- The core of an E/CTRM system includes everything needed to operate on a day-to-day basis (out-of-the-box software, business and support processes, applications and integrated systems).
- Take certain steps to ensure a healthy system core from the start, applying best practices at each stage. Otherwise, the system will fail to align with Business and IT strategy and won’t produce the desired return on investment (ROI).
- Once your system has gone live, performing regular core health checks is important for maintaining system performance, resolving issues before they escalate, identifying opportunities for enhancement, and enabling future scalability. It’s all about a proactive mindset.
An investment in an E/CTRM system is significant. To extract the highest ROI, you’ll need to periodically assess the core to ensure that your system works in the optimal way for you.
You’re likely already checking in on your system at some level. The purpose of this discussion is to help you better focus your efforts and identify any critical steps that you may have been missing.
What’s the core of an E/CTRM system?
The “core” is everything you need to operate your system on a day-to-day basis, such as:
- The out-of-the-box E/CTRM software
- The business and support processes you build into and around the software
- Master Data
- Integrated systems
All these components impact what you do, when you do it, and how the system behaves in the process.
How to ensure a healthy system core from the start
During the initial phase, designing and implementing E/CTRM systems is a bit like putting together a puzzle. Applying best practices at each stage prevents a couple core pieces here and there from falling out of order, and preserves performance into the future.
If you haven’t yet implemented your E/CTRM system but are thinking about how to best set your company up for success and avoid continual problems, here are some steps you can take to start off with a healthy system core.
- Select an E/CTRM system that works well for the needs of the current and future business strategy.
- Ask the right questions about the business and how it functions, early on. The right questions are so important because it means that, ultimately, the system will more accurately and comprehensively address business needs. In asking these questions, speak with stakeholders, but also engage with the people who will be the end users. Seek to understand pain points in their day-to-day work and identify inefficiencies. Of course, you’ll also want to identify what’s working well and carry those positives forward.
- Implement as much out-of-the-box functionality as possible . Reducing your reliance on customizations can lessen complexity along with initial implementation costs and time. It can also enable you to complete vendor upgrades more quickly and seamlessly, without significant interruptions in day to day operations.
- Design the customization such that it can be evolved as business needs evolve. Any functionality that is customized should be extendable and not limiting. Integration should be designed such that it can seamlessly extend as needed.
- Gather reference data and align it with industry standards in order to have seamless integration and standardization.
- Understand existing processes to define new business processes, and build consensus on what those will look like in the system.
- Define day-to-day support for the system. Identify tasks will be automated versus managed manually by personnel.
- Vet the security structure. This involves defining roles and responsibilities, confirming who “owns” what information, and granting role and permissions accordingly.
- Assess system architecture for resiliency and robustness, and to minimize potential points of failure. Ask yourself questions such as: How many technologies does the system use, and is there a means of consolidation? Is it possible to allow fewer groups or individuals to have responsibilities within the system?
Why is a healthy core—and a regular core health check—so important
Once your E/CTRM system has gone live, you should give it a core health check at least every 18 months to two years. After all, implementing such a system isn’t a one-time effort—it’s an ongoing initiative to keep the system stable and functioning well, and even identify opportunities for enhancement.
A core health check on your system can help you decide whether your system:
- Operates as well as it did when it first launched
- Performs in alignment with your expectations
- Maintains standardized data
- Mitigates the frequency of support issues involving data quality or system configuration
- Enables you to scale up and add new business efficiently
Regular health checks give you a constant feedback loop and enable you to address potential issues as early as possible. It’s a shift from a reactive to a proactive mindset.
A healthy system core is so important because:
- Operational efficiency, revenue, and company reputation are all on the line.
- Company leaders and system users need to be able to rely on their system and the insight they glean from it to help them make the right choices for the organization.
- Getting the core right enables companies to easily extend capabilities and scale up and down. You’ll be better set for the future of the business—and won’t have to keep going back and spending time and money to clean up the system repeatedly.
Many of our customers have enjoyed excellent results with their E/CTRM systems and higher ROI by adopting these practices.
With all this mind, we encourage you to take another look at your E/CTRM system. Consider how well it performs and where it’s falling short. Are there any key pieces of a core health check that you’re missing?