In early 2022, Zone & Co acquired Fast Four. Please be aware that any prior mentions of Fast Four, including the content below, now pertain to the unified entity.
Implementing a new business management solution is a massive consideration for any business. Beyond the obvious financial spend, it requires the buy-in of multiple individuals and departments, along with a large investment of time to ensure a successful implementation or migration.
SuiteSuccess is a concept developed specifically to reduce the risk, and remove the frustrations of implementing an ERP solution, getting you to where you need to be, quicker. In this article, we look at what SuiteSuccess is, why it is particularly successful for scaling companies and what the process looks like in the short, medium and longer term.
From our years of experience, systems are normally implemented for one of three reasons, and more often than not, it is a combination of all three.
- To address significant pain(s) in the organisation which are impacting on efficiency and decision making.
- To facilitate the next phase of growth for the business by ensuring the correct tools, and reporting are available to drive change when required.
- For business leaders to invest in the organisational culture by formalising its approach, processes and behaviours to ensure long term success for the business, mainly driven by efficiency and visibility of key data.
So, with all of the above in mind - the system has to work. It has to add value and it has to make things easier for people to achieve what the organisation needs them to.
This is why, at Fast Four, along with the world’s leading Cloud based ERP solution, Oracle NetSuite, we implement SuiteSuccess, a combination of software and processes which ensure a consistent approach from our initial meeting, through system go-live, and future evolutions of your business and your systems.
What is SuiteSuccess?
SuiteSuccess is a very deliberate move away from a “traditional” software sales and implementation process. Based on 20+ years experience, and 40,000+ projects, SuiteSuccess tackles the most common issues experienced by customers migrating to a new software package.
Traditionally, suppliers provide tailored demonstrations of their solution based on requirements outlined by the prospective customer. If selected, implementation consultants, and often additional staff from the customer are introduced to implement a solution which they have not been involved in until that stage. So, the requirements are reviewed, discussed and planned again with different perspectives and expertise, often resulting in a creep of scope, or deviation from the initial plan at the very first stage of the implementation.
Even with the best intentions, many projects which follow a traditional approach can suffer from a few common issues, which, whilst justifiable for any number of reasons, can be summarised as: a project which costs more than planned, takes longer than expected and ultimately does not deliver against the key strategic requirements of the business outlined in the initial stages.
Combining software developed specifically to drive industry leading practices as part of a clearly defined, collaborative and documented approach, SuiteSuccess was designed to remove gaps in the process and deliver a solution which enables businesses to grow through efficiency and visibility of key data.
The key objectives of SuiteSuccess are:
- To reduce the time it takes to have a system in place, and live, which actually adds value to your business. Avoiding a lengthy, complicated and over-ambitious project, SuiteSuccess is built around the concept of a staircase. Taking the first step means implementing a solution which does not try to address every challenge, but instead focuses on the core challenges of key business functions. This reduces costs, accelerates the delivery of process improvements and key reports, and also ensures the system gradually expands and evolves to meet your business requirements, which themselves often evolve day-to-day.
- Ensure consistency and clarity throughout the entire journey, e.g. avoiding miscommunications, assumptions and errors between the sales, implementation, go-live and post go-live phases.
From your initial research, all the way through sales engagement, project implementation, go-live and post go-live, key individuals from each organisation and function are engaged collectively to follow a defined process in establishing, agreeing, documenting and delivering the key requirements of the project. Additional information on each stage is included later, however, this process includes an Business Discussion, Alignment Call, Phased Stairway Agreement and Leading Practice Implementation.
- To implement a solution which improves processes and visibility of data throughout your organisation based on leading industry practices.
Every business has their traits which make them unique - that’s the name of the game after all. However, just because your business is unique, it does not mean that every process has to be. SuiteSuccess includes hundreds of pre-defined processes and reports which have been developed to facilitate leading industry practices. This means that you gain massive advantages in processing and reporting across the board whilst taking time only to perfect areas of the system to tackle the things which make your business unique. It’s the best of both worlds.
So, why in particular does this work for businesses who are scaling?
In “Scaling Up”, Verne Harnish identifies four key components, based on the Rockefeller habits, which leaders must get right in order to successfully scale the business:
Having the right people on board, and engaged in the right places in your business.
Establishing and evolving a winning strategy, and communicating it effectively to those people in your organisation.
Ensuring all processes are running without drama, and earning industry leading profits.
Generating consistent sources of cash, preferably internally to drive the growth of the business.
Without completely oversimplifying the whole conversation, SuiteSuccess drives each of these four components, particularly, Strategy, Execution and Cash by driving efficiencies and providing visibility of key data.
‘Execution’ is optimised by ensuring that industry leading practices are implemented throughout the business, in order of priority based on the biggest pain points and current areas of inefficiency.
‘Strategy’ becomes clearer based on a real-time, complete view of your business performance. This empowers you to identify and address any underperforming functions, or equally to take advantage of a new opportunity or revenue stream based on actual data driven directly from your processes.
‘Cash’ is king! Whilst eliminating inefficiencies throughout the business should also impact positively on your margins and accounts receivable processes by proxy, the leading practices and pre-defined reports implemented in SuiteSuccess provide an unrivalled view of business performance and understanding of where cash is coming from and going to, allowing you again to make informed decisions based on real, live data.
What is Involved in the SuiteSuccess Process?
Main Takeaway - The Stairway
Let's not try to fix everything for the next five years in one go. Let’s look at what business functions (executions) are creating the largest pains, or are the biggest blockers to your strategic objectives in the immediate term. Understand how important they are, how far from perfect they are and what needs to be achieved in the immediate and longer term to accomplish your strategy.
By aligning the above throughout the entire business, we collaborate and build a phased plan based on five predefined steps to achieving the long term strategic aims of the business: Establish, Elevate, Expand, Accelerate & Dominate.
In short, focus on getting the basics right, quickly, and establish the system, processes and reports you need to build from there. E.g. implement a strong financial solution, inventory/service items, order processing, procurement authorisation processes, basic CRM for contact management, and build key reports and dashboards.
Following this, attention can turn to the next phases which continually improve execution and reporting throughout the business, building from a solid base with an engaged team.
Getting There - What to Expect when Engaging in a SuiteSuccess Project:
This does pretty much exactly what it says - initially carried out via a call and, if suitable, a second discussion face-to-face. This is an initial discussion around your business, your strategic aims, main pains and what you are looking for from implementing a new system.
This is an interactive session driven by a senior sales resource with many years business and systems experience. Combining relevant tools and documentation, we work with you to understand what is a priority for your business, what the best options are to achieve your goals.
A demonstration is not carried out at this point, instead the focus is to document where you are as a business just now, by department and function, where you want to be and what that will look like. Workflow diagrams of leading practices for critical processes (e.g. Sales Order Processing) are aso shared and discussed during the business discussion.
A range of supporting material is also shared, including a series of 3-5 minute videos which provide initial overviews of how the software manages specific business functions and roles based on leading practices. This allows your team to familiarise themselves with the look, feel and approach of the system without enduring a lengthy and complex demo.
The alignment call is one of the biggest differences in the process. Firstly, we introduce one of our technical consultants alongside our sales representatives at this stage. If selected, this ensures that there has been representation from the team who actually implement the solution prior to any decision being made - providing a much more consistent and technically led project from the outset.
Secondly, rather than tailoring the software to meet a specific step by step process requested, we instead demonstrate the solution applying predefined leading practices to the business functions and priorities outlined in the Business Discussion.
The advantage to this is that we are looking, together, for the best way to actually facilitate growth and improvements in your organisation. From our experience, understandably, and probably subconsciously, many businesses base their requirements on limitations, or frustrations with the existing systems or processes, rather than starting afresh to look at the best way to acheive the desired outcome. E.g. System X does not currently allow us to...we need to…, instead, the question should be, “how do we become best in class at…?” and this is what we tackle with the alignment call.
Any exceptions (processes which will not work for your business) are discussed, analysed and documented to ensure a suitable solution is found - still based on the leading practices but amended to support your specific business requirement.
In short, this approach optimises your business, streamline your implementation and training project, and develop or tailor the solution by exception, rather than creating bespoke processes for every function in your business.
Joint Execution Plan
Following the completion and documentation of the previous stages, a ‘Joint Execution Plan’ is devised and signed off by both teams to confirm what is included within the project, what is required for each stage and who is responsible for what. This is signed by both parties and becomes the key document for the implementation process.
Project Implementation & Go-Live
The system is configured by our expert team to meet all of the processes and requirements outlined in the Solution Blueprint and Joint Execution Plan. As you would expect, there are several project milestones and specific processes relating to system walkthroughs and end user training.
Once the initial ‘Establish’ phase of the project is complete and signed off, we continue to work with you to support your system and your team. In addition to the technical support of the system, we assign a growth consultant to your team who, working closely with the sales manager and implementation team from your project understands your entire stairway plan and works with you to continually expand the use of the system and increase efficiency in execution and visibility of data in line with your required timeline.
In summary, SuiteSuccess combines award-winning software with a proven implementation approach developed to deliver leading practices to growing businesses through a consultative and collaborative approach. By focussing on making significant progress in key areas quickly, the lead time of projects is significantly reduced whilst positive outcomes are experienced due to the clear and structured communications and implementation processes throughout.
About Fast Four
We help ambitious companies unlock the power of technology in order to grow. As the first NetSuite Solution Provider in Benelux, we understand better than most the challenges of scaling a business whilst disrupting the existing marketplace...