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Changing WinCenter to Accommodate Your Process

We recently completed an implementation of R3 WinCenter for an 800 person GovCon customer. The system that they ended up with was dramatically different than the out-of-the-box WinCenter solution. I’ll walk through a few elements of this implementation. It is a good example of how the flexibility of WinCenter is enabling organizations to realize the benefits of an off-the-shelf software system that can be customized as if it were custom software.

Background

This customer had developed a very different and highly proprietary methodology for business development. It was completely new to their organization. They wanted a system that would accommodate their new process and prescriptively drive users to follow the process. It was very, very different from the industry standard business development process advocated by Lohfeld Consulting Group and Shipley. WinCenter, being a solution designed by Lohfeld Consulting Group, embeds the industry standard best practices and process artifacts within the solution.

The customer decided to invest in WinCenter for four key reasons. First, it came with a comprehensive feature set for this business purpose. Second, it delivered the process framework to drive a business development process. Third, was the belief that because of the design of WinCenter on an open application platform, they would be able to be able to bend it to their will more easily and at less cost and risk then any other alternatives. And finally, the total price was much lower than the alternatives of other vendors or custom development.

What the customer was really buying was an off-the-shelf “framework” for GovCon business development. This would give them the best of both worlds – the cost-effectiveness of an off-the-shelf product and the flexibility of custom software.

Approach

This reality was understood by all parties. So, we planned our implementation to be a bit different than normal as follows:

  • We would manage the team as one pool of resources. It would be structured as a Joint Development “partnership”.
  • We would install and bring up WinCenter in their production environment.
  • They would go through “workouts” of the solution, using it, and then, develop their requirements for changes based upon their experience.

NOTE:  The customer had their process on paper, but, they had not thought through how it would be implemented as a system. Thus, they wanted to be able to be hands on with the software first, in order to understand how to re-design the system to meet their needs.

  • As we began to make changes, we used “Do and Learning Sessions” to train two members of their internal team to become skilled to be able to make changes on their own using the Configuration Wizards of the system.
  • We worked jointly with their team with the goal of their team doing most of the day-to-day changes, with R3 as support and tasked with advanced changes and enhancements.

Implementation Review

The implementation went from October through February when the system went into production – an elapsed time of about 5 months. The implementation started very quickly with the system up-and-running within a week.  This allowed the customer to go-hands on very quickly and to start learning and planning.  This learning/requirements phase took about 2 months, with the system being used as a prototype.  The flexibility of the system allowed them to try out ideas, real-time, and start to learn how to make changes through our Do and Learning Sessions.

The core period of system configuration occurred over 60 days from December into February.  I would estimate that in this implementation they changed over 50% of the user interface, forms, user actions, and data elements.  They also added about 10 major new features.  This was by far the most extensive customization for WinCenter that we had done.  Note that unlike other systems all of this work was done through configuration and use of Configuration Wizards that are part of the system.  No custom compiled code was required.

The Do and Learning Sessions were very effective in quickly bringing their people up to speed to understand the WinCenter framework and how to use the onboard configuration wizards to make changes. This enabled their internal staff to become contributing members of the project team and be ready to support the system in production.

During the 60-day heavy change period, the system iterated each week with business users being introduced and proving feedback.  The new system was brought into production with 150 active opportunities.

Takeaways

This is one of those projects that had the makings of a problem project.  But, we framed it as a partnership with all parties going into it with eyes wide open.  Through the process three things happened: a) they/we figured out how to translate their process on paper into a software system to automate and drive the desired results, b) the system was successfully implemented and brought into production and c) they became trained and able to support the system and manage continuous improvement.

This project was a bargain for the customer.  They had priced alternative off-the-shelf proprietary solution vendors.  The main alternative competition’s cost was 250% of this total project just for the software.  And, the cost to customize would have been more than another 250%.  Plus, they determined that it wasn’t even possible to get done what they would need.  Their other choices were to custom build the system from scratch on Microsoft SharePoint or .Net.  The estimates they received were more than 500% of what they spent with us on the project.  It would have been much riskier and best case it would have taken more than 1 year.

Two reasons why we were able to meet their needs at such a reasonable cost and timeframe is that all of the process changes were able to be made a) without re-architecting the core WinCenter framework and b) it was done without any custom compiled coded development.  While WinCenter comes ready to run out-of-the-box, it is actually designed to be a configurable framework.  While the changes in this implementation were vast on a % basis, they all fit within the core process framework.

In sum, I feel that this project is a very strong example of the power of this new generation of truly flexible software.  The customer gets the best of both worlds: low cost and low risk by using off-the-shelf software, and, the ability to truly have a system that accommodates their way of working.

For more information, visit the WinCenter microsite.

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