10 steps for creating the real-time enterprise
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A real-time enterprise (RTE) shares information with employees, customers, and partners in real time. This allows the company to instantly alert individuals to changes in customer demand, inventory, competitive actions, and profitability. There are many companies today that already are reaping the benefits that result from becoming an RTE, including Cisco, Dell, and Wal-Mart. These 10 steps can help your company get there, too.
1 Analyze your current building blocks. Successful RTEs build from current investments in the areas of CRM, SCM, and ERP. These systems already connect employees, customers, and partners. So analyze what systems and initiatives you have in place and how best to exploit these efforts to become an RTE. For example, how can you leverage or expand the CRM processes and technologies currently in place to bring information or services into real time?
2 Create your RTE road map. Create a clear vision of how your company will function as an RTE. This road map will lay out which RTE processes need to be in place and how to accomplish them, what your RTE people issues are and how to overcome them, and which RTE technologies you need and how to implement them over time.
3 Prioritize processes and functions to automate. Prioritize the RTE processes and the RTE business functions to automate in order of priority and quick wins.
4 Secure strong supplier, partner, and customer buy-in. Determine and communicate RTE's benefits for employees, customers, and partners to them. Meet with all of them to explain the value proposition, and to discuss key benefits to participating in your RTE.
5 Demonstrate RTE value to gain top management support. Build a value proposition based on both execution efficiencies (e.g., lower costs per transaction, higher revenues per employee) and structural efficiencies (e.g., securing sustainable, competitive advantage). Then wrap your RTE value proposition within your RTE business case.
6 Launch change, training, and communications programs early on. In an RTE people's work is very visible: There are no private C drives. So talk to employees about what this will mean in terms of their jobs day-to-day, and train them on RTE processes and technologies. Launch an RTE communication program to support these efforts.
7 Utilize new, real-time technical architectures and applications. There is an explosion in new real-time technologies. Research them thoroughly, add them to your RTE strategy and take advantage of the benefits they provide.
8 Execute your RTE road map in small, accomplishable steps. We have all learned from our ERP, CRM, and SCM experiences that tackling too large a technology project dooms it success from the outset. To implement a winning RTE, remember: Small bites and lots of quick wins--these will also help to secure continued buy-in from upper management.
9 Deliver strong RTE analytics/operational excellence.At each stage of implementing your road map, you must deliver to upper management comprehensive analytics, including documentation of quick wins and new operational excellence.
10 Measure, record, and communicate RTE success. Record and communicate benefits and successes on a monthly or quarterly basis to top management, to internal RTE users, and to suppliers, partners and customers. Ongoing measurement, recording, and communicating must occur throughout your RTE lifetime.
Barton Goldenberg is president and founder of ISM Inc., a CRM consulting firm based in Bethesda, Md. He is the author of CRM Automation (Prentice Hall, 2002) and publisher of The Guide to CRM Automation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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