Process is the Key
There is a significant difference between buying and installing a system and revitalizing a process through an implementation. In the past, the focus was typically on “configuring” the system to function within the existing environment.
Perhaps the best way to describe this approach is that “something always had to give.” Some expectations were met, some were partially met, and others abandoned entirely as the software’s limitations took their toll on efficiency and forward momentum. Much like a balloon struggling to clear a mountaintop, the closer the ground (or in this case, the deadline) became, the more had to be jettisoned.
In contrast, the best cloud-based implementations achieve their final product from enhanced processes as defined by those who know them. The system isn’t imposed on the process—the process builds the system. And to repeat; there should be opportunity for incremental enhancement.
The most successful cloud-based implementations have one concept in common—partnership. The concept of shared risk and success should hold sway in your deliberations.
A vendor that delivers a software package and soon departs avoids the most important part of the implementation—the point where the system and processes are refined and enhanced. Companies who see your success as their own—and are willing to stick around for the results to come in—are by far the better choice.
Here we’d like to introduce a caveat: when discussing what constitutes success in these terms, language can become difficult. Core phrases such as “best practice,” “workflow,” and even the term “partnership” itself can sound hackneyed after the fourth software demo. What’s worse, these buzzwords can be self-serving, constraining customer deliverables to ensure the successful “fit” of the pre-defined product.
Let’s take “best practice” as an example. When accurately defining this term, there’s actually a question of whether you are imposing from the outside in, or building from the inside out.
Depending on which angle you consider, there can be two completely different definitions: In the first example, best practice is a way of standardizing usage according the norm and across institutions—some of whom may be your competitors. In the second definition, best practice becomes more specifically aligned with your institutional needs. As your processes are articulated and enhanced by the system, not constrained.