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Mastering the Art of Successful Implementations

By W. Alexander Holmes, EVP, CFO/COO, Money Gram International

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W. Alexander Holmes, EVP, CFO/COO, Money Gram International

Clear-Cut Software Investment for Return

Microsoft Solutions are the most commonly used business technology platforms in the world. As a result, companies can  estimate the strategy and effort required for a successful Microsoft implementation. SharePoint is a classic example:  SharePoint is an intuitive tool that users can quickly learn how to use. However, any software or hardware investments, even  user-friendly platforms, require a clear-cut strategy that can be quickly executed upon in order to achieve maximum return on investment. The following are a few helpful tips to ensure a successful implementation of Microsoft Solutions:

1. Planning–A company must strike the right balance for the organization along the ‘control to chaos’ continuum. With too  much control or overly complex approval processes, innovation and ease of adoption can be stifled. On the other hand, too  much flexibility can lead to site sprawl which can be an inefficient use of company resources. Simple governance tasks like   effective access control can enable success. Planning should also address the lifecycle management of a site, not simply the  initial deployment. Start small and expand with each success to ensure the planning process delivers incremental value to the business. Delivering new tools and capabilities every ninety days keeps employees engaged and excited, which will advance  change management efforts and company adoption. It also enables the team to make adjustments to the planning cycle based on  early lessons learned. If the project is spanning multiple quarters or years, rethink the approach.

"Understand the full out-of-the-box capabilities of any Microsoft product in order to ensure that it’s a good fit for the  organization"

2. Focus on the Solution, not the Features–Features are like shiny new toys. They can distract from the core value of the  solution. If a team is not focused on the specific problem it’s trying to solve or the opportunity created with this specific solution, it will be difficult to demonstrate the real value of the platform for the business.

3. Staffing–Time commitment to the project is imperative, andit cannot be a team member’s extracurricular activity. If the  team is short on resources, alternative tactics should be devised to compensate. Starting small and expanding with success is a key supporting tactic for scarce resources. Other ideas include partnering with a trusted advisory firm, implementing  train-the-trainer workshops or creating pockets of expertise that can serve as solution delivery specialists.

4. Change Management and Training—A comprehensive change management plan is a critical component of the upfront planning  process and the end delivery of the tool. Work with your human resources and corporate communications teams to create a  multifaceted training plan that educate steam members on the solution approach. The key is having a variety of educational  opportunities that appeal to the diverse methods in which people learn. Lunch-andlearns, training videos, self-help tools and a toolkit of templates can lead to successful adoption. Housing all of these communication tools in a SharePoint site  provides a one-stop shop for the entire company.

5. Limit customization–Finally, understand the full out-of-the-box capabilities of the product in order to ensure that it’s good fit for the organization. Once a company begins developing and customizing it, the risk and complexity associated with  upgrading to the next product release significantly increases. There is no single right way to ensure a successful  deployment, but these tips will help navigate away from some of the larger pitfalls that can inhibit success!

Understand Nuances of Microsoft Licensing

Microsoft relies on its reseller network for providing solutions and support, and companies should select a Local Area  Reseller (LAR) based on their business needs and financial requirements. Understanding the nuances of Microsoft licensing is  also critical in order to maximize the value of your investment.

Furthermore, take advantage of local Microsoft resources. Many cities have Microsoft Technology Centers (MTC’s) and other  resources that companies can utilize. Microsoft or vendor-led events, regional user groups, bulletins and websites also  provide a wealth of information and solid resources that can align to your company’s specific needs.

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