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On the road to change – Tips from Mereo

photo credit: iStockphoto.com/shark_749

 

Embarking on the integration of a software solution is a real challenge for companies. In addition to being a technical issue, the use of a new system will disrupt the habits of many teams with sometimes different objectives. The success of such a project depends on both the quality of technical execution and on its inclusion in business processes. It is therefore important to consider the different facets (technical, operational, organizational) of this transformation.

 

Based on our 20 years of experience, we make the following observation: the projects that get bogged down are often those that put technology front and center without giving enough importance to the human angle. This is why, at Mereo, we place all the aspects of change management at the heart of our approach.

Naturally, each experience is unique and there is no magic formula. Over the course of the projects that we have accompanied, certain elements have however stood out as essential to guarantee a successful implementation. We invite you to discover our recommendations.

1. Immediate boarding!

Any implementation worthy of the name begins with a phase of business requirement formalization. This presents a double challenge: that of designing the future solution but also involving the teams in the project.

IT systems are at the crossroads of multiple departments and often have different impacts on each team. To get a 360° overview of the requirements, it is essential to integrate all the parties into the decision-making process: collect their problems and understand their challenges, answer their questions and have a clear understanding of the underlying impacts.
This step has several positive effects:

  • Collaboration between departments ensures that all issues and needs are integrated into the project, including implicit ones that may have been otherwise overlooked
  • Involving all the parties in the process leads to a better understanding of the solution, thus boosting collective support

One of the keys to success lies in a strong cooperation between operational teams and management to embody change and take ownership of new KPIs and processes.

This first step can involve many players with various roles, some of which don’t communicate naturally with one another. At Mereo, when we implement our optimization solutions, we take care to collect all the requirements at each level of the organization so that they are understood by everyone and reflected in the target system. We multiply inter-team workshops and use non-violent communication methods that make exchanges more fluid, stimulate cooperation and bring out creativity.

2. Think of the environment

When designing a new system, consider its place in your ecosystem. It may seem obvious, but many solutions are not fully utilized due to insufficient integration or because business processes have not been taken into account. The risk here is that your system is only partially used and that it does not fulfill its role of automating and streamlining processes.

The most common shortcomings include:

  • The manual entry of redundant information in different tools. This is a source of error and wastes precious time for your teams.
  • Unexpected side effects on other systems, forcing you to rethink certain connections (system interoperability).
  • The impossibility of automating certain actions because they are not all carried out by the same teams or with the same tools.

To promote the full use of the system, remember to design the overall target architecture of your ecosystem. Outline the scope of responsibility of the different solutions in order to avoid overlaps and gray areas. Describe the data flow between your different systems: when is information exchanged, in which direction, what are the expected formats? Also consider the traceability of data throughout the processing chain. Define precisely the use cases of the solution: who intervenes when and where? who needs the information?

Keep in mind that a company’s ecosystem is always in motion: IT development must therefore be done with consideration to the impacts on other systems as well as the synergies and opportunities for continuous improvement of the overall ecosystem.

3. Data quality: top priority!

You have successfully formalized the requirements? Your new software is designed to be fully integrated into your ecosystem? You are on the right track, but there is still work to be done!
Another element must be taken into account to guarantee an effective use of the tool: the quality of the data.

You can implement the most complete solution, but if the data is not correct, you face an increased risk of inconsistencies throughout the ecosystem. With erroneous KPIs, users get a biased view of reality and therefore may be led to make bad decisions for your business. This can seriously impact operations across the entire value chain. In these circumstances, users may lose confidence in the tool and go so far as not to use it anymore. Considerable effort and energy may then be required to remedy the situation.

There are several types of data to check:

  • Input data, i.e. data that feeds into the system
  • Information entered by users directly in the software
  • Data generated by the solution, which is disseminated throughout the ecosystem and serves to provide KPIs on which decisions are based

For example, when implementing our (D)OOH booking system, Price & Place, the input data consists of inventory and customer information received from the CRM. This data is used to create campaigns in Price & Place, which are then exported to the content management and broadcasting system.

At Mereo, no matter the project, the quality of your data is our priority!
We systematically analyze the input data (format, integrity, completeness, etc.) and correct it if necessary, using Mereo software components specifically designed for this purpose.
We also guarantee the integrity of the data produced by our solutions, starting from the design stage (user interface, automated database integrity checks, etc.), in order to limit the risk of errors during use. Finally, we ensure that the output data is consistent by performing cross-validations with other data sources.

4. Bet on the right co-pilot

Whether your project is carried out internally or whether you rely on a service provider, the success of an implementation greatly depends on the quality of the provided support.

The setup of an IT solution involves countless back and forths between different teams: each party must communicate and be reactive to prevent the project from getting bogged down. At the start of the project, the requirement formalization phase demands the coordination of everyone and in particular the operational teams. During the development and implementation stage, technical teams are particularly solicited. As deployment approaches, rigorous and organized testing phases ensure that the tool is compliant and meets the identified needs. Finally, user training is essential to promote ownership and buy-in.
Do not underestimate the time needed to complete such a project!

At Mereo, we take care to support our clients at each stage of the project: requirement formalization, design, technical integration, detailed documentation, testing. We also help our partners to get familiar with the system and integrate it into their existing operational processes through dedicated training sessions. Finally, we set up regular meetings with our clients’ teams to consolidate the adoption of the solution, and to keep it up-to-date based on their evolving business needs.
This support allows us to build lasting relationships with our clients and partners, some of whom have been trusting us for more than 20 years.

You now have the main ingredients to carry out your project. The rest is up to you!