Modernization: "To Wait or Not To Wait" – That Is The Question!

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In a recent steering committee meeting with one of our clients, one of the key client sponsors brought up the question of whether they should have waited to fully understand the requirements, business and all technical implications at an enterprise level of their modernization effort or start the effort piecemeal based on core requirements and add key components as they went along.

This is a dilemma many CXOs face today.  In the case above, the initiative was started as soon as core requirements were defined because the business stakeholders had very tight deadlines on making key announcements about launching the system based on commitments they had made to their end customers.  These deadlines also had major financial implications.  This put the CIO and his team under pressure to deliver a high quality system in a very contained and defined timeline with very little margin of error.  This also meant that there was enough time to define the core functional/ non-functional requirements but the project could not afford to wait for a full blown assessment of the entire enterprise landscape and implications of that assessment before actually starting to build the actual system.

In general, I would usually recommend solid advanced planning (6-9 months in advance) and an assessment to fully define the scope of the modernization effort with questions such as:

  • What business processes will need to be redefined as part of this effort and what will the financial implications be?
  • Which functional business divisions will be impacted by this change? (If applicable)
  • Is there buy-in and alignment from key business and IT stakeholders on the scope of modernization and timelines?
  • Will we need to integrate the application to downstream systems such as ERP or CRM
  • Will the current state systems need to be replaced or run in parallel and how much of it will we need to leverage?
  • Will there be a new system of record?
  • Do we have the resources or expertise to support the new system within the time-constraints defined by the business?

These are just a sample of questions that should be asked among many others. 

If advanced planning and assessments are conducted, then a modernization effort will not risk being in a situation where the team has to choose between a quick start without full consideration of ALL factors upfront, risking the scope and possible quality of the project, vs. waiting to plan for all the details late but risking the core timelines based on a very late start accommodating the late planning.

In either scenario, it is important to have a strong project team that can work with you as a partner and help reduce the risk through strong project delivery governance, project management best practices, strong architecture and design guidelines and frameworks, technology accelerators, attention to detail and quality and a strong team to build, test and deploy the system(s).  In today’s digital ecosystem, the business and technology landscape changes constantly and therefore, sometimes even the best planning may result in unforeseen changes and adjustment.  An experienced project team can help mitigate these risks and deliver successfully.

Post Date: 10/10/2014

Shamlan Siddiqi - NTT DATA Shamlan Siddiqi

About the author

Shamlan Siddiqi is CTO for NTT DATA's Public Sector Business Unit. Previously, Shamlan successfully lead the Digital Experience Practice in both top line and bottom line growth year over year and against AOP. He is a results-oriented leader with an extensive track record developing and leading the implementation of innovative solutions and strategies and building and motivating high-performance teams. He is a published author and speaker, and holds a Master’s degree from the George Washington University.

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