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Implementation Readiness: Get ahead of your timeline before it starts

By Sara Lyons posted 09-25-2023 09:22

  

Implementation Readiness: Get ahead of your timeline before it starts

Everyone on Reltio Community has likely been involved in an MDM implementation in some capacity. Those who have not may very well be planning for one very soon. That also means that most of Reltio Community has experienced some kind of delay in an MDM implementation or is currently pondering how to avoid those delays.

The million-dollar question is, how do you prevent implementation delays from occurring, causing you to pull out your hair?

Better yet, is it possible to eliminate these problems before they even arise?

A few years ago, Reltio Professional Services asked the same question. We conducted research, talking to our internal team, Customers, and Partners. Analyzing past projects, we examined which ones went over budget and/or timeline, and what the causes were. We started to see a very common trend across projects that experienced delays. These delays ultimately forced Customers to wait longer to realize the value of the solution being implemented. We now refer to these as VALUE BLOCKERS. Below are the four value blockers that were continually reported as a risk or issue that caused project delays.
If you are interested in doing some of your own research, one of my favorite project management blogs is “rebelsguidetopm.com”. The author, Elizabeth Harrin, has one post titled “Why Do Projects Fail?” that provides some great examples of project failures, and a statement reading, “Technology was one of the least likely reasons for project failure.” This lines up with our analysis. The four value blockers above all have one thing in common: not being prepared, or readiness.

Once we had our value blockers defined, the team was able to develop a methodology to address these blockers head-on. We also challenged ourselves to think outside the box and deviate from some more traditional MDM implementation styles, like a waterfall approach and leaned into an agile methodology to find ways to show iterative and continuous value throughout an MDM implementation - something that historically has not been successfully done very often when implementing MDM. 

The Reltio Way Delivery Methodology is based on three pillars:

  1. Customer implementation readiness
  2. A framework of standardized and repeatable templates and processes to expedite implementation time
  3. Iterative value milestones to deliver continuous value and reduce overall time to value

This graphic is one of my favorite visualizations of the methodology.

I’ll revisit the second and third pillars in some upcoming blogs, but in this discussion, I want to focus on the readiness process. Looking at the four common value blockers, they all relate to readiness. To address these, we have created an Implementation Readiness Checklist. The goal is simple. We want to make sure that Customers are absolutely ready to execute an implementation successfully. To accomplish this Reltio Professional Services has started to become involved early on in sales discussions to begin walking Customers through this checklist well in advance of a project start date. As a Customer finalizes their subscription and partnership with Reltio, we will continue to review this with them, leading up to implementation. We may sometimes recommend holding off on kicking off a new project if the Customer is not 100% ready. We would rather see Customers take an extra 5 days to ensure a resource plan is confirmed, for example, before bringing on Reltio Professional Services or a Customer's Systems Integrator to begin burning unproductive and costly hours.
Some of the critical items that are reviewed as part of the readiness process include:
  1. Ensuring MDM requirements are identified and agreed upon by the Customer team (there is a standardized requirements to share if the Customer is stuck on this step)
  2. Ensuring the Customer has thought about the overall integration strategy and has tools and resources in place (if they are responsible for integration)
  3. Understanding what kind of approvals and turnaround time is required to obtain access to datasets to be loaded into Reltio
  4. Understanding and ensuring any required third-party agreements are in place with the Customer (could be applicable if the Customer is enriching data with Dun & Bradstreet or BVD, for example)

and more.

Below are some snippets of items we cover in the checklist, and actively track with Customers leading up to the implementation start date. Once the project team is engaged, this information is handed off to them, regardless of whether they are implementing with Reltio Professional Services, a Systems Integrator Partner, or by themselves.
A bonus about this checklist is that Customers can leverage it if they are not a brand-new Reltio Customer. Post MVP or Phase 1 projects often have a lot of overlapping prerequisites to starting as the very first phase. Prep work will likely take less time as Customers progress through multiple phases of implementing on their MDM journey, but a brief review of this checklist at the beginning of every phase, before you bring in the entire team, will ensure Customers have thought through their strategy and planning for every phase. This will enable them to move through implementations fast and mitigate risk all along the way.
I’ll end this by going back to some of the research I mentioned we did before developing The Reltio Way Delivery Methodology. One of the most dramatic examples I experienced firsthand was an implementation in which the timeline was extended by five months and the budget was exceeded by almost $220,000. In that example, the delays were traced back to a non-existent integration strategy and continuous delays in accessing data because of internal processes and approvals that the Customer did not research ahead of time. There is a good mix of roles here on Reltio Community but we can probably all agree that reporting up a $220,000 overage to your leadership is something everyone would like to avoid.

Reach out if you are a Customer who has not seen or not been given access to the Implementation Readiness Checklist and the other methodology assets. 

We will continue to share some more blogs on implementations and the methodology, so as always, in the comments share some of your implementation experiences and what you would like to hear more about when it comes to velocity packs, The Reltio Way Delivery Methodology, and keys to successful implementations.


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