When referring to business capabilities, from PDM to PLM, Industry 4.0, manufacturing execution, etc., driving change requires a combination of strategic and operational leadership. As Lionel Grealou, business advisor and founder of Xlifecycle Ltd, put it in one of his Industry Reflections: “Implementing new capabilities involves continuous levels of business alignment and change management to ensure effective adoption. A key challenge in appraising capabilities is maintaining objectivity—considering relevance against the business plan, and/or the product development plan (NPD), as well as the ability of the organization to change.”
OEMs contract system integrators (SIs) to drive business change implementations, leveraging outside-in expertise in complex enterprise solutions and industry best practice—allowing OEMs to focus on their core competencies. SIs and solution editors work closely together with the OEM to drive forward value realization. Simply put, an SI can be referred to as a “solution” and business partner that audits, leads, and manages improvements to an OEM’s technology stack and operating model.
OEMs expect their selected SI(s) to define “what good looks like” and how value can be realized, subsequently taking responsibility for implementing capabilities and mitigations approved by the OEM. While the SI is to focus on building and deploying new solutions, it often lacks experience in operations to define the required transformational requirements across people, data, and processes. This translates as a gap in the RACI model when it comes to leading change and defining new ways of working.
What to expect from system integrators?
SIs play a crucial role in establishing credibility, managing stakeholders, and driving successful strategy implementation. As David Maister put it in his book, The Trusted Advisor (2000): “Credibility isn’t just content expertise. It’s content expertise plus presence, which refers to how we look, act, react, and talk about our content. It depends not only on the substantive reality of the advisor’s expertise, but also on the experience of the person doing the perceiving.”
SIs are appointed to manage all aspects of solution delivery, including third party suppliers, advising on industry best practices, strategic storytelling, detailed planning, implementation, deployment, and service transition. Throughout the change journey, successful SIs typically exhibits a combination of 6 characteristics:
- Being a trusted partner with the relevant experience and ‘scars to prove it’, demonstrating credibility.
- Owning full delivery accountability, from planning to solution deployment, showing ownership.
- Including requirement definition, comms, business change, and service transition, with a focus on people).
- Leveraging software editor partnerships and solution intimacy, having skin in the game.
- Driving process trade-offs, technical and delivery assurance, and business change impact assessment, acting as a design authority.
- Managing and challenging other parties towards value realisation objectives, actively driving value.
To reduce uncertainty and address implementation risks, it is crucial for OEMs to establish well-defined contractual agreements that clearly define the role and responsibilities of the selected SI, including its relationships with other parties and escalation routes (incumbent support teams, software editors, value-added resellers, etc.).
Why do system integrators get challenged and sometimes fail to deliver?
Complex transformation initiatives are inevitably accompanied by challenges and obstacles. The ability to effectively mitigate risks and overcome delivery challenges often hinges upon trust and the strength of business relationships. Throughout our experience, we have observed three key reasons why SIs face difficulties in delivering successful business transformation initiatives:
- Lack of clarity in SI responsibilities within the engagement model, stemming from insufficient business leadership or a limited understanding of the project scope. This gradually erodes commitment and engagement, resulting in diminished ownership.
- Perceived or actual lack of ownership over the desired outcomes, starting from the identification of business requirements. This places the onus solely on the OEM to adopt a solution that may not be fully comprehended or aligned with its needs.
- Imbalanced emphasis on the technical aspects of the solution, focusing primarily on building it correctly rather than ensuring that it aligns with the intended goals and objectives. This is often combined with a lack of agility when it comes to driving alignment.
Such challenges can be amplified by various factors, including project complexity, scope creep, communication and collaboration issues, technical complexities, stakeholder misalignment, change barriers, business risks, or poor data quality constraints. Additionally, lack of delivery methodologies or industry thought leadership gaps can jeopardize the ability to deliver successful outcomes.
Filling the SI gap: introducing the “business integrator” role
Quick Release_ introduced the term "business integrator" to define the role responsible for serving as the interface between the OEM, the software editor, and the SI. This role can also operate at the intersection of business and IT stakeholders, business transformation and operations, acting as a crucial link for translating and aligning process and data requirements with new capability implementation. Simply put, the business integrator facilitates effective communication and collaboration among all parties involved, ensuring seamless coordination and successful cross-functional outcomes:
- Beyond technical expertise: Bringing in-depth understanding and experience in product development processes, systems, and technologies, enabling seamless collaboration between functions.
- Business process alignment: Beyond technical integration, it is important to align decision-making processes with data management practices.
- User adoption: Addressing business change tradeoffs early, guiding and supporting stakeholders through the transition, providing effective training and communication.
- Vendor collaboration: Leveraging internal and external expertise, ensuring successful integration, and the ability to address any challenges that arise.
- Scalability: Building a solution that is flexible and future-proof, blending business and technological advancements, capturing, and leveraging the relevant knowledge and IP.
How QR_ can help
OEMs trust us to drive their product data management operations. Understanding the organizational modus operandi, stakeholder dynamics, and decision-making processes is vital for identifying improvement requirements—defining and implementing effective business change roadmaps. Manufacturers and system integrators rely on our professional services to leverage industry expertise, from NPI processes to best practices in BOM management.
- Quick Release_ (2023); 'The Why, How, and What of PLM: Key Messages for Business Leaders and Influencers'.
- Grealou L (2022); 'Industry Reflections 11 – Navigating the Business Change Roadmap When Implementing New Operational Capabilities'.
- Maister DH, Green CH, Galford RM (2000); The Trusted Advisor; Simon & Schuster.