Spring is here! The season for growth, new beginnings and sewing ideas to cultivate change

We all know that regular maintenance and planning are essential to help your garden to grow and shine – it is not wildly dissimilar when it comes to business.

To help your MAT grow, to its fullest potential, it is important to focus on improvement and growth. This will not only deliver enriched educational outcomes for your pupils but also enhance local community engagement.

To assist MATA readers, we have made some suggestions to offer insights into how a forward-thinking Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) can evolve. Our aim is to inspire growth and foster a culture of continuous improvement, with the ambition to improve existing ‘blooms’ for increased enjoyment by all.
Sustainable growth requires a multifaceted approach. This includes integrating business improvement, organisational change, financial management, people management to deliver performance optimisation, and cultural evolution.

Here are our key tips and advice on growth:

Vision and Strategy

Re-visit your MAT’s strategic roadmap. If you don’t have one, we suggest creating one. Review your plans: Are they still relevant? What might need updating? Is the wider MAT organisation aligned and fully contributing to the vision for growth. A roadmap for growth should consider new opportunities and focus on your MAT differentiation and innovation approach.

Technical Innovation

Technology is reshaping the education industry and helping power growth ambitions. Improving ‘experiences’ for pupils. Teachers, and operational MAT business services alike, all the way to Governors, to ensure modern digital tools are discussed and evaluated. Yes, funding is limited, but it is important to work smarter not harder, where possible - endeavouring to meet the evolving needs of your MAT.

Supporting Culture

Check on the softer side of things, is your MAT fostering a positive culture that values innovation, change, collaboration to drive growth? Are your MAT employees (of any role) encouraged to participate, provide feedback, and contribute ideas for how to improve your MAT? Do you encourage experimentation and a ‘fail-fast’ mindset? Exploration and courage are vital attributes to drive continued growth.

Partnership and Togetherness

In the corporate world external partnerships and alliances bring mutual improvement and growth. So, is your MAT properly collaborating? Are you sharing best practice or new findings? Are your MAT communication methods effective in cultivating a growth mindset to help the organisation growth smoothly and effectively?

Sustainability Drivers

Delivering growth relies on stable cash flow, operating your MAT on a sound financial footing. Balancing revenue / income streams, external funding, cost management / control, and overarching transparency. Monitoring key financial metrics will help support project growth and prioritisation alongside return on investment targets and growth drivers.

Empower Your ‘Superheroes’

To grow, a MAT needs strong leadership and effective governance. Encouraging, trusting, and empowering individuals within your MAT is vital to drive strategic growth. A diverse team with expertise in education, business management, and innovation is better when they unify their financial, operational, and academic ‘superpowers’ to deliver growth programs. Are you properly involving your MAT superheroes today?

Two Ears One Mouth

Engaging pupils, parents, educators with surveys, and the effective use of data analytics will help understand their evolving expectations of your main MAT stakeholders. Listening and providing updates on growth ambitions will help enhance the ‘MAT customer experience’. Aligning expectations with reality while eliminating fear, uncertainty, and doubt – encouraging long-term relationships crucial to drive growth.

Measure Your Growth

Consider developing your own MAT-specific growth targets and monitoring KPIs to help track and communicate progress toward your future ambitions. Reviewing and sharing progression will help inspire people across the MAT and help to identify other areas for improvement.

Learn From Your Competition

They say ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’. So don’t be shy – To stay ahead, evolve, and grow, your MAT needs to stay informed about a multitude of topics including local competition, regulatory changes, accreditations and other emerging trends. Get your team of experts assessing your MAT business model and vision to ensure, mitigate and drive your MAT’s success.

Celebrate Your Success

Growth is not easy. Be kind to your MAT to yourselves. Take the time to acknowledge and respect the effort and achievement when driving and delivering growth. It will never be perfect, but taking time out to report on and promote change and growth will inspire and drive better educational outcomes for all.

Please reach out and speak to de Novo Solutions to review these tips and advice suggestions. We would be delighted to input into your MAT business strategy to help you grow in a responsible, sustainable manner. We are the ‘experience economy’ experts, delivering uniquely different digital transformations with Oracle Cloud and ServiceNow technologies. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Making a Digital Difference with Odyssea™ for MATs

Typically, 75% of a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) budget today is spent on people costs.  It begs the question:  Is your MAT modernising its approach to people management, investing in its most valuable (and expensive) asset?  Are your skilled people benefiting from a progressive digital revolution or evolution journey, or is your trust experiencing inertia—confused, stuck, or unsure how to begin.

No matter your MAT situation, de Novo is here to help.  This article showcases the capabilities of Odyssea™ for MATs and emphasises the crucial role of people management in achieving overall MAT goals.

Learn how de Novo’s expertise, recently recognised with a ‘HR Tech Innovation’ award commendation, can support you on your journey to a digitally optimised future.

With the emphasis today placed upon quality pupil education and engaging pupil experiences, Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) across the nation are under pressure like never before. Expected to simultaneously ‘juggle’ other operational MAT priorities alongside the needs of their pupils with an aim to deliver a well-respected, compliant, successful, safe, and performant MAT that the community is proud of.

To achieve those aims the role of people management should not be forgotten, understated, or delayed in lieu of other items on the MAT agenda as it is the people working within a MAT that impact pupils and contribute to the goals of the organisation.

The seemingly never-ending list of operational priorities and activities that MAT leadership teams are expected to focus on can often cause an inadvertent negative impact on other equally important aspects, such as people management.

The Pressures Facing MATs Today

These classical MAT priorities will not be going away anytime soon, and no doubt the average MAT Leaders’ to-do list runs the risk of expanding still further and with a potential change in UK Government who knows what the future will bring.

To help dispel a few urban myths that may exist it is important to confirm that a large slice of MAT priorities and focus areas can be better addressed through the effective deployment and use of cloud enabled digital technology to complete much of the heavy lifting.

Without balancing the time and effort spent on the ‘digital agenda’ versus other operational matters a MAT might well run the risk of missing out on the advantages that a modern cloud enabled people solution brings to the operation but more importantly to the people.

The heavy lifting typically associated with preparing and executing a digital transformation can be reduced by de Novo’s Odyssea™ for MATs, a purpose-built strategic HR / Payroll people management solution powered by Oracle Cloud.

With such a high proportion (75%) of MAT operational budgets spent on people related costs it is essential that such a precious and valuable investment (MAT people) is properly managed alongside well thought out people experiences.

Odyssea™ for MATs brings industry ready profiles, functionality and default settings that are specifically purpose designed to enable a MAT to make a fast start to their people transformation. de Novo’s experience in the industry has been gained through other MAT people and finance focused transformation projects. That knowledge means that de Novo is essentially simplifying and breaking the barriers of inertia that might on occasion paralyse people management progress within a MAT.

Navigate your Cloud Journey with Confidence

This is where our Cloud Readiness Assessment (CRA) becomes invaluable. CRA is performed in partnership with a MAT and reviews the existing working approaches related to people management, with that research in mind de Novo can advise on recommended way forward – be that revolution or evolution. de Novo’s team of experts can guide a MAT on project delivery approaches, future target operating models, functional capability discussions, cloud solution demonstrations alongside building the funding business case and value proposition.

People management and strategic HR is an imperative benefiting those working in a MAT enterprise whether they are Employees, Teaching Professionals, Operational Managers, Governors, or Volunteers. People working in a MAT environment have an impact daily on pupils – the next generation that will guide the way – and it is vital that these people feel valued, connected, and aligned with the MAT vision.

Supported at every stage of their employment journey with connected HR solutions that are modern and engaging ensures a person record is entered once and leveraged across the employment lifecycle.

People Management Lifecycle

Introducing Odyssea™ for MATs

Odyssea™ for MATs is a fast start, modular solution for people management – a solution that comes predesigned to support the needs of the education industry to ease the burden and expedite the digital transformation journey.

Partnering with several MAT clients has enabled de Novo to co-design Odyssea™ for MAT to be a solution that enables a digital people transformation strategy supporting either a one-step revolution or a more pragmatic and phased evolution journey.

Key People Management Capabilities

Navigating the Digital Transformation Journey

Advancing and modernising MAT people strategy or people management services will without doubt save time, money, improve efficiency, communication and collaboration across the organisation.

Whether the digital transformation is done in a single leap (revolution) or a series of purposeful steps (evolution) it is essential that progress occurs. Inertia is not acceptable.

Progress can begin with a CRA, a conversation that is supportive and not judgemental – it is about supporting a MAT on their own unique digital journey so that the organisation can better focus on delivering better educational outcomes for all.

It takes time to develop a mature, high performing people management strategy and that elevated view and ambition should not be set as a success measure from day one.

The digital people management journey takes time and requires the regular input of multiple parties to help ensure adoption, innovation, efficiency do not ‘scare or destabilise’ the MAT’s primary activities – namely, pupil education.

Value as a Service™ (VaaS™): Supporting MATs Beyond Implementation

de Novo provides additional aftercare and managed support services for MATs beyond the implementation process and the point of go-live with Value as a Service™ (VaaS™). VaaS™ helps MATs to continue maximising their Oracle Cloud solution capability beyond go-live de Novo’s innovative approach to delivery excellence continues forward into expert aftercare designed to ensure MATs feel supported at every step.

Unlocking Efficiency and Substantial Cost Savings for Multi-Academy Trusts

An optimised people management strategy will impact that 75% spend ensuring you are getting the most from that investment.  Helping a MAT to save on:

A modern people management strategy is the future, but it is not always easy to achieve or even prioritise. With de Novo, MATs can navigate the path toward a digitally transformed and optimised future for people management. Our proficiency and expertise in HR/People Management systems have earned us industry recognition, notably with de Novo Solutions receiving Commendation in the ‘HR Tech Innovation’ award category at the prestigious ERP Today Awards.

So, why not have a discussion with de Novos’ MAT experts and hear more about Odyssea™ for MATs, our past projects and learn how the CRA first step can ensure evolution becomes revolution and inertia is bypassed successfully.

Ready to embark on your journey to leading-edge People Management?

Unlock MAT Excellence with Odyssea™

Experience Value as a Service™ (VaaS™)

Author:  Richard Twelvetrees, Experience & Value Enablement Director, de Novo Solutions

de Novo Solutions are passionate about the end-to-end experience. 

We support Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) in achieving their goal of implementing modern cloud based, back-office and shared service finance management software.

UK Government articles such as Moving your school to the cloud – April 2019 have been painting the picture of why a cloud enabled school is a likely better operated business that one remaining with an outdated approach to finance.

Odyssea™ by de Novo Solutions is powered by Oracle Cloud – one of the worlds most renowned and trusted technology platforms for finance management.  Odyssea™ focuses on harnessing those UK Government way markers such as:

Cloud enabled finance management is the future – it is that simple.

Odyssea™ will enable your MAT to experience a myriad of benefits for not only the core back-office finance management and shared service team but also the wider extended MAT community spanning Senior Leadership Teams, Governors all the way to active academic staff.

Financial Challenges Facing MATs

MATs are facing a complex landscape of financial challenges that demand strategic navigation and innovative solutions:

Key Benefits of Odyssea™

Odyssea™, powered by Oracle Cloud, offers a range of features and advantages for MATs including:

Odyssea™ can help your MAT with:

Financial Transparency & Control

Choose Odyssea™ for a Best-in-Class Finance Solution
Embrace a Culture of Continuous Innovation with Value as a Service™ (VaaS™)

Only with de Novo Solutions can your MAT speed its way to a modern finance digital transformation – improving operational agility, transparency, scalability, and competitiveness, providing your MAT with proven businesses tools that will thrive in your organisation’s financial landscape. 

Ready to embark on your journey to leading-edge finance management?

Unlock MAT Excellence with Odyssea™

Experience Value as a Service™ (VaaS™)

As Featured in ERP Today | Written by Mark Sweeny, Chief Exec of de Novo

As my three-year tenure as an expert contributor to ERP Today sadly comes to an end, I wanted my final swansong to promote the wider technology evolution that is geographically occurring across the UK.

With the HM Government policy around ‘levelling up’ coming back into focus, many tech hubs are flourishing. We have the Newport-Cardiff-Swansea corridor in South Wales, which is close to my beating Welsh heart. Throw in ecosystems around Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Glasgow-Edinburgh corridor, and you will find there’s a lot more going on in the tech space these days outside of London.

In Wales, the tech dragon is well and truly roaring and finding its voice. It comes aided and abetted by a series of business-friendly Welsh Government policies that look to encourage entrepreneurs to develop Welsh based-businesses that actively contribute to the local economy, as well as independent trade bodies such as FinTech Wales and innovative organisations like the Alacrity Foundation.

The Welsh Government recognised early on that the local economy was lagging behind other regions across the UK, and the need to drive growth would only come from transitioning away from the traditional industries and market sectors of heavy manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, to one that is firmly based around advanced engineering and digital technology. In return, this has been unlocking the potential of the rich talent pool that is available in-country, driving specialism and economic growth. It is a generational project, true, but unless started, a journey can never be travelled.

It is a generational project, but unless started, a journey can never be travelled

The markers of intent

The Welsh Government has been clear with its mission: “drive economic growth, productivity, resilience by embracing and exploiting digital innovation”.

Turning strategy into viable tangible action, its intention is to deliver by (1) encouraging collaborative and shared workspaces; (2) recognising the wider role colleges and universities have beyond research and structured education; (3) relentless focus on niche technology skills and products that service long-term growing markets – e.g. cybersecurity; (4) supporting businesses in accelerating adaption to the future of work and skills based upon principles of a green sustainable economy; and lastly (5) improve procurement practices and processes by working with suppliers to deliver better outcomes.

Outcome-based results delivering tangible value include:

  • A thriving digital business sector and community, with a mixed ecosystem of small, medium and large technology-based companies
  • An ability to capitalise on new areas of digital innovation, to stand out in global competition for new markets and industries and attract new talent to Wales
  • Ensuring people have the skills to be able to take the jobs of the future and employers have a pipeline of talent for digital, data and technology careers
  • Developing a global reputation for leading technical innovation and a thriving export business
  • Adoption of leading procurement practices that will enable Wales to move forward

Shy bairns get nowt 

Whilst the mission is well intended, it is pleasing to see that Welsh technology entrepreneurs are not just waiting around, but instead moving forward, investing time and money ahead of the economic curve. As they say in Newcastle, ‘shy bairns get nowt’. 

Part of the game is calculated risk taking and having resilience. We can only build and grow the economy by getting out there and doing stuff, kicking down doors, not accepting the status quo, and refusing to accept no as an answer. 

In South Wales, for example, a partnership between Wesley Clover (the family investment company of billionaire Sir Terry Matthews), the Welsh Government, and The Waterloo Foundation (David and Heather Stevens) has resulted in the Alacrity Foundation

In recession the need for economic recovery always starts with government spending

Alacrity actively attracts, develops and promotes graduate entrepreneurial talent to create the next generation of technology companies. However, it is much more than a study course. The Foundation actively links entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, risk capital and government in one network. The programme is unique because no one is required to enter a cohort with an idea. The ideation is instead developed through challenges and problems sourced from the public and private sectors. This approach ensures solutions are designed to address customer challenges at a repeatable and expanding scale.

“Young graduates are a blank canvas and see challenges through a new lens,” says Simon Gibson, CEO of Wesley Clover. “By empowering young entrepreneurs with an applied business and technology curriculum, complemented by more than 100 professional mentors, innovations are being developed with considerable market potential.”

Tech always needs people 

Organisations like Tramshed Tech meanwhile look to bring like-minded startups together through collaborative sharing of experiences and space. First in Cardiff and now in Newport, these spaces are designed for entrepreneurial early-stage startups and collaboration of like-minded technology businesses, thereby facilitating a key ingredient of any successful entrepreneurial community – effective networking. 

The technology industry needs people, and one of the many benefits of regional technology hubs is that they reach communities and ecosystems of talent that many of us did not know previously existed. The days are long gone when the best resource was the perceived monopolistic domain of Oxbridge and that all things had to revolve around London.    

‘In-house’ of the dragon

The Welsh tech-dragon needs to keep roaring. But the often-missed opportunity, and perhaps the most obvious, is that in recession the need for economic recovery always starts with government spending. Central and local government organisations and bodies need digitalisation to deliver services more effectively, and therefore need technology companies and technology service providers to facilitate this. 

Whilst competition between suppliers must be maintained for the markets to work effectively, spend should be targeted towards small/medium enterprises who can actively demonstrate that they are contributing to growing the local economy. 

Government spending in any form should be seen as an investment and not a cost. Just like entrepreneurs, public sector bodies must see their spend as investment to accumulate. If you don’t invest, the only guarantee is that nothing ever changes.

Innovation is the hotbed of SMEs and not large corporations. Large established vendors find it impossible to deliver niche innovation and have a strong reluctance to pioneer new technology in-house as it does not make an immediate cashable return on investment they can demonstrate in-year. Organisation pricing and political dynamics both internally and externally with market expectations, especially at publicly listed companies, always work against them.

Finally, we should proactively challenge thinking around offshoring – why is it that when we are making arguments to develop our own talent, we still consider moving work and money offshore? I have long been vocal about the ‘race to the bottom of the ratecard’, but we can achieve similar financial models through labour arbitrage across the UK, stimulating our own economy. 

Offshoring does nothing for the local economy as we do not see the benefits of monies spent re-entering the local economy. It sounds nationalistic, and it is hard to avoid politics here – but if we are truly serious about creating new ecosystems of home-grown talent then the answer will not be found in this outdated commercial model which does not drive the outcomes we are looking for to grow the economy.   

Why are we still considering moving work and money offshore?

Apprenticeship schemes – ‘learn while you earn’ 

Apprenticeship schemes surely must be one of the key ways forward across the country for attracting, developing and retaining the next generation of talent. I have personally never believed that an individual’s future should rest solely on a score achieved on one hot sunny day in an exam room. What we want is access to the raw material that we can encourage in the workplace to innovate and learn, injecting real life working experience alongside continuing a structured education.  

The Welsh scheme is simple. An individual is employed by an organisation for four days a week, and on the fifth day they are enrolled and attend an approved degree course at a local approved university. The course fees are picked up by the Welsh Government. The individual is employed and can ‘learn while you earn’. They do not leave university with student debt levels which they are then unable to repay.

We know we are short on talent, without getting drawn into the political arguments that all of us in this country know too well. Regional technology offers a multitude of different opportunities and resources, from lower cost base to access to a wider diverse range of talent. We talk about diversity and inclusion every day; well, here’s the opportunity on a plate to do something about it.

Challenge of regional technology – getting noticed

Wales, alongside other regions, has a long way to go in marketing itself effectively to the world. What starts within its own borders needs to break out quickly, both across the UK and also across the world. The bigger the market, the bigger the opportunity – but being able to access that market in a cost-effective way has and remains key. However, effective outward promotion is the starting point, and again this is where government in partnership with business can lead to success. It is a much needed area for further capital investment.    

For our economy to recover successfully, this will always require like-minded individuals to take calculated risks and invest. Regional technology hubs geographically spread and supported by business-friendly policies like those developed by the Welsh Government, bring success, as we make available all the resources we have available to us – innovation, people and capital.  

As for Cymru, the region is well placed to stimulate and grow its economy over many years to come as it transitions to become a market leader in digital products and services, something #wearedenovo is proud to be a part of.

Yma o(07) hyd!

It’s been an absolute pleasure and reassuringly cathartic to have been part of the ERP Today story. What a success it is, and my thanks to Paul Esherwood and team. I have met so many great people and learned so much over the past three years, but the time is now right to pass the torch onto new blood who will bring different perspectives and no doubt even wider diverse thinking. 

One word of advice though, echoing the words of Daniel Craig to the actor who next inherits the 007 mantle: “Don’t be sh*t!”

As for me, ‘Yma o hyd.’  

Mark Sweeny, Chief Executive, de Novo Solutions

As Featured in ERP Today | Written by Mark Sweeny, CEO of de Novo Solutions

Both the platform vendor and systems integrator landscapes are changing. Where to put your money?

SaaS cloud applications are continuing to evolve, and the innovation just keeps on coming. The first ten years of the cloud era saw the large platform vendors establish their back office enterprise platforms and go-to-market strategies with the mantra of ‘standardised processes’, driving economies of scale and cost. However, markets are cyclical in nature, and the current move to promoting industry solutions is nothing new and is a natural evolution. With most finance, procurement, HR and payroll processes being the same across any organisation and industry, it is the front of house and mid-office cross-cutting processes that really drive differentiation and competitive advantage. 

This is not saying that the core ERP foundation platform is now obsolete – far from it – but industry vertical solutions are tailored to reflect how a given industry works. Consequently, the importance of the wider implications of the experience economy and providing personalised experiences over standardised processes becomes even more important and relevant as it is an enabler for innovation with digital disruption driving competitive advantage.

Industry vertical solutions – what are they?

Simply put, industry vertical solutions have greater potential to create value for customers. Established organisations are always having to find ways to differentiate themselves to remain competitive, especially from the smaller native digital disruptors that are backed by what can seem endless new investment monies courtesy of VCs and private equity. Meanwhile, the public sector is always looking for efficiency savings from policy delivery.

Consequently, such organisations carry significantly high levels of technical debt and often experience poor performance from their legacy on-premise systems, where it is quite common that the siloed front of house systems do not integrate through to the back office. Rewriting such systems takes time and monies that are often not available, and ‘lift and shift’ might reduce the total cost of ownership in the short term but this does not address the challenge of ageing technology that is less relevant to the business operation as an industry evolves.  

Industry vertical solutions (or clouds) have the potential to accelerate and take the risk out of cloud migrations and deliver both economies at scale and cost as well as enabling an organisation with disruptive technology that is specifically relevant to their market. Healthcare providers are an example of this, with significant importance placed on improving the patient experience and requiring high levels of data protection, often going beyond the GDPR provisions.

What does this mean in practice?

In the first instance it means that the user experience of the system needs to reflect the industry and the ways of working in the organisation, whilst also remaining able to leverage standardised business processes that underpin all organisations. Over time this will evolve into an individual personalised experience reflecting how an individual works and interacts with the digital landscape without resorting to customisation. This is real digital transformation in action and is a theme that is only going to accelerate. 

Build once and use many: this was a concept truly ahead of its time

In the ERP on-premise era of the mid-late 90s and 00s, the technology and its capabilities were just not available. This was a period that promised a lot but delivered very little in the way of innovation when compared with what is available today. 

Roll forward a couple of decades and we are awash with artificial intelligence-powered digital workflows and analytics capabilities that allow us to drive innovation. 

However, the real innovation only really occurs when these technologies are assembled to deliver relevant industry vertical solutions and positively disrupt the status quo of doing business. 

I can personally vouch for this during the pioneering years of Certus Solutions and the Oracle SaaS cloud era. We developed a reusable blueprint for UK central government as far back as 2015-2016, and it is this framework that today underpins the Office for National Statistics, HM Treasury, and elements at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. This blueprint is also at the core of the Home Office Metis programme with its final implementation found at the Crown Prosecution Service. 

To put it simply, Oracle SaaS applications were configured to reflect the common processes and reporting of how the UK Civil Service works. Build once and use many: this was a concept truly ahead of its time both in thinking and in its overriding objective to derive maximum value for the public sector through process convergence and reusability.

An alternative case study is Inoapps, another well-known Oracle partner that has its origins in the oil and gas industry and which now has available an Energy for Cloud solution.

The importance of industry knowledge

Any experienced business development professional will tell you the sales process is just a series of conversations. However, for these conversations to be valuable to the buyer, they must be relevant and dialled into the pain points of a given industry and organisation. Consequently, having deep industry knowledge of a given vertical is a must if you want to be successful.

Clive Swan, former SVP Oracle Applications and now investor and non-executive director, says: “Cloud and SaaS technologies simply allow innovation at scale and through creating industry vertical solutions the opportunity to rethink and re-engineer whole industries and ecosystems is available. That’s why this technology is so exciting as the possibilities are endless.”

Sasha Wight, director of employee experience at wrkflow, says: “Organisations looking to deliver the very best employee experience in the hybrid workplace are embracing the concept of hyper-personalisation. The first step towards this is ensuring employee journeys reflect the nuance of the industry your employees operate in.”  

Evolution at pace

SaaS solutions are leaving behind solely being associated with the back-office enterprise with greater focus on the front of house. Microsoft has been the most vocal in pushing this narrative and in their own words ‘accelerate time to value, speed up innovation, and drive benefits for customers, employees and organisations.’ The company is now offering cloud solutions for retail, healthcare, manufacturing, financial services and non-profit organisations, whilst also providing cross-cutting industry solutions for sustainability. 

Not to be outdone, ServiceNow has also been extremely vocal in encouraging its ISV partner ecosystem to create industry vertical solutions. The organisation itself announced last year its OT Management Solution for manufacturing organisations, alongside its intention to create industry vertical solutions for the banking, healthcare and life sciences.

So where is the value?

The value is no longer in just having a systems integrator or management consultancy that can lay down references in any given domain space and which can quote how many implementations they have done and how quickly they have done them. No-one gets a gold medal just because you can put a SaaS system in at record time and at the cheapest price, so be warned, the race to the bottom of the rate card never does you any favours in the long run, and SaaS is a long-term investment. 

Instead, the organisations that can bring to the table the blueprint for your given industry, backed by a relevant knowledge basis and an ongoing commitment to stay relevant as the business evolves either through legislation, industry practice or innovation, will be the winners for the future. Both the platform vendor and systems integrator landscapes are changing.

I, for one, know where my money is going to be.    

Published on May 26, 2022

Well, being honest it is not really an accident, but I always thought the title was really cool and have unashamedly plagiarised it for headline grabbing attention. However, on reflection I have always been an entrepreneur, it just took the first 15 years of my working life to realise it with the last 20+ years being a rollercoaster of a myriad of ups and downs, highs and lows, success and failure over four businesses.

This blog reflects on de Novo’s journey pioneering into the experience economy as we close out our first year of full trading and provide some insight into what it is like to re-climb the mountain that is building a successful sustainable business when you find yourself at the bottom looking up.

There are no short cuts, but experience increases your chances of success as you roll the dice.

So why go again after the success of Certus?

After spending a frustrating 18 months sitting at home, putting on weight, watching every TV box set there is and counting the days tick off from a punitive meaningless no-compete legal clause I needed to get back into the game for my own sanity.

A combination of meeting some wonderful entrepreneurs who I subsequently invested in (shout out to Emma Sinclair, Holly Stephens, Dean Shephard, Paul Shepherd, and Alex van Klaveren) and a visit from Mr Peter Jenkins inviting me to revisit the old stomping turf and our familiar joke around ‘Next year Rodney will be billionaires!’, was enough to put a smile back on my face, take a hard look again at the market for possibilities, and with encouragement make the phone call to my old partner in crime – Tim Warner.

I missed the everyday cut and thrust of our wonderful industry, and not being active was a massive disappointment.

Even more annoying and being brutally honest, I had a massive sense of jealously as others tried to take the ground Certus had previously filled, not in my opinion because they had done anything special, it was just we left a massive void in the Oracle eco-system in the UK when we were acquired. I fully acknowledge this is a negative place and I bare absolute no ill will to others, but you can get yourself into a very bad place mentally when you are inactive and for me the feeling of success had simply eluded me.

Unfinished business

Certus simply had too much unfinished business, and whilst extremely successful, much to mine (and others) endless frustration it did not achieve the greatness it always deserved. Missed opportunity! – absolutely.

Certus was never about just making money, it was about creating choice and challenging the status quo of the tier one management consultancies & systems integrators, breaking the monopoly, searching and demonstrating delivery excellence every single day and delighting our customers at every opportunity. Thinking out of the box was for us business as usual.

It was always about trying to be the very best we could be whilst always reaching for the stars. If we made our customers successful, we would be successful, plus having a lot of fun along the way. There is a lot to be said in being able to work alongside really good people every day whose company you like to be in and being able to smile and laugh together.

Instead of languishing in self-pity (first world problem!), I was brave and went to have a conversation with my wife Natalie to ask if I could try again. I caught her walking through the door when she took one look at my sheepish attempt to open my mouth for her to say ‘You’re going to start another business’ – it was a rhetorical question – busted!

Negotiations followed over a bottle or two of red, with terms agreed including moving back to South Wales to be nearer family as well as promising that the new venture regardless of outcome would be the very last one before we could enjoy a proper retirement together. There is always risk, and success is never guaranteed in this game.
Amazon swiftly delivered the first company assets the next day, being two whiteboards, crayons and stickies of various colours, shapes and sizes with myself commandeering the company’s first new HQ – the kitchen table, which was swiftly moved (under instruction) to the garage. Natalie meanwhile contributed by finding the company name – ‘de Novo’, which in Latin translated means ‘new’ and continues the Certus legacy.

New proposition for a new era

No point just recreating the past as the world has moved on. Pioneering into the experience economy was something I had been carefully watching and subconsciously plotting since late 2019 in the back of my mind.

This time we needed a much larger addressable target market, and my insatiable quest for knowledge and admiration of what Bill McDermott was starting to do when he arrived at ServiceNow just could not be ignored. However, equally knowing that Oracle SaaS Cloud not only remained the foundation of the enterprise, being the most complete and best product around but sooner or later Larry Ellison would also move into the experience economy as market momentum accelerated. This crystal ball prediction materialised in April 2022 with the launch of Oracle ME. (see The Conversation has Changed… | LinkedIn)

The market opportunity was clear, and my enforced sabbatical allowed me to conduct extensive research and further crystalise my own thinking. Numerous conversations followed, even being able to talk to the Godfather of the experience economy himself – Mr Joseph Pine, Harvard Professor, who with Pete Gilmore originated the phrase back in 1999! His research and thinking on the subject was simply twenty years ahead of everyone else.

You build not where the market is today, but where it’s going to be in 5 years’ time

It was clear we were entering a new era of SaaS Cloud, and de Novo was going to be at the front of this thinking in the UK&I, being able to create digital experiences by connecting front, middle and back offices, recognising employees do not work in functional silo’s. Just like a decade ago, we began creating a new language to differentiate ourselves.

The magic recipe in 5 simple steps

1.    Vision – create the vision, differentiated proposition and the backdrop story

2.    Build – focus on building a desirable brand from the outset – ‘quality over quantity’

3.    Fund – ‘cash is king’ – raise, inject, creating runway and time

4.    Assemble – bring together the very best people to turn concept into reality; good people always attract good people

5.    Hustle – leverage the network, let everyone know your back and find that first deal


The importance of governance

Being a Chief Executive can be a lonely job and the buck ultimately stops with you. With numerous stakeholders to keep constantly satisfied surrounding yourself with people that can constructively challenge you, offer insight and provide that sounding board is critical.

From the outset we moved to secure an extremely experienced Board of Directors led by Tim Warner as the Chairman, backed by Richard Summerfield, Chief People Officer of Hawksford and Clive Swan, former SVP Oracle Product Development to offer guidance and support, whilst always ensuring the necessary checks and balances were in place.

Having NED’s is not a vanity project but rather loading the deck of cards in our favour and increasing our chances of success.

Dealing with rejection

Dealing with rejection is all part of the journey. From losing a deal and we have lost several already (hey we were a bit rusty!), to someone deciding not to join after they had already said yes. But from experience, as one door closes another opens (even if it does need a nudge!).

We deal with disappointment transparently, learn where we can, and move on quickly. It is difficult, especially when people will not even give you a chance, but that says more about them than it does about us.

Doing what we do is not for everyone, and you must taste defeat to know how to win.

The Power of Alumni

Being part of building something special is a very powerful aphrodisiac. It is an addictive drug. The power of a collective vision reaches out to natural human behaviour of wanting to be part of something.

So, it comes as no surprise to build a successful company we immediately went back and surrounded ourselves with as many of the same people from the #certusalumni network as we could, injecting immediately the experience into the organisation from the outset.

Some, quite understandably, did not want to come on the journey again – the Certus legacy casts a long shadow. However, it has been pleasing to see we had a rush of the ex-Certus alumni wanting to be involved, showing the hunger and passion to build something and are prepared to make sacrifices and take risks – that’s our DNA!

For some the timing is not right just now, however the market and opportunity wait for no-one, and we continue to push ahead whilst leaving the door always open for our alumni to join when they are ready later.

Equally we also are looking for new blood and new ideas to stimulate our thinking and push the company to greater heights!

Thinking sh*t up days! – Real value creation

Personally, I enjoy this more than anything and for me it’s the best part of being part of a team. Back to basics, around a whiteboard, just throwing ideas up, the majority falling away, but then some gold emerges and collectively an idea turns into a hypothesis, then a concept and from that into product and/or service offering, and hopefully into revenue. Once the idea is partially crystalised we just go out and sell it.

Serendipity also sometimes unexpectedly intervenes and shines a light on a potential opportunity into a new market sector perhaps often overlooked or never even considered.

It just proves as I have always said you don’t need a swanky innovation lab in the centre of London but it does help if you have plenty of coffee and cake!

No Free Pass back to the top of the mountain – 365 days of tale of the tape

And for those in business development the job is not about managing a procurement process, it is about solving someone’s pain points and generating value. You need to originate – bang on doors (occasionally kick the door in!), network and engage through conversation both face-to-face and digitally through social media. Sales do not just appear! – phone calls, digitally posting and shoe leather are the order of the day, every day, so hustle.

To win our first deal it took 6 months and…

Tenacity, hard work and simply bloody mindlessness, proving doubters wrong and suddenly you find the pipeline coverts and you have a different ‘quality problem’ to solve…

The future is full of opportunity

We are now well beyond start-up with momentum building day-by-day with the de Novo brand established and being recognised. We have beaten the odds again that only one company in ten makes it successfully through its first trading year, and that is cause for celebration.

Any new business needs support, and I cannot thank enough those whether being ex-employees, suppliers, partners or former / current clients and of course both Oracle and ServiceNow who were prepared to help us get started again. It is something we all very much appreciate.

What we are all building here at de Novo is something special, it is not a flash in the pan, and it is going to take time to nurture. I can feel the same buzz as in the early days of Certus, and whilst different, de Novo already feels special. We are not trying to build the biggest company in the world, but we are on the mission for building the very best company we can be.

It is hard work, but it is also incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. We have always said ‘if you come and work with us, no matter how good you think you are, we will make you better’. It’s a bold statement, and not only is it true, but it raises our own game and in doing so we all become better!

My undying thanks for Peter Jenkins for being the magician in the background, Tim Warner, Clive Swan, and Richard Summerfield for their faith and support, and most of all Ian Carline, Tara Dewar, Alex Alexandru, Craig Roch and Hayley Dobson who were prepared to make the jump at the beginning, unleashing their internal entrepreneurial spirit, pioneering into the #expereinceeconomy and being the DNA of #wearedenovo.

Finally, a shout out to our ever-expanding wonderful workforce, my thanks for coming on the journey and respect to all of you.

And of course, Mrs Natalie Sweeny (aka the honorary ‘first lady of de Novo’) for all her love and support. Could not have done it without you.

Game on – here we come, ignore us at your peril, we are not going away!

Published on April 22, 2022

New Equation for a New Era of Empowerment

After nearly 18 months sabbatical from writing LinkedIn blogs and the positive response I received from my returning article The Conversation has Changed… | LinkedIn based upon Oracle’s announcement of #OracleME, sitting in the glorious sunshine over this past Easter weekend I wanted to share my understanding further of what the experience economy really means, what the impact really is and why everyone should be paying attention.

Consider this the follow-up to ‘Change the Conversation’ and the number one insight that we use with our own employees to drive #wearedenovo.

For those organisations that have not started their SaaS Cloud journey, let me be candid, you are now a whole decade of innovation behind those who have already transitioned, with some of your competitors not even being in business anymore. In the majority of cases, this is down to their failure to stay relevant to their market as they did not digitally transform or provide their clientele with the experiences they demanded and valued.

For those that are just starting their journey but have the simplistic mindset of ‘lets just replace our legacy systems and move to the Cloud’, you’re thinking is still in the wrong place! However, if you are thinking and wanting to change the conversation by talking about creating new experiences for customers and employees, learning from insights and driving outcomes then I am pleased to say you are very much in the right place and it is definitely a conversation I want to have with you! So, let’s explore this…

So what does the experience economy really mean?

Put simply it means user empowerment.

Successful SaaS Cloud implementations are all about adoption as they are transformational, but it is by empowering the end user to take full advantage of what is available that unlocks the value over the long term.

SaaS Cloud is evolving at pace and whilst the foundation stone of any enterprise should remain a single instance ERP system, the industry platform vendors have acknowledged that the vast majority of employees do not work inside functional silos, with the operational processes required to deliver services to customers and/or citizens cutting across the organisation. Specifically, we have gone beyond HR/HCM siloed Cloud systems and are now in the era of ‘experience platforms’.

Such technology advancement allows us to create personalised experiences over standardised processes, and with the rise of the no code low code, ai, machine learning and digital workflows supported by advanced analytics we are now able to technically deliver faster than ever before.

My prediction remains that in only in a few years’ time these systems will self-configure, render and deliver the relevant individual experience to a user in the very moment it is required. Consequently, the technology turns data into accurate timely insightful information to facilitate informed decision making in the moment.

The technology capability now exists to enable the Client themselves to create new experiences and react quickly to a change in circumstances. Have we been promised this all before? Yes we have, but this time it is real and it exists.

Systems Integrators beware the role is changing, as SaaS Cloud technology matures, new ways of adding value need to be found – ‘The bums on seats model is definitely in the twilight era’.

Shout out to the Mouse! – the ultimate experience case study.

Disney, has to be the ultimate experience case study and I find myself time and time again referring to Walt Disney’s biography.

Forget technology and think laterally about the human experience. Walt Disney recognised as far back in the 1960’s the need to create engaging ‘magical’ experiences for those visiting his amusement parks. His focus being to capture and hold a customer’s interest not just whilst at the park in the moment, but also afterwards in the memory.

In the experience economy, the memories, emotions and feelings that customers take away are ultimately what matters most. Products and services become commoditised over time; they are copied by competitors and lose their differentiation and value.

Disney fundamentally understood this and went about creating a brand and product portfolio that could not be copied lightly. However, fundamental to everything was his employees as they were and still are today the primary delivery channel of the experience to the customer.


So how is this achieved? Disney empowers its employees in delighting their customers at every opportunity. Creating magical memories, pulling on emotions. This is subsequently monetized.

Even to this day Disney make queuing an absolute art form through the power of constant distraction! and they even monetize this by cross and up-selling through merchandise kiosks en-route before and after the main attraction.

So lets take these concepts and apply this to the 21st century digital experience economy.

Technology is the Enabler, but Culture needs to foster empowerment to realise the value

Technology extends the core ERP system into the middle office and beyond, albeit at this point you really do move into the hybrid SaaS Cloud scenario. However, putting the technology to one side as it really becomes totally irrelevant if an organisation’s culture does not empower its employees to innovate and foster a programme of continuous improvement into its DNA, using the power of the experience and insight through the tools that the vendors are making available. This is real cutting-edge transformation seen daily.

To get better at anything we must be curious, constantly question the status quo, seeking improvement by creating new experiences that our customers and/or citizens demand and value.

Employees serve customers, therefore both experiences matter and converge.

I am going to cheat at this point as I cannot better the research findings from Gartner, so lets just insert a small cut and paste with due credit applied…

The Gartner Research Report conducted by Jason Wong, Michael Chiu, Gavin Tay, and Brent Stewart (26 May 2020) states ‘The shift toward digital business can be seen as largely being about creating new business models and innovations that allow companies to alter their products and services through information and digital technologies. Not only must digital be a building block of CX, but It must also be foundational to your EX.

In this digital experience economy, in order for companies to earn their share of the positive feelings, emotions and memories, they need to compete for attention and time. Attention and time are precious because we, as customers and employees and users of technology, only have so much time in the day and we can only give so much attention at any given moment. Any wasted motion or non-value-added feature unnecessarily steals the user’s attention and consumes their time’.

Consequently, we have end-to-end digital convergence.

Market Indicators – Seismic Shift

Salesforce, ServiceNow, Microsoft and now Oracle are all pushing the narrative. For one of them to do it is differentiation within a market, for all of them to do it is a market shift. Those I have not mentioned, are behind the 8-ball. In my opinion the shift is seismic and only going to accelerate.

Microsoft are pushing hard industry vertical solutions, ServiceNow are innovating more and more across the front and middle-office, Salesforce announcements look to re-engineer whole industries from the customer experience perspective, and Oracle now have Oracle Me – punching outwards and across from the functional silos of the ERP market. It will be interesting now to watch the marketing messages of these vendors as we move into the second half of 2022, and for me, how the Systems Integrators marketing adapts (or not!).

Take a Moment

So before you sign that big cheque to your chosen platform vendor alongside that significant investment in an implementation partner, ask yourself one question ‘where do you want to be in seven years’ time?’ and do your chosen partners share and understand that vision to such an extent they can constantly, consistently deliver and unlock value to you in the experience economy to help you arrive at your destination as both your business, the technology and both your employees and customers evolve.

The bragging days around who can implement the system the quickest (aka ‘turning the lights on’) is a false economy and has always been a load of nonsense, a figment of imagination of the vendor marketing departments who have never ever undertaken an implementation.

However, if you still decide to follow this route and don’t look upon the transition to Cloud as an opportunity to transform your business to create experiences that empowers your employees to delight customers and citizens, then given the body of evidence available, I have little sympathy when you later say ‘we are not getting value out of our SaaS platform’
We are already at an inflection point in the vendor landscape regarding experience platform evolution and consequently we have arrived at a new equation for a new era:

Experience Economy = Empowerment

Why? because empowerment means choice, and all great experiences are rich in data in the moment. So, the more we encourage the workforce to be curious, take control and look for improvement, the greater the opportunity for digitalisation but in the context of the user experience at a specific moment in time. The future of the employee experience is now, but without the culture of empowerment, maximising value through the return on investment will never be achieved. Think Disney and add digital into the mix!

One thing is for sure, this story is not over yet not by a long way…

#oracle #oraclecloud #saas #cloud #oraclehcmcloud #oracleerpcloud #oracleme #experienceeconomy #servicenow #salesforce #microsoft #digital #digitaltransformation #digitalbusiness #wearedenovo #empowerment 

Published on April 14, 2022

Oracle Evolves Again with Oracle Me

It only seemed like yesterday I wrote my last blog article, in-fact it was 11th January 2021!, I have been so busy with de Novo (#wearedenovo) and my obligations to the wonderful ERP Today, that I have just not had time to write. However, after a great night out with the #Certusalumni – the original pioneers of Oracle SaaS Cloud – Ian Carline, Richard Atkins and Rob English along with an alcohol induced headache and watching todays announcement from Oracle regarding Oracle Me, I was inspired to metaphorically put pen to paper and write…

Change the Conversation

‘Change the conversation’ a phrase that I have heard and used many times myself. When pioneering, searching for new ideas, seeking out new markets and looking for the next opportunity or market trend, you can easily get dragged back into what is the status quo and existing market behaviours.

The ability to find inspiration can come from the most unlikely of sources, something you remember from years ago, something you read, something you discuss with friends over a bottle of wine in a restaurant (thank heavens we can do the most normal of normal things again), something on a side of a bus?

Studying market behaviour in the technology industry I personally find fascinating. A market of many stakeholders – buyers and sellers from platform vendors, system integrators, ISV’s and of course customers to name just a few. Behind all of this you cannot ignore the VC’s, Private Equity and the Business Angels, providing the much-needed risk capital to fuel innovation.

Understanding and seeing what resonates, whilst also watching the latest trend as it comes and goes, and most importantly identifying the cyclical pattern which many do not even consider let alone embrace to their advantage is fundamental in determining a winning proposition.

Evolution of the Experience Economy – Its Happening in front of Us!

I have now been writing, let alone investing money and time (the most valuable of assets) in the #experienceeconomy for over two years now. Slowly but surely, through the delivery of new technology capability and the focus on deep personalisation within industry vertical solutions, the playing field we know as the enterprise, or more specifically enterprise resource planning (ERP) is changing.

Being an systems implementer with industry domain experience, references, people with vendor certifications and an ability to compete effectively on price (don’t get me started on that!) has been ‘table stakes’ for years. Somewhere along the line SaaS became a commodity play and everyone forgot about value creation.

Regardless, the industry has moved on, and whilst significant amounts of buyer education still needs to be undertaken, the move to delivering industry vertical solutions by personalised experiences over standardised business processes is gaining more and more traction.

Salesforce has always been in the mix; ServiceNow fundamentally changed as a company and its positioning using its Now technology platform; as well as Microsoft becoming more and more vocal around industry solutions have unquestionably all been leading the way.

Finally, Oracle or ‘big red’ as I still refer to it, has awoken and firmly announced its direction of travel having to recognise the need to be more active in an ever changing game, and the need to respond effectively to the onslaught of experience platforms over the past two years from the competition.

The Importance of Oracle Me Announcement – Empowering the Client’s People

Crystal ball prediction time and I stress again that this is just my personal opinion.

What we have seen with Oracle’s public announcement today, is a whole lot more than more SaaS product innovation with Oracle Me. In a single word its ’empowerment!’.

Whilst it always takes time for Oracle to pivot, its resources are frankly unlimited and it has the ability to gain momentum quickly and accelerate pass the competition. Often this is when Oracle is at its most dangerous as a competitor.

We have seen this several times before, from the days of on-premise, to most recently in what was the first era of the Cloudwars with Workday which seemed miles ahead, only for Oracle eventually to power past as it delivered a single unified system in ERP, HCM, Payroll and SCM together, whilst adding Digital Assistant very early on. Anyone in the ERP ecosystem will tell you, the suite play always trumps best of breed in a back-office enterprise, and Oracle achieved this with aplomb and continues to do so to this day.

Oracle through Oracle ME is recognising the hybrid Cloud era and providing the tools for connectively, communication and collaboration that are required to deliver employee experiences that matter that go way beyond the transactional base of a SaaS Cloud ERP system. A place I will argue where Workday is still at, and SAP is still getting there – they seemed to miss the first Cloud era altogether. These Vendors however are no longer the competition.

Most importantly the Oracle ME tools buy-in to the low code, no code platform concept and empower the Client to take control of its configuration. Systems Integrators beware!

Today, with the announcement of Oracle ME, it is just as an important announcement as when Oracle firstly announced Fusion SaaS back in 2011!

Oracle is publicly signalling awareness, accepting the landscape is changing, and acknowledging to stay relevant it needs to evolve. This is how I interpret events today, and April 2022 is a time I would suggest that everyone will point back to in years to come.

In essence, Oracle has changed the conversation about their product offerings in one go. The #experienceeconomy isn’t about technology platforms, it’s about creating digital experiences that empowers individuals to undertake a task or action efficiently and effectively at any given moment in time, recognising that the majority of people do not work in functional silos. Oracle Me does that, the prediction being that Oracle repositions itself selling personalised industry solutions.

It will be interesting now to see if my prediction comes true, but if it does, as far as Oracle is concerned it started today. Game on…

#oracle #oraclecloud #saas #cloud #oraclehcmcloud #oracleerpcloud #experienceeconomy #digital #digitaltransformation #oracleme #wearedenovo

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. In addition, my thoughts and opinions change from time to time and I consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind. This blog is intended to provide a semi-permanent point in time and as such any thoughts or opinions expressed within out of date posts may not be the same or similar to those that I hold today.

Double trouble for this digital edition so I thought I would pull in some additional expertise and commentary again from Libby Mason, recognised organisation and change management expert. So, here’s another episode from the Mark and Libby show…

Over the last 18 months we have seen the constant rise in the industry narrative from the SaaS cloud platform providers regarding the importance of delivering ‘experiences that matter’. Historically this narrative was heavily focussed on the end customer, but with a tectonic shift in how we manage our work and our workforce there is a wave of experience platforms which are now focussed on the employee as the customer.

SaaS ERP cloud over the past decade has delivered capability through leading business processes; whilst this is no longer new, it provides the foundation of any enterprise change as this becomes the base for future innovation. We have seen in the last few months that even the likes of Oracle, which is clearly one, if not the market leader of ERP and HCM SaaS cloud technology reacting to the relentless onslaught from the likes of Salesforce and ServiceNow with its ‘Oracle journeys’ in regard to the experience economy.

The gathering momentum around delivering relevant, timely and easy to access experiences to employees is fast becoming an element in any company’s competitive advantage. This is becoming the new benchmark in the digital world. Organisations in both public and private sectors are now making the link between improved employee and business performance, enabled by SaaS cloud platforms, delivering better services to their end customer by enabling their own workforce to do their jobs effectively. 

Future blueprint – building value through great experiences 

Whilst everyone seems naturally to dive immediately into ‘digital journey mapping’, which is a necessary activity and usually accommodated by a nice set of PowerPoint slides, let’s step back and address the basics.

Start with the end 

A lot of organisations fall into the trap of buying shiny new tools and then going to find problems to fix with them without really understanding which challenges are the most important to solve or which opportunities to prioritise. Cloud is a journey; you’re not going to get there all at once, so start with the experiences that are most important to building value and momentum for your organisation and determine which parts of those experiences are critical to quality. It will be different for every organisation and will span every process area from recruitment and onboarding, to procurement, to invoicing. Consider what you need to get right to succeed.

Cloud is a journey; you’re not going to get there all at once

Get your business model right 

Even when technology is deployed in the right way, if the operating model isn’t right, and the right employees are neither empowered nor have the right skills to do their jobs, then organisations can’t succeed. The people and organisational side of the equation is and always will be just as important. Experience platforms depend on having the right people doing the work, in the right place in the organisation, with the right skills and behaviours – getting this aligned up-front means we need to consider how to adapt our business to work in a new way. It will mean new roles, new skills, new behaviours and a new business logic to drive enhanced workflows.

The cloud SaaS design principle of ‘adopt, not adapt’ has not gone away. You need to decide up-front which technology platform’s processes you wish to ‘adopt’ as they all work differently – a ‘vendor agnostic’ strategy when designing the operating model only leads to significant rework. It’s like putting the cart before the horse, so don’t sit on the fence, as technology platform choice is not something you should kick down the road.

This is not an easy transition to make for many organisations. Trusting and empowering employees at the right levels in organisations is the best way to reduce unnecessary hand offs and eliminate waste in processes. This means challenging traditional approaches to managing control and often means reshaping individual and whole teams’ roles and accountabilities.  

Understanding organisational maturity will help to prioritise investment in upskilling and improving in areas where the experiences will have the greatest impact. 

Understand the data and get it right 

The data architecture of an organisation is absolutely critical. How many times do we come across poor quality data being held in siloed applications? For experience platforms to deliver genuine value, organisations need to spend more time thinking about the data model (including the end-to-end business logic like workflows, approvals). 

At a minimum, deploying an ERP SaaS cloud system becomes the first step in capturing and maintaining standardised datasets through the execution of standardised business processes. Elements to consider: 

For employees to be effective in the moment, they need the right data at their fingertips enabling informed decision making. 

Who is leading the way?

Done correctly, successful organisations: focus on business outcomes; break down delivery silos; create positive employee experiences without frustration and perceived bureaucracy; and consider human behaviours alongside technology fit. Examples include: 

Lloyds Bank deployed ServiceNow to address the problem of managing complex IT infrastructure across 100,000 people where data fragmentation across such organisations is commonplace in the financial services industry. Lloyds now has a cohesive view of its critical business processes. This has led not only to significant improvements in control, cost reduction and regulatory compliance but more importantly it has empowered employees, reducing frustration in the process! It also now has an experience platform for building continuous improvement across all areas of the business beyond the back-office enterprise.

Unilever is another example of an organisation which is leading the way in unifying the employee experience across its ERP/HCM cloud estate. Salesforce is deployed as the seamless engagement layer over their estate to simplify employee interaction, whilst still taking advantage of SaaS standardised business processes. This strategy has significantly improved employee productivity and reduced the reliance on employee helpdesks.

Eye on the prize

Experience platforms offer the potential to unlock significant value, enabling organisations to deliver performance enhancing services to their employees. This prize can only be achieved when you understand what is important to your organisation; know the cloud SaaS technology you are going to deploy and put in place an operating model and the data you need to support achieving that ambition. Without it, you will be left wondering why you’re not getting the value and what is wrong with the technology……spoiler alert, it’s not the technology!    

Trusting and empowering employees at the right levels in organisations is the best way to reduce unnecessary hand offs and eliminate waste in processes

Mark Sweeny, founder and chief executive, de Novo Solutions 
Libby Mason, founder, Alluvion Consulting

As Featured in ERP Today | Written by Paul Esherwood, Editor in Chief, ERP Today

Can a new entrant change the game in the experience economy?

Getting the band back together is not always a prudent idea. How many times have we seen legends reform in their twilight years only to undo their previous good work and rewrite their legacy with a failed attempt at making it again? Pink Floyd (Momentary Lapse of Reason), The Pixies (Indy Cindy), Guns ‘N Roses (Chinese Democracy) and Queen (The Cosmos Rocks), to name just a few, have all tarnished their position in history with comebacks that were a pale comparison to their heyday. 

There are exceptions of course. Bowie aged like a fine wine after his evolution from Ziggy Stardust. The Detours reformed into the legendary, The Who. Even Take That, post Robbie, became credible following their unlikely comeback. There are plenty of other things that are better the second time round too – but that’s a conversation for another day.

So how does this music analogy translate into the tech world? Well, one of the industry’s most recognisable characters is starting over in an attempt to recreate some of the magic he enjoyed with his previous business, Certus Solutions.

Read the full article on ERP Today here.