A blank piece of paper is filled with opportunity. The opportunity to express feelings, thoughts, or pictures is possible with a blank piece of paper. Blank pieces of paper can also be shopping lists, invitations, maps or contracts. The possibilities are endless.
If you consider a Whiteboard as a piece of paper, and begin to think about your company goals and objectives, the current state of the infrastructure, the number of applications, data sources, workflow and processes you have, the possibilities of enhancing productivity while improving the infrastructure may also seem endless.
And though the goal of the Whiteboard Session is not to overwhelm with possibilities, we do wish to identify valuable options. We begin by engaging the customer’s team in formal discussions to identify the strategic layers of each organization: Business Strategy, Application, and Infrastructure/IT. Next, we provide a snap-shot of the current state of the systems and processes. Finally, we look for areas of improvement to reduce risk, enhance productivity, and align strategy and systems with the organization’s goals and objectives.
Each Whiteboard Session serves as the preface to the Technology Roadmap (TR). The TR is a 90-day, 1- and/or 3-year timeline for project implementation. [Link Reference to Previous Blog about TR.] The identified projects are the result of collaboration by the customer representatives at the Whiteboard Session. After agreeing on a timeframe for the projects, we document the project in a TR for project tracking and management.
Typically, we also discover a plethora of Excel spreadsheets in use. Because Excel spreadsheets are most often created by manually inputting data, or importing information from multiple datasets, silos of data become common place. Reconciling this information to reports created by others is nearly impossible as the datasets for the two reports may be different, and/or the search criteria may be different.
We also discover infrastructure opportunities for improvement. For instance, when considering hosted or cloud applications, the infrastructure must be configured to support the user base and the hosted application. Many of the customers we meet with today are not cloud-ready. We help them budget for changes to allow for cloud adoption.
In reviewing the data sources, we identify the data sources for ERP, Sales/CRM, Data Management, Data Imaging and Line-of-Business. We look for current and missing integration points between data sources, overlaps of data, and duplicate data entry processes. It is during this review where process improvement occurs. When automation of processes and reduction of manual data entry can be accomplished, costs are reduced. Creating a system that incorporates automated processes with sharing of information throughout the organization provides a streamlined approach to managing data sources.
Once the data sources are aligned, Business Intelligence (BI) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be mined. BI and KPIs are presented in real-time to decision makers as dashboards. Where previous information was individually and manually gathered and stored in Excel and/or Access, it is now stored in SQL databases. The SQL databases are accessible by all the users (with appropriate security) and data can be mined to provide real-time statistics.
Think of three key pieces of information that you wish you had each morning that would streamline your decision making process. As an example, for each of the roles below, the following information may allow for more informed decisions:
- Sales Manager: Total Pipeline per Rep / MTD & YTD Deals Closed / Activity Tracking\
- Warehouse Manager: Inventory on Hand / Number of Back Orders / Efficiency of Order Picking
- Production Supervisor: % of Scrap / Number of Lines Operational & Issues / Efficiency of Lines
- CFO/CEO: % Sales to YTD Goals / Safety Statistics / % Scrap to Revenue
In order to gain this valuable business information, the systems, applications, processes, data sources and infrastructure must be in sync. Through the Whiteboard Session, Pinnacle identifies, advises and assists in aligning customer’s business strategy with IT strategy to attain achievement of company goals and objectives.