I often get asked by organisations looking at implementing different types of Food Safety Management systems whether or not they should only buy the software and try to work out how to use it themselves.
Some products, people tell me, look as if a bit of trial and error and simply entering some dummy data is sufficient to get an understanding of how they work whilst others seem to be more complicated and require some kind of training and setup. Surely the people should be interested in buying these simple dummy data systems and not use complex products?
Is it really your business objective to make the new system work?
When I get asked questions of this sort about Safefood 360° my initial response to people is not to answer their question directly but to ask them a question myself. I typically ask “what are your business objectives in buying Food Safety Management software?” This is actually a very simple but important question because it determines what someone thinking of implementing a FSM system should do next!
The answers I receive are usually along the lines of “we want to reduce paperwork, increase efficiency, improve reporting, ensure that GFSI standards are properly applied in the business, reduce the risk of product recalls and brand damage…” and what’s important is to have a clear objective established when making a decision to purchase a FSM product and most companies do. I don’t hear responses like “because it would be fun to do” or “we haven’t got any other projects this year so we thought we’d have a go at Food Safety.”
Three questions we need to answer first
Given that businesses are not just putting in a food safety platform for their amusement, the question then we should be focusing on is how important is it for companies to achieve their stated business objective, whatever it is? We usually have three further questions at this point:
- “How important is it that the project succeeds?”
- “What are the consequences of the project failing?”
- “How will you declare success?”
As a deliverer of top quality FSM solutions it’s a major priority for us to work with companies who answer “Yes” and “Serious” to the first two questions and who have a clear understanding of the third question, and, for the vast majority of FBOs (Food Business Operations) looking at our solutions this is their position.
In other words if neither the success or failure of the project are particularly important business outcomes for the business and they don’t really know what success looks like then we’re probably not really that interested in partnering with them to implement a solution.
However, it’s only the answer to the third that sets the winners from losers. In the absence of a good understanding of the third question people will only succeed in turning the software ‘on’ and certainly not in having it deliver transformational value to their businesses.
Services complete the solution
So where do professional services fit into this situation and why are they important? From our perspective we have a simple equation which is:
SF360° Software + Services = Food Safety Management Solution
Which is clearly different from: SF360° Software = Food Safety Management Solution
In simple terms, our Services transform what is already a sophisticated Food Safety Management toolkit into a precisely configured solution for each and every company that deploys it.
Delivering an effective enterprise software solution
To deliver an effective software solution in any kind of enterprise environment consultants need to go through the following steps:
- Business Analysis which involves understanding the customer’s objectives, what they want the business outcome of the project to be, and how success will be declared on the ‘go live’ day, go live plus 60 and go live plus 90.
- Mapping out how the company will move from how it does things at the moment in the context of food safety to its desired business outcome through fulfilling the various objectives which have been declared in the project on the way.
- Configuring the software from the vanilla toolkit to a precisely tailored solution for each individual customer.
- Extracting, transforming and loading data from the current environment (software or paper based) into the new solution.
- Training the team how to use the new solution such as designing the reports, etc.
- Assisting them with the ‘go live’ process, the feedback from this, and then the subsequent iterations of improvements to the operation of the solution in the business.
The difference between an app and enterprise software
Now it’s certainly not true to say that every single piece of software deployed requires an array of services to go with it! For example, if I start to use WhatsApp as a communication channel with my colleagues we do not really need a professional services project to deploy it.
The reason for this is obvious to most people – WhatsApp is an App, not a communication toolkit. An App has a relatively limited number of predefined functions which the average user can work out through a process of trial and error. The app only has a single use.
On the other hand, whilst a Corporate Supplier Management Solution for a global food distribution group and a HACCP plan for a single site poultry processor are both Food Safety Management solutions, they are vastly different in scope and deployment and are examples of the versatile nature of an enterprise platform like Safefood360°.
You can’t deploy enterprise software by trial and error
When deploying an enterprise solution of any sort a process of trial and error has a minutely small chance of delivering the company’s objective from when they bought the software, there are just too many variables and ways of configuring the toolkit to make it remotely likely that the user will stumble across the optimum deployment.
So, for us then, why do we think Professional Services are so important? It comes down to one phrase: Delivering the Business Outcome.
You need professional services for delivering the desired Business Outcome
Software with service gives the desired outcome
Services are essential for a successful project. Complexity, flexibility, and scope are always required in an enterprise solution deployment. As Safefood360° is a huge toolkit it’s unlikely it can be mastered through trial and error. Our support helps you maximize the value of your investment.
We work with our customers to understand what their business objective in deploying Safefood360° is, and we entirely believe that by correctly defining and executing the deployment with the customer we can jointly ensure their business outcome is met.
Software + Services gives the desired business outcome whilst Software – Services = a shot in the dark! That’s simply a risk that most serious businesses are not prepared to take and so a properly deployed solution involving professional services is an absolute must.
Our most successful clients are those that consider this equation. Amongst these, those that are really successful are where the business leaders have also asked themselves another question, “How do we get our people involved early in the project?” but that’s a question worth answering another time!