Control Tower Success: Six Critical Steps to Ensure Your Project Thrives

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Our partner Celestica recently published the following article, ‘Six Steps to Ensure your Control Tower Project is Successful’. The author, Rebecca Schriver, Global Director, Supply Chain Solutions at Celestica, describes the six critical success factors to ensuring control tower projects are delivered on-time with strong end-user support.

Developing a successful control tower to manage your supply chain can be a significant undertaking. But through Celestica’s experiences in leading control tower projects, they’ve learned some valuable, hard-won lessons. If you’re considering a control tower project, we’ve pulled together Rebecca’s six lessons to harness the power of data to make faster, smarter and better decisions about your supply chain.

  1. Listen to the Data In traditional control tower projects, months can be spent developing data extracts in source systems before loading them into the application. Instead, try a rough-cut load using manual file inputs at the start of a project. It’s a lot quicker and helps indicate where data transformations will be required, highlights upfront technical and design challenges and validates the business process and requirements.
  2. Requirements Gathering – Changing the approach In Celestica’s experience, users seldom identify requirements well, and even when they do, their IT counterparts aren’t likely to perceive it all correctly. Consider the following:
    • Keep requirements gathering simple—illustrate with mock-ups instead of long wordy documents. Also, use data as part of the requirements-gathering approach to validate expected outcomes.
    • Understand the end-to-end business process as well as the inputs and outputs.
    • Outline and understand the overall objectives and key value drivers to ensure you are delivering a differentiating value from what the business uses today.
    • Prototyping as part of requirements validation enables development teams to get a greater understanding of how the development items must come together and what technical challenges are ahead.
  3. Data TransformationFocusing on the data that matters We can’t stress enough the importance of aligned data! For most projects this is going to be the number one factor in success. It’s also going to be one of the most time-consuming. Making use of tools and technology that create faster development cycles can reduce development by several weeks and improve the effectiveness of user testing. It’s a lot easier for testers to spot any potential pitfalls early on if they see real data in action.
  4. End-to-End Design Vision – The drive to start developing right away After prototyping, don’t dive right into development—as tempting as it may be from a timeline perspective. Take the necessary time to understand the end-to-end design of the entire control tower project. Run through how you want the control tower to function and how data will flow through the system. And make sure the entire business team is involved. Collaboration is key! Taking sufficient time at this stage will help avoid potential data integration pitfalls.
  5. The Development Cycle – Build, align, repeat A staggering 56% of IT projects don’t deliver on the intended benefits (2012 Mckinsey/Oxford). An effective way to manage this is to use an iterative development approach in which the development work list is broken down into two-week sprints of effort, with continuous communication to business teams through playbacks. This approach also validates that the solution is still on track to meet those requirements you determined in step two (you did do that already didn’t you?). Be sure the playbacks have appropriate context and what is showed can be related back to the business process.
  6. Managing Adoption – Invest upfront and don’t walk away The going may be tough at times, but it’s important to stick with it. Ensuring successful early adoption will go a long way in making sure your control tower project is successful. So how do you achieve that adoption? Invest early in super users and key influencers and use them as advocates. Design with the lowest-level end user in mind so the system is easy to use and easier to understand. Train all users, both at go-live and beyond, and make sure training materials are accessible. It’s also vital you’ve pre-defined the metrics for adoption, and communicated them to the entire team. That includes managing expectations for when the value will be realized and results will be shown. Stabilization is always further away than you think, so be there to support the business teams for the long haul.

By following these six critical steps you’re well on your way to implementing a control tower solution that comes in on-time and with strong end-user support. Your supply chain will be able to harness the power of your data, allowing you to make faster, smarter and better decisions. 

Looking for more great information from Celestica? Check out these other blogs in our series:

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Sandra Pratt
- March 05, 2015 at 11:58am
Melissa, Thanks for sharing this concise, well written article. It points out several key factors for success. I agree that users don't articulate their business requirements well. The use of prototyping to help complete and refine the business requirements is a brilliant way to not only provide accurate information to coders, which reduces development cycletime but also engages the users as participants in the change and facilitates adoption. To enhance adoption, it is helpful to have stakeholder reviews at key points in the development process built into the project plan. This builds transparency into what is often seen as the "Development Black Box" and provides a check that the vision and benefits needs continue to be met.

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