Linking Best Practices with Technology Implementation ROI

Answerthink upgrades repository of industry practices to help companies speed IT deployments, increase return from transformation initiatives

Answerthink upgrades repository of industry practices to help companies speed IT deployments, increase return from transformation initiatives

Miami  June 10, 2005  Business and technology consulting firm Answerthink this week took the wraps off updates to its Best Practices Implementation (BPI) knowledge repository, a toolset designed to enhance business performance and return on investment (ROI) from enterprise-wide transformation initiatives by integrating best practices and performance metrics from The Hackett Group, a business process advisory firm.

The BPI knowledge repository contains enterprise resource planning (ERP) software configuration guides, best practice process flows, best practice descriptions and other tools and content that enable Answerthink to correlate best practices at leading companies to configuration decisions in the implementation of leading applications from Lawson, Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP and others. In addition, BPI details the benefits, implementation risks and key technology enablers associated with the adoption of individual best practices.

The BPI enhancements expand its scope of Hackett-Certified Practices in finance, information technology (IT), human resources (HR), procurement and other key operations areas. End-to-end process designs have been added in procure-to-pay, order-to-cash and planning and performance management.

Williams Company Speeds ERP Implementation

Answerthink said that the flexibility of BPI has significantly increased, with a new data structure that enables more sophisticated searches, including searches keyed to specific Hackett process taxonomy elements, best practice themes and the applicability of best practices to specific industries. Finally, BPI has been redesigned to enable extending access of certain content directly to clients.

Don Chappel, chief financial officer of The Williams Companies, a $12.6 billion producer, processor and transporter of natural gas, said that Answerthink helped his company to speed the initial stages of its Oracle implementation.

"Answerthink helped us understand the direct correlation between Hackett's benchmark findings and the configuration decisions we were making in Oracle," said Chappel. "BPI helped us keep a demanding schedule, and move from a go decision to implementation in less than eight months. We believe we cut two months off the configuration design process alone."

Benefits of Being World-class

Since BPI was formally launched in early 2003, Answerthink estimates that it has reduced overall implementation time and helped clients generate greater value from their enterprise transformation and technology initiatives.

Hackett's research shows that companies that achieve world-class performance levels in key operational areas see an array of benefits tied to improved efficiency and effectiveness. For example, in finance, world-class organizations spend 31 percent less than typical companies and operate with about half the staff, while closing their books more quickly each month and reaping significant gains through reductions in areas such as effective tax rates and days sales outstanding.

Elsewhere, in IT, Hackett's research shows that world-class organizations execute projects on time, on budget and to specification 34 percent more often than typical companies, while spending less and operating with fewer staff.

Relying on Empirical Data

Allan Frank, Answerthink president and chief technology officer, as well as senior Hackett fellow, said that his firm has used BPI to help companies cut implementation times and make smarter design decisions in their enterprise technology initiatives, enabling higher levels of return on investment (ROI) more quickly.

"By using empirical data and proven best practices from The Hackett Group as the foundation of their enterprise transformation and technology initiatives, companies know they're starting with proven strategies and practices that have demonstrated their value at the world's most successful companies," Frank said.

Frank said that the latest upgrades to the offering have made BPI easier to use and will allow clients to access and learn from it directly. "In addition, the focus on key end-to-end processes better enables us to optimize and streamline business activities regardless of how they're split up between different departments or functional organizations," Frank said.

More Best Practices and Tools, Better Access

As part of the BPI enhancements, Answerthink said it reviewed, revised and expanded best practices in 13 process areas. The number of best practices in the knowledge base was increased by almost 30 percent, and more tools are now available within the knowledge repository as well, according to the consultancy. Answerthink said that these application-specific tools, including implementation and configuration guides, current state questionnaires, process flows and fit/gap requirements matrices, enable the firm's consultants to link Hackett-Certified Practices to technology implementation solutions.

The improved process flows contained within BPI focus on end-to-end processes in three key areas  procure-to-pay, order-to-cash, and planning and performance management. These enable Answerthink consultants to optimize processes despite the fact that responsibility for them crosses functional boundaries within an organization, such as the shared responsibility of procurement and finance for accounts payable, according to the consultancy.

The structure and search capabilities of the BPI knowledge base have also been updated to make it easier to find the best practices that are most relevant to a specific company or client engagement. Best practices can be searched individually using Hackett's process taxonomies. Best practices and tools can also be identified by industry applicability and by their relevancy to one or more of 13 themes, such as alignment to strategy, quality improvements, managing risk and increasing customer satisfaction. Finally, an external mode has been added to BPI, enabling client direct access to large portions of the knowledge base so that they can explore best practices that might be most relevant to their organization.

The Hackett Group is an advisory service that offers analysis and insight backed by metrics derived from 3,300 benchmark studies over 13 years by almost 2,000 of the world's leading companies, including 93 percent of the Dow Jones Industrials.

Additional Articles of Interest

 Companies with advanced sourcing and procurement strategies are using spend analysis tools to drive bottom-line savings. Now it's time to take spend analytics to the next level. Read more in "Supercharging Spend Analytics," in the April/May 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

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