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Why less is better for digital transformation

March 1, 2019   by Jason Contant

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Companies looking to undergo a digital transformation should follow the expression “more is not always better” when it comes to selecting system integrators and vendors, a speaker said Wednesday at the Technology Conference in Toronto.

During the transformation process, some companies may decide to have multiple different advisors or implementation partners, noted Firas Al Osman, a senior manager in Deloitte Canada’s technology consulting practice.

“What I’ve seen being more successful is selecting a single system integrator that can help you across people, process and technology,” he said during the session Best Practices for Digital Transformation. “The pitfalls of not doing that are you don’t have a single neck to choke and that’s actually a huge challenge.”

While undergoing a transformation, it’s important to consider the minimum viable product (MVP) and how vendors play into this. “I’d go as far as saying limit the number of vendors you have from a technology and solution perspective because you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” Al Osman said. “I’ve seen it time and time again, where it becomes very challenging to try to manage the vendor, get them to commit to timelines and get them to commit to cost. Think about how you stagger your implementation and stagger the number of vendors you have to manage.”

Al Osman does recommend engaging vendors early on. “Of course, you have to make sure they are part of the process, so make sure they are true partners and [you’re] not just treating them as a vendor is an important aspect.”

There is also a case to be made for choosing multiple vendors. “The simple fact of the matter is, it’s hard to be the best at everything,” said a blog from Cimpl, which offers a software-as-a-service platform. “An integrated solution might be fantastic overall, but not every component module is going to be best-of-breed. That’s why many businesses cobble together solutions that take individual components from separate vendors.”

Another benefit of multi-sourcing is that the risk is reduced. “A company is not fully dependent upon a single outsourcing provider for everything,” said Romexsoft, a Java application development company. “If one part of a project goes awry, that one vendor can be replaced far easier than finding another vendor for a multi-faceted project.”

For digital transformation, it’s also important to build the right team, Al Osman said. “I’ve seen organizations who just grab whoever’s available, but that’s just not going to work,” he said. “You can have the best solution, you can have the best technology, but if you don’t have the right people implementing it, it’s not going to go well.” The whole gamut – from program sponsor to delivery lead, and more – needs to be properly selected.

Aside from the people aspect, sometimes systems are built that may not be aligned to what customer needs have become, noted Tyler Lanoway, director of strategic initiatives with Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company. “They are very functional, but they may not have had the right user experience or what the broker or customer is looking for at the end of the day.”

Wawanesa engages brokers throughout the product delivery cycles. The company also sends some product prototypes to consumers to see if they like the product. “[We ask], ‘Would you actually want to use it?’ and they say, ‘No,’ and they’ve given us some good feedback,” Lanoway said. “We’ve had to incorporate that into our overall delivery.”