EA publishes the first of an “Expert Insights” series. Richard Lawler and a Successful SaaS Implementation.

Richard Lawler, a Principal at EA, has led a number of projects where companies have made the migration from an on-premise solution to a SaaS solution.   So he was asked this question:

Based on everything you (and your clients!) have learned, what would you say are the major success factors in a project like this?

Richard’s answer:

I would say that there are several critical success factors that really need to be in place during the whole life cycle of these SaaS deployment projects. Here are the big ones:

  • Harmonize as much as possible. This will significantly reduce the complexity of the implementation as well as on-going support. Key focus areas are:
    • Consistent policies and practices for compensation, benefits, performance management, pay practices, integrations
    • Standardized business processes. Organizational variations are allowed but this complicates the implementation, on-going support and release testing that occurs multiple times per year.
    • Documented integration points. Integrations are very complex and will need much more time than anticipated. The integrations must be fully understood to ensure the necessary data is collected and translated properly.
    • Focus on reporting and analytics prior to go-live. Reporting and analytics are often treated as something to be focused on after go-live. What is needed prior to the implementation is an understanding of the desired reporting / analytics and the data that will be necessary to support those needs. Furthermore this information much be included during business process review to be sure that data is collected, consistent in definition and available to the reporting/analytics engine.
  • Develop a strong change management plan. This needs to be in place at the very early stages of the project, and ongoing throughout the project. An effective Change Management Plan includes representation from a.) executives that can drive change through the organization and b.) the people closest to the end user population, from each site.
  • Establish core project team representation from each location. The core project team must have representatives from each site who have s a thorough and detailed understanding of local policies, practices and business processes. This is especially important to understand pay practices and benefits rules that may be governed by collective bargaining agreements.