How to Transform Core Systems

Preparing for a transformation of core systems isn't complicated. Some ideas are a bit contrarian, but most are common sense.

In my previous blog post, we looked at signs you might not be ready for a core systems transformation. In this post, we’ll look at some ideas for how to be better prepared for one. These ideas aren’t complicated, and, while a few are a bit contrarian, most are common sense. In no particular order, here are some of the items that should be on your checklist: --While you certainly want to increase the ROI of your core systems transformation by leveraging it to optimize your business processes, don’t feel compelled to transform your entire business at the same time! When “modern” (non-legacy) core systems first came to the market, the advice to carriers was that transforming your business before embarking on a core systems transformation was key to getting business value from the new system. In recent years, many carriers have tried to perform business transformations and core systems transformations in parallel to achieve the same results at a faster pace, often because legacy systems were approaching end-of-life and time was of the essence. However, with modern core systems now becoming increasingly configurable and flexible, implementing a new system first, quickly followed by business process optimization, may be a way to reduce risk without a huge cost difference. To be clear, this approach does add to the overall cost, but the amount of risk reduction (both from replacing an aging system sooner and by reducing the risk of failure) often makes this a trade-off that is more than fair. The key, however, is to not permanently repave the cow path. Implement the new system and then quickly make the changes needed — perhaps even before you “flip the switch” to go live, or else you run the risk of not realizing the value of the new system. See also: Pursue Innovation or Transformation? --Select the right partner! Yes, select a partner…not a vendor. No solution is right for every carrier. Understanding which solutions and partners —including those solution providers as well as integrators and other partners that will best fit your size, your type of business, your IT capabilities (and many other parameters) is critical to a successful systems and business transformation. Depending on your size and selected solution, you will need to consider their implementation capabilities and whether you will leverage your solution partner or theirs. Perhaps even more importantly, you’ll want to treat your selected partners as, well, partners! If you work together towards a common goal and with all parties aligned for success, the odds of a successful transformation go up dramatically. --Consider your digital strategy before you make big decisions. If you are going to replace your legacy systems with a modern system (or if you’re implementing a modern system using a greenfield approach), you’ll likely find yourself in a strong position to provide a digital experience that’s far better than one supported by your legacy systems. Digital is much more than online capabilities and portals, though, and requires a digital platform to connect the outside world to your inside world to ensure a multi-channel and omni-channel experience that meets today’s and tomorrow’s customer and channel expectations. If you plan your digital strategy up front, you can make better decisions about what capabilities your new system needs to provide. --Plan for enough dedicated resources to support your implementation—but not too many! While you’ll need to dedicate a sizeable team to the effort, you won’t need—or want—to leverage all of them at once. Plan for resources to be on the program for as long as they’re needed, but no longer than that. For example, you may want developers to be available for training, starting a couple of months before implementation begins, but you may not need them to participate in the requirements-gathering process. Having too many resources on board can quickly burn through budget and underutilize resources. --Don’t underestimate the importance of estimating. While your solution partner will provide estimates for itsa slices of the effort, the most expensive part of the effort will most likely be your internal costs. This means that one of the most important components of your successful systems replacement effort will be your estimation of your organization’s piece of the work. If you haven’t undertaken an effort like this in the past, spend time with your partner’s references and compare their capabilities to understand the effort your organization will need to undertake to transform your business through the implementation of your chosen system. Then, plan for a fair amount of contingency. See also: 4 Rules for Digital Transformation   --Plan ahead for challenges. While you can’t know what problems you’ll face, you can plan for how to deal with problems in general — as well as prepare for some of the most common challenges. Preparing for problems in general might entail ensuring that a strong governance process is in place ahead of time. Part of that governance should include escalation procedures to allow problems to be solved rather than to allow for unproductive (and stressful) finger-pointing. Preparing might also include leveraging iterative, agile-like approaches to better allow for changes of all kinds to be adapted to “on the fly” without causing major hiccups in the program plan. Preparing for the most common problems could involve working with your selected vendor’s past clients to see where problems occurred and thinking about how to address those up front — or by developing a mitigation plan for those specific issues. For more on this, see our previous blog post on this topic (10 Signs You’re Not Ready). Every organization is unique, and there is no cookie-cutter approach to making your transformation the best transformation ever. An organizational readiness assessment, however, is an excellent pre-transformation tool that can help you develop a well thought-out plan. Whether you are ready for transformation or not, familiarizing yourself with the steps and challenges ahead will help you anticipate what your organization can expect. Additionally, a trusted partner or consultant can give you glimpses of your future through the real-life stories of companies that have already walked down the transformation path.

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