EP Implements Systems that Fit Your Business Like a Glove

Implementing Quality Information Systems Without Compromise

The Crescendo implementation process showcases Efficiency Partners' patient, thoughtful, and progressive approach to systems development.  EP recognizes that the business, not business software, must have the preeminence.  Rather than making the enterprise conform to the software, the software must conform to the enterprise.  Rather than spending weeks or months training users how the system works, EP consultants spend this time training the system how the the users work. This mindset yields a system that closely mirrors the existing business and introduces new efficiencies that come from the computer's ability to effortlessly collect, organize and present data that supports effective decision-making. The result is a system foundation that reflects present realities, fits naturally into the fabric of the business and provides a flexible and expandable foundation for the future. Efficiency Partners implementation process also features guaranteed pricing, guaranteed functionality and a guaranteed delivery date.

Crescendo Implementation Sequence

The Crescendo implementation process may vary in duration from an agressive schedule under six months to a more paced schedule of a year or more. For most situations, a timeframe between six and nine months is prescribed, roughly broken into three phases of approximately equal duration: exploration (2-4 months), development (2-4 months) and deployment (2-4 months).

Exploratory Meetings

Initial meetings focus on your company objectives, and the suitability of the Crescendo software and EP's implementation approach to current and future business realities. A short-list of project drivers is compiled which anchor the effort and provide a measure of cost justification.

Initial Proposal

Efficiency Partners prepares an initial comprehensive good-faith estimate which predicts the total of all costs to be incurred throughout the implementation, along with a targeted go-live date. It is from this estimate that the customer organization makes its decision to proceed, executing a blueprint preparation agreement with EP.

Departmental Interviews and Analysis

EP consultants conduct interviews with each of the company's departmental/functional managers to understand, in fine detail, their current workflows, procedures, business documents, challenges, wishes and opportunities. These interviews typically last about 2 - 3 hours each.

Blueprint Preparation

EP's consultants prepare a comprehensive written document which describes the information and process flow within the proposed system, identifying all of the key functions as they will be performed within the company using the new system. The document includes screen mockups of core and specialized applications where applicable to provide an opportunity for the customer to visualize the system in advance of development and activation.

Blueprint Review & Adjustment

Once complete, a first draft of the blueprint is delivered to the customer for review and acceptance. Company decision makers, as well as each of the departmental/functional managers involved in the interview process, review the document to ensure that corporate and individual needs are adequately addressed within the system plan. The plan is updated with changes from the review process and replacement copies are delivered for final review and acceptance.

Contract Execution

The final blueprint document contains a complete system description as well as fixed pricing to replace the original estimates. Provided that the fixed pricing for the accepted blueprint is within 10% of the original estimates, the project proceeds as planned. Should final pricing exceed original estimates by more than 10%, the customer may elect to cancel the implementation, paying only for the blueprinting efforts. Contracts help ensure timely and satisfactory system completion by imposing a retainer that progressively declines in the event that the target live date is delayed by Efficiency Partners.

Software Development & Configuration

During the software development, or "quiet", phase of the implementation, Efficiency Partners consultants and engineers work in the background to create the workflow paths, data windows, and snap-in business logic that enable Crescendo to conform to the contours of the enterprise.

Database Conversion

In most cases, new customers are porting data into Crescendo electronically from one or more existing systems. Crescendo readily accepts data in various formats, including XML, and comma- and tab-delimited. Crescendo's filing routines ensure that newly accepted data is grafted naturally into the greater Crescendo database, as though it had been created there initially.

Equipment Setup & Configuration

Proper server and network equipment setup is an important foundation for a smooth-running information system. Efficiency Partners technicians work to create this essential infrastructure, emphasizing maximum user functionality, peak performance, and common-sense security measures.

User Acceptance

Efficiency Partners recognizes that true quality is the product of informed design and patient refinement in the context of a live environment. As part of the deployment phase of the implementation, EP consultants work individually and directly with department managers to explain, review, test, and refine the software functions that will help them drive and manage their daily departmental activities. This process is iterative, repeating until each department manager possesses a reliable and efficient toolset, and a sense of confidence for the transition.

Rework and Amendments

Occasionally gaps in the original blueprint specification are found during the user acceptance phase which require additional development efforts on the part of EP's engineers. This is a natural part of the process, and Efficiency Partners has a straightforward process in place for amending the original blueprint specification to incorporate functionality that was not considered during the system design phase. Such changes do impact the overall system cost, and on rare occasions even the go-live date, but Efficiency Partners endeavors to minimize the overall impact while delivering the right system for the customer.

Training

As previously stated, EP consultants emphasize training the system, not the users. A properly designed program should require little formal training for effective use. For example, many people are able to perform basic operations using Microsoft Word or Excel without ever attending a formal training class. During the implementation process, EP consultants focus their training efforts first on training the system, and second on "training the trainer", ensuring that department managers fully understand the operations of the tools that their staffs will employ. Specific procedural training of end users is typically entrusted to the department managers. EP consultants generally do provide formalized classroom-style training to all end users to help them learn the basics and shortcuts for general system navigation, but specific procedural training for their individual responsibilities is left to their department manager. This is the general rule, but EP consultants will work with your business managers to establish a training plan that is specifically oriented to your unique situation.

Activation Planning

Every go-live event has its own set of logistical realities including physical inventories, month- and year-end cutoffs, the transferral of opening balances, quotes and orders, final data conversion runs and verification, etc. A smooth system transition depends on the careful planning, sequencing and coordination of the many go-live steps. Efficiency Partners consultants work directly with your business managers to help choreograph this process for the maximum likelihood of success.

Dress Rehearsal

No self-respecting Broadway show would take the stage without at least one dress-rehearsal. Likewise, a system implementation without a suitable dry run would probably be ill-advised. EP has had the best results with short term half or full day dry runs, as opposed to week- or month-long parallel processing. Most organizations do not have the spare time to have their employees maintain two completely separate systems for any appreciable length of time. Even if they did, the "holy grail" of having all reports from the two systems match to the penny after the exercise is elusive, maddening and largely unproductive. One or more brief, comprehensive dry runs will typically ease "opening night jitters" across the enterprise and detect areas where last-minute system adjustment or additional procedural training is required.

Go-Live

EP strives for a customer go-live experience that is free of stress and business disruption. To help achieve this, EP's consultants and technicians are typically on-site during the go-live process to address issues that arise. Often overlooked but equally important for a successful transition is the first month-end close for the accounting department. EP consultants work closely with the customer's accounting personnel to provide needed assistance during their first month-end close on the system.

Ongoing Support

Go-live is only the beginning of a long, positive and satisfying progression of continuous improvement for Efficiency Partners customers. EP stays in constant communication with its customers to ensure that their systems keep up with technological, procedural and organizational changes within the business, as well as changes in the marketplace. At the same time, EP consultants and technicians are steadily working to expand system capabilities to ever more closely mirror actual business realities.

© Efficiency Partners, LLC • 790 Watervliet-Shaker Road, Latham, NY 12110 • Phone (518) 874-0616 • Fax (518) 533-3806