When a logistics and supply chain company is considering a new technology initiative around a strategic custom software investment, what should executives, and especially their internal champion, be thinking about?
To set your new technology investment up for success, you need one person from your company who is committed enough on your side -- the product owner -- to represent all stakeholders and their varying end-user mindsets.
This person must have available time to be committed to that responsibility. The product owner must intensely believe in the project, like working on the project and be committed to the project.
While it may sound ideal to have an executive decision-maker in this role as the product owner, often it is not. Why? The goal of this new technology investment is all about saving executives’ time. If an executive’s time is in very short supply, it’s far better to have a mid-level manager who is well connected within the company to take on product ownership responsibilities.
Second, building a new technology system requires access to the right people at the client site. When this is assured, success is virtually guaranteed. Without it, the project becomes a nightmare.
For example, if the new system is related to accounting, the development partner needs access to the CFO, controller, or the right stakeholder. If the new system will impact the warehouse, the development partner needs access to warehouse management and staff, with perhaps the ability to have a Zoom meeting.
If the delivery staff will be using or impacted by the new system, access to the delivery staff is critical. If your company’s website will be impacted, your development partner will need to be able to talk with your website team.
When there is enough commitment, access is usually not a problem. Why?
Building new software is not magic. You cannot buy tools that will magically do the software development work without your input and dedication.
You can’t just be financially bought into the new system without also participating in the development and iterations. There must be a realistic understanding of the time frame involved.
As an important cautionary note:
We once worked with a client whose company had a troubled culture.
Originally, we had a really good product owner who could figure out everything. He would interview stakeholders on our behalf. Everything was going well until that person left the company.
When that company veteran was replaced by an entry-level hire just out of college, without the great internal relationships to lean on, the project was never quite the same.
Our team as the development partner no longer had access to the right internal stakeholders, and the replacement was not confident or comfortable making decisions as a product owner.
Again, with any new technology investment, it takes serious commitment for successful implementation. Lack of communication and a lack of commitment can destroy even the most perfect project. In this particular case, that one staffing change, where the technology investment lost its product owner, its internal champion, destroyed everything.
Now that you know about this risk, hopefully, your company won’t repeat the same mistake.
Is your logistics and supply chain company considering a new technology initiative around a strategic custom software investment? Share your comments below.