We live in times of rapid change, and with the ongoing emergence of new technologies, many IT departments are under pressure to undergo digital transformations. As organizations face significant challenges such as rising stakeholder expectations, flat or declining budgets, or increased globalization, they are turning to IT to shape their business future. We spoke to Tabia MacDonald, our Digital Advisory Manager at SysGen about the Digital Advisory services, approach, methodology, and benefits. Read on to gain insights about the Digital Advisory services!
Can you describe briefly what SysGen can offer to our clients through Digital Advisory?
Yes, of course. With Digital Advisory, there are four main categories that we work on with our clients.
We start with strategy; SysGen helps clients develop a strategic digital transformation roadmap to implement in their organization. This roadmap is always aligned with the client’s goals and visions. When clients reach out to SysGen Digital Advisory, they’re looking to go through a digital transformation that normally involves focusing on customer experience, improving efficiency and decision-making. We try to provide a sense of security with our clients and ask what their priority is and base our recommendations on that. With the help of our customized roadmap that we specifically customize, the client can go through this journey strategically.
Digital Advisory also provides project-based support; this ranges from helping companies select new applications, to implementing them into the business, to optimizing the applications they currently use. For example, if our client needs to replace their ERP or CRM system and doesn’t know how to do so, that’s when we provide our services. After understanding what they need, we go to the market and find the appropriate product. From there we guide the client on how to implement the product for their business, as well as training and support on how to use it.
We also help clients prepare data to be uploaded to the software. We provide a systematic analysis and prepare their data to go into the system. Sometimes the client has applications that haven’t been optimized. We also help clients understand the benefits and justify the costs for these applications.
We also help clients justify costs and realize the benefits of software investments. Sometimes the client has applications that haven’t been optimized or properly adopted in the organization. We can help clients with change management and software optimization to ensure full adoption and benefits realization of the IT investment.
Finally, Digital Advisory provides ongoing support. When clients already have products in place, we help make sure these products work properly. We help manage their applications such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, etc. While the products they have may not be customized, we help by configuring the software they must make it work optimally for their business.
Thanks for the extensive description. Now, can you take us through Digital Advisory’s methodology?
The best way to do this would be through an example; let’s say a company needs a new finance system for their internal use. First and foremost, we’d complete a Needs Assessment. We document what they’re using today and discuss what they need to implement. We focus on their requirements and categorize them into their must-haves, would-haves, could-haves. and should-haves. We compare products for them in an objective way and evaluate whether the products would be a good fit for their company. The Needs Assessment is a critical piece that we do to appropriately select the right product for our clients.
The second step is solution selection; we what option would provide the best solution?” and evaluate whether the products would be a good fit for their company. At this stage, we provide a minimum of two recommendations. After the recommendations, the client chooses which product they want and purchases the required products. During this stage, we also work with vendors to negotiate pricing and products. We guide our clients through every step of the way.
Finally, we provide client-side implementation support, including system analysis side, we get the data and systems ready to make sure the client’s business can welcome the products they want to implement. We also conduct a product/software business analysis to optimize processes and provide change-management support. This can move into sustainment; once the product is in place, we can provide ongoing regular support for the product and its requirements.
Are you affiliated with certain products or services when it comes to offering Digital Advisory services? If yes/no, why not?
That’s kind of a yes and a no answer (laughs). When we go to select products for our clients, we are product-agnostic; this means that what we’re doing will be based on the Needs Assessment. We learn what their requirements are, do the research and make the best recommendations for the client. Oftentimes they have a niche market. For example, if they’re a theater company and are looking for a specific theater application, and we’re not affiliated with any, then we’ll do our research and look for the one that works best for them.
We do have specific in-house expertise such as SharePoint, Teams and other applications. So, if our clients have requirements that these products can fulfill, we will offer them SharePoint and Teams. Essentially, it depends on the situation, hence the yes/no answer.
Based on your experience in managing Digital Advisory, why should a company engage the Digital Advisory team for their business?
SysGen’s client-base is small to medium-sized businesses and a lot of these companies don’t have the in-house expertise to support digital transformation. This means they don’t have a business analyst or systems analyst on staff. What I’ve seen is that businesses of this size give the task of digital transformation to someone internal such as their CFO or COO. Sometimes this poses a new challenge because these individuals already have a full-time job and may not be fully equipped to implement a full digital transformation.
What I’ve seen in the past is that a new product will be implemented at a company, but unfortunately not all departments will adopt it because it may not meet their departmental requirements. When this happens, other departments implement other products. In the end, you get multiple different products with the same function in the same company.
Another concern is that when the CFO/COO is working on implementing the products while also doing a full-time job, they get burnt out. This may result in high turnover, which will affect company dynamics.
Before you reach this point, it’s good to engage with Digital Advisory to plan together for a successful outcome. Our Digital Advisory team is qualified because we adhere to industry standards. For example, our Business Analysts observe the guidelines of the International Institute of Business Analysis, which is the BABOK®. We also adhere to best practices for the rest of our team and we stay up to date with certifications.
In Digital Advisory, we try our best to help clients fill in the gaps, meet their goals and implement the products they want. Most of the time, our clients won’t need to hire a full-time Business Analyst and hiring part-time positions may not be the most effective solution for digital transformation at their business. With Digital Advisory, we help by providing our Business Analyst and the rest of the team to fill in those gaps.
That’s awesome. Can you tell us about an instance of a past/current client where they benefited from using Digital Advisory services for their business?
Currently, we’re working on many Teams adoption initiatives for our clients. You can do a lot with the Microsoft Teams platform and due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Microsoft has launched Teams automatically with their products. Many companies are engaging SysGen to implement Microsoft Teams to enable work-from-home collaboration. There’s a certain level of risk with turning on Teams without completing a needs assessment to determine governance or guidelines around it. Teams is a transformative platform where people can collaborate, store files, and work on all kinds of things. However, using Teams can get very disorganized very fast. Before this happens, Digital Advisory works with the client to decide firsthand what kind of use they want to get out of Teams.
It’s happened before that when a client started using Teams, twelve new teams were created within twenty-four hours because there was no governance or administrative controls in place. The twelve teams weren’t necessary, and we had to step in and mitigate the risks by limiting access to who can create teams in Teams. If we approach the Teams adoption by understanding the business needs first, we can then slowly implement additional functionality without introducing risk or disorganization to the business. For example, by driving the adoption of the Teams chat, meetings and screen share functions first to support our clients to work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Another example is SharePoint. Some businesses do not know that there’s a designated amount of storage included in their licensing, and businesses can run into storage issues and overage charges if they try to move all company files into SharePoint. Before it gets to this point, Digital Advisory can help businesses with planning and deciding whether SharePoint migration.
Do you have any last-minute take-home thoughts you want to share with us about the Digital Advisory services?
Yes! Digital transformation is important for companies to stay competitive. To do this, organizations need a strategic approach. The goals and vision for digital transformation must be aligned with company goals. When this occurs, a cohesive pathway will form for the company to successfully achieve digital transformation.
Get to know Tabia, our Digital Advisory Manager at SysGen!
As the Digital Advisory Manager at SysGen, Tabia’s personal motto is “learn something new and find something to laugh about every day.” She is passionate about facilitating employee and business success through data-centric decision making, continuous process improvements, mentoring and change management. As the Digital Advisory Manager at SysGen, Tabia understands first-hand the importance of aligning technology to the business to ensure strategic fit. She is committed to supporting customer business goals and objectives through integrated services that provide the roadmap and methodology to move from the “as-is” state to the “to-be” vision.
Tabia holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Calgary, a Business Analysis Certificate from Mount Royal University & a Change Management Certificate from Prosci Canada. She also achieved her Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®) from the International Institute of Business Analysis™ (IIBA®) which is an internationally recognized designation for business analysis standards. Tabia is a non-competitive runner and has even completed a few triathlons! Tabia is an aspiring metalsmith and jeweller who, time permitting, can be found in her basement workshop fabricating custom jewellery.
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