your organization have full-time jobs fulfilling their roles in your business.

Factor this into your calculation, watch out for holidays and personal events. Check for events in their business calendars.

Whatever you determine, add a few weeks of contingency.

Sum the costs, build in a buffer or margin for error. Explain them to whoever needs to know. Get the costs approved.

Tools?

For mapping analyses, workflows, processes, and plans out use Mindmeister. For listing and managing tasks, specifically in the scope of work, use Monday.com.

We’ve created templates for the latter. Both apps are in the cloud, so it goes without saying you can encourage everyone to get on the same web page(s).

A summary of the journey

Here’s a breakdown of the journey. In each phase, we highlight and summarize the key activities. You’ll find more detail about each phase in the ‘Implementation’  section of the documentation.

The objective of the Blueprint phase is to design the solution, define the scope of work to deliver it, and plan who is going to do each task.

Leader: Appoint one, give them full authority to lead and manage your and our sides. Your project will definitely fail without a leader who is in the detail (I mean it). It does not matter who’s payroll the leader is on.

Team: Identify and engage key users (and external stakeholders). Who will participate, who are the domain experts, and who can manage? Confirm who will approve what. Check if you have the right resources. If you think you don’t, reach out to us.

Scope: Divide the solution domain into high level, logical strategic functions i.e. data strategy, sales operations, fulfillment operations, accounting operations, reporting, etc. Be aware of dimensions like order volumes, the number of users, trading partners, product lines and third-party technology.

Objectives: Identify, prioritize and document key objectives for each strategic function. Include opportunities to be exploited and problems to be solved within each strategic function.

Business analysis: Document the design of your business processes, workflows within each strategic function. Identify areas for improvement, obsolescence or automation.

Reporting: Identify by strategic function, a list of frequently used reports, their structure, format, and filters. Create a first draft of the Classifications you think you’ll need. Create a Monday ‘Board’ for Reporting and Analytics.

Data analysis: Decide what data is required where and why. Identify what static and transactional data is where and in what state, how accessible it is, and what format it’s in. Consider a data warehouse strategy.

Modeling: Identify the data, features, and configurations you need to underpin each workflow. Using a ‘sandbox’ with a minimum data set, try out and validate workflows and features. Identify, document and prioritize any gaps to be considered and addressed (requirements capture).

Planning: Document and plan a list of tasks to be undertaken in the ‘Build’ phase (the scope of work). Leave out the ‘Go live’ planning. This should be done with the users after they have completed training and testing (Build phase).

Ownership: Determine task owners and accountability.

Timescales: Approximate timelines, DON’T GUESS be realistic. You cannot rush this and you can’t guess the end date until timelines based upon the availability of Key users, the amount and complexity of what they have to do, and the speed at which they can work is absolutely clear.

You’ll refine and get close to an accurate plan in the ‘Build’ phase when you work with key users and stakeholders to estimate the due dates of their respective task lists.

Communicate the Vision: As this Blueprint phase concludes you should have a ‘first pass’ vision of the solution. Depending upon your situation you can use this to secure approval to proceed to the ‘Build phase’.

Preparing and communicating the vision and a summary of its key functions, how they are going to be achieved and what stakeholders (users) can expect when (and what is expected of them) should be done before the end of this phase.

You should tell everyone you keep an open door (and mind) to encourage feedback.

The objective of the Build phase is to set up the ‘go live’ system, train the users and perform testing. You’ll complete your detailed plan with due dates and costs.

Assign key user tasks: By now the key users should be firmly (and enthusiastically) engaged and have a clear vision of what each function of, and the overall the solution is going to look like.

Based upon their ownership, accountability or relationship with the strategic functions you should explain and assign ‘Build’ tasks from the scope of work to each key user.

Get key users and stakeholders to estimate due dates: The project leader should work with each key user and review their list of tasks and dependencies to get them to forecast a date they are comfortable with delivering their part of the solution by.

Make sure you include delivery timelines for any customization, deliveries of Barcode hardware and changes to the warehouse layouts and labeling.

Go live planning: You should start working with the key users on identifying the key tasks for the ‘go live’ transition.

Setup: This is an ordered sequence of tasks resulting in your Salesorder system being almost ready for operation. We provide setup instructions and a Monday template.

User training and testing, plus the migration of the dynamic and updated data still has to be done. To commence this workstream you’ll need a ‘go live’ instance of Salesorder.

Clone Sandbox: At an appropriate point in the build phase you should ask us to make a copy of your ‘go live’ instance. This can be used for training and experimentation.

Test plan: A test plan is a dynamic document. The more immersed you become in testing, the more you will discover needs testing. Use the workflow/process description documented in the Blueprint phase to design the test plan.

Training plan: Two types of users, key and the ‘rest’. The key users should write the training plans. The training plans should align with the test plans for each strategic function. The training should be a joint delivery.

Milestone plan: Bring all of the tasks and their respective timelines together into a single timeline. Communicate the plan and milestones to all stakeholders.

Training: Deliver training to users

Testing: Complete test plan

Create and agree go-live plan: Finalise a detailed task list with the time and resources required to go from where you are now to live.

Your users should know enough about the new system to give practical and detailed input about what detail from their perspective should be in the list of tasks and who does what in which order in the cut-over.

Decide a go-live date: A date your teams will start entering transactions and new data into your new system.

Your go-live plan, resource availability and awareness of upcoming events that might get in the way and time to complete task detail will determine your live date. Be realistic.

Dynamic and updated data migration: You’ve got to create a baseline/start line from which you can start operating with the new system. This means you need to bring the data in the ‘go live’ system up to date.

There are two categories of data to be updated, accounting and master data, specifically:

  • open purchase and sales orders, open purchase and sales invoices, any other open accounting transactions that affect the AR and AP
  • opening balances for the P&L and Balance sheet
  • stock levels – free and on hand
  • new customer and supplier master data

Support, feedback and exception handling: This is a mission-critical application. There will be teething problems. Users will spot opportunities. Unforeseen issues will emerge. You need to be prepared.

Together we will determine points of contact, support windows and the process to report and if necessary escalate challenges. The decision as to who the master administrator should have emerged by now.

The ‘Master admin will be the key contact between Salesorder support and your business. Communicate the process and its stakeholders to all of your users.

Master Admin processes: We’ll work with your Master Admin to help them with day to day user management. We’ll agree on the support processes and Salesorder points of contact.

Review meetings: We’ll agree on a consistent and recurring review meeting to monitor how things are progressing and identify new tasks to address gaps in functionality and skills.

Conclusion

Your success is our success, our vision is you will still be our customer in ten years’ time. We’re both investing in a long term relationship, and together we are building a mission-critical foundation for your business.

A data and automation platform to support the long term growth and future prospects of your business.

The Blueprint, Build and Run journey involves hundreds of decisions and a significant investment in the time and costs of key people on both sides. Thoroughness, diligence, and pragmatism are essential.

Adherence to the accuracy of costs and timescales is critical. Overruns do happen. Logical and clear explanations justifying these are paramount.

Technology constantly presents unforeseen opportunities and challenges. So be prepared!

Return on your investment is the overriding objective. Every change has a cost. So before making any changes, take a hard look at the impact on productivity and calculate the returns.

Call to action

Make notes and ask us questions about this guide. We have over ten years experience doing this, we are here to help you succeed.

Continuous improvement in our approach and your operations is key to your and our success. We’re excited about working with you.

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