Enterprise Software Modernisation – Blending Strategy, Culture and Technology

 In Digital Transformation, Lindsey Phillips, Matthew Fahey

The findings of a recent Gartner ICT reportshowed that an average of 41% of respondents indicated that upgrading or extending the capabilities of their core enterprise applications was one of the current top five short-term IT priorities.

Modernisation, replacement or extending core applications requires a decision process and methodology which reflects the culture and uniqueness of the organisation. It is imperative that an organisation balances the right level of investment against risk; and internal capability against the Vendor’s ability.

Our Digital Transformation team’s main focus is on the solution and not the technology. Through each stage of the project life-cycle we ensure that the solution is aligned to our clients’ current and future business requirements and also identifies and addresses the technology’s short-comings.

Drivers of technology modernisation

Over the last few years, we have observed the three most common drivers of enterprise modernisation with our clients to be:

  1. Ageing technologies creating business process challenges;
  2. The need to reduce operating expenses by internal agility and efficiencies; and
  3. A new strategic / corporate direction.

Ageing enterprise business solutions place an organisation under duress, which hinders the progress of innovative new business practices and processes. This is often coupled with infrastructure that compromises the reliability and efficiency of an organisation’s business critical applications.

As part of the evaluation of a technology, organisations must assess the return on investment for each major project. Whilst this does not have to be purely quantitative in nature, the organisation must be clear on the outcomes that are mandatory and that these are measured where possible.

Over recent times, Churchill has found that many of our clients have also reviewed their organisation structures and business models during this type of key strategic initiative. In assessing the business holistically, an organisation will inevitably be forced to address certain aspects of their technology architecture to ensure the cohesion of information across business units. Therefore, organisations should be mindful to make provisions for such infrastructure upgrades in the initial planning and budgeting phase of such modernisation initiatives.

Key considerations

There are many questions an organisation must ask themselves when assessing a technology modernisation program.

The evidence

In 2012 the World Economic Forum and INSEAD co-released a report2 which predicted that 2016 would be the year that saw heavy customisation of on-premise ERP implementations, rather than system replacements. In 2017 we are observing organisations accelerating their modernisation initiatives through the implementation of an array of cloud based applications. These initiatives have generated significant return on our clients’ investment across the following solution types: ERP; CRM; HRM; and Asset and Document Management systems.

Enterprise technologies are advancing faster than an organisation’s ability to complete an implementation, outstripping vendors’ ability to successfully keep pace with technology driven change.

Despite this, we still see organisations taking a position that the selection and implementation of technology is no “big deal”, which can be delegated to the IT department, or worse, the system integrator.

Some of the largest implementation failures occur due to a misalignment between the business needs, processes and structure of the organisation with the selected partner and solution. This has seen organisations suffer significant issues, ranging from an interruption to business as usual, a loss in productivity with most unable to realise the new solutions benefits.

The first step towards implementation success is selecting the right solution and partner.

Selecting the right partner

Selecting enterprise software doesn’t need to be confusing, time-consuming and complex. Marketing noise produced by the thousands of emerging cloud, mobile, and big data carriers are leaving many organisations overwhelmed by the thought of updating their systems. Before an organisation commences, it must look inwards before looking outwards, meaning:

Updating your current enterprise solution is a significant project; with a material investment required in order to get it right. However, if an organisation invests in an evaluation and selection process adequately, the organisation will mitigate many of the risks associated with failed implementations.

So what to look for in an external advisor and project partner?

  • Functional awareness and demonstrable understanding of the organisations challenge.;
  • A track record of independence from Vendor(s) and Implementation partner(s);
  • A transparent approach that builds engagement whilst only committing the organisation to an appropriate level for the work and effort completed;
  • An ability to maximise the organisations internal capability coupled with a collaborative partnering style;
  • The right cultural fit for your organisation that drives accountability and performance;
  • An ability and capacity to provide strong support to upper management and the internal project team members, and
  • An approach that includes pre-emptive risk identification to remove future roadblocks thereby limiting an impact to the critical path.

Why choose Churchill Consulting?

Churchill helps its clients address these challenges and to capitalise on the inherent opportunities, by identifying and solving their most critical information and technology needs. We have a proven track record with improving an organisation’s relationship between information, technology, and the business to support the achievement of an organisation’s strategic objectives through the following services:

  • Advisory, analytics and data visualisation
  • Selection and implementation of enterprise software solutions
  • Technology advisory
  • Enterprise information management

To learn more, visit our Digital Transformation service page.

Meet the authors


Matt Fahey, Director

Matthew Fahey is a Director at Churchill Consulting who specialises in organisational strategic change and leads the Digital Transformation service line.

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Stuart Hestelow, Senior Manager

Stuart Hestelow is a Senior Manager at Churchill Consulting, with over 10 years of consultancy experience as a leading business and technology professional.

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Lindsey Phillips, Manager

Lindsey Phillips is a Manager in our Digitial Transformation team who has over twenty years industry and consulting experience.

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  1. Stamford, Conn, ‘Gartner Says Modernization and Digital Transformation Projects Are Behind Growth in Enterprise Application Software Market’ Gartner Newsroom, published online on 27 August 2015
  2. 2 Dutta, Soumitra Dutta and Bilbao-Osorio, Beñat, ‘The Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World’. Published by World Economic Forum,and INSEAD, December 2012

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