Сonsulting for an international marketing agency
Itransition performed an all-around consulting, creating a vision for an effective platform-based solution that would bring together disparate business systems.
Our customer is an international group of event management and marketing agencies delivering high-quality strategy, consultancy, and marketing services to major businesses, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations worldwide.
They had numerous solutions in their IT ecosystem, including a project management platform, lead generation system, and accounting solution. With time, the number of IT systems increased, as different teams gradually adopted different asynchronized IT solutions for their business needs. This led to a lack of business agility and process transparency.
Our customer wanted to analyze the issues in-depth and find a way to solve them to improve data governance, achieve data-driven decision-making, and ensure business transparency. They decided to turn to IT consultants who would help elicit the existing pain points, analyze the system’s current state, and provide recommendations and expert guidance. In the end, they chose to collaborate with Itransition, impressed by our IT consulting expertise and extensive portfolio in the media and entertainment domain.
We suggested splitting consulting into several phases and providing clear deliverables at the end of each stage. This way, our customer received actionable insights that they could apply to rethink their business from the very start.
Pain points elicitation
Understand business and technical needs of our customer
As-is state report with detailed descriptions of IT and business issues
Feature scope creation
Create a comprehensive feature list that covers all customer pain points
To-be features overview
Align the feature scope with out-of-the-box functionalities of various platforms
Future solution and tech options report that overviews different platforms
To-be solution design
Establish key development principles
Solution design report
We elicited all existing business and IT issues first and then formed a to-be feature scope. Drawing on the feature scope, our team recommended several suitable platform options. In the final stage, when the customer chose the platform, the platform consultant refined the future solution, taking into account the platform’s nuances.
Pain points elicitation
To gain a thorough understanding of as-is processes for the business as a whole and for each department, our business analyst interviewed both key stakeholders (C-level, management, team leads, etc.) and employees from different teams. This helped us understand which workflows or features were mission-critical and should be implemented first, which would prove useful in the later stages of consulting.
Interviews also helped us assess the current level of digital readiness and IT knowledge in the company, which directly impacted what additional process changes or training our customer might need in the future. Itransition also requested various artifacts and demos for solutions currently in use to understand how each department utilizes them. Our team tried the as-is user journeys, following the workflows that our customer’s employees performed every day, to elicit specific pain points for each existing solution.
We discovered the following problems in our customer’s business operations:
- Lack of integration — most processes required several disjoined solutions, which complicated and slowed them down (e.g., a task was stored in a project management solution, but the approval for it was requested via email)
- Dispersed data — data was stored and managed locally, making it hard to ensure it remained up-to-date, accurate, and easily accessible to all employees
- Lack of collaboration — numerous disjoined IT solutions impeded effective teamwork and communication between departments
- Lack of automation — many routine and repetitive tasks (e.g., eliciting approval) were conducted manually, taking up valuable employee time
- Non-standardized business workflows — it was hard to align the unique workflows of various departments, which decreased business agility
- Insufficient planning — our customer struggled with business forecasting and as-is analysis due to data distributed across various solutions
- Lack of digitalization — some departments did not utilize any cloud-based solutions, increasing the amount of manual work
Feature scope creation
Having discussed the findings of the as-is state report with our customer’s stakeholders, our business analyst continued with another stage of consulting, the feature scope creation phase. First of all, we created a list of features that our customer utilized across all their solutions. With a thorough understanding of our customer’s business and its pain points, we created a vision for the to-be solution, going from high-level concepts to distinct features.
To make their workflows more structured, we recommended the following implementation principles that would serve as a foundation for the to-be feature scope:
- Adding multiple user roles with various access levels to organize data access and achieve documentation security
- Designing business entities to structure the existing processes with many teams using different terminology for the same concepts
- Developing a unique ID for input business data to ensure that each entity (document, contract, invoice, task, etc.) can be easily tracked throughout the system
- Migrating data from the solutions currently in use to ensure business continuity and simplify user adoption
- Implementing the following logical components in the solution to bring together business functions dispersed across the existing IT solutions:
- Security — designing a system of permissions and accesses, developing access and visibility management features to solve the issue of unrestricted access to documentation in the company
- Entity and data management — creating user roles and business entities and aligning them with redefined workflows
- Document management — creating a centralized and trackable single point of access for all documentation
- Operations (Contracting, budgeting and procurement, events planning, etc) — covering the entire business process lifecycle from lead generation to event planning and quoting
- Internal workflows — creating clear-cut standardized workflows for processes that were conducted manually without outlined pathways (e.g., approvals, validation, support)
- Notification and tracking — developing a nuanced system of notification and alerting and aligning it with workflows and user roles
Then, Itransition’s business analyst broke down the to-be logical components into distinct features and compared them with the ones provided by existing solutions. The approach helped us understand what would be more cost-effective: customizing the existing solutions or building a new one. Considering the scope of the required improvements, we found out it would be easier to choose from the market-leading highly customizable platforms.
A solution consultant compared the to-be feature scope with the out-of-the-box functionalities provided by various platforms. They assigned to each to-be feature a platform coverage score measured in percentages. If the platform did not provide the feature, the solution consultant and the business analyst considered how vital it was for the to-be solution and how difficult it would be to add it through customizations or integrations.
As a result of the preliminary scope estimation, we concluded that building a solution on Odoo or Salesforce would be the most viable option as they cover most of the requested features out of the box.
Even though Odoo and Salesforce are very different, they both had the same out-of-scope features in our customer’s case:
- Website support via the inbuilt platform’s chatbot
- A mobile version that fully mirrors the desktop application
- Digital asset record (DAM) support
However, since these features are nice-to-have rather than mission-critical, they did not impact further platform analysis. Thus, to compare Odoo and Salesforce, Itransition took a closer look at the features that showed the most varying ratings.
A robust event management module out-of-the-box
More features to manage numerous aspects of event organization as a multi-faceted project
Both are good, but Odoo’s employee management would work better for our customer’s case
Powerful recruitment features aligned with the Employees module
Recruitment features are present but less exhaustive than Odoo’s
Basic reports that would cover most of our customer’s needs
Stronger reporting capabilities with features for custom reports and formula creation
Even though Salesforce was better in terms of reporting and event management, our customer was impressed with Odoo’s employee and recruitment management and how these modules could be integrated. Overall, Odoo and Salesforce showed similar feature coverage and would need relatively the same amount of customization. Odoo also has a dedicated hosting platform Odoo.sh which simplifies infrastructure design, decreasing associated costs.
We documented all our findings and supplemented them with infrastructure diagrams and estimates on further maintenance and support. We suggested building the solution with Odoo, it was more cost-effective, in the long term.
To-be design solution
As a final phase of consulting, Itransition’s platform consultant explored the technical realization of the to-be Odoo solution.
Our platform consultant advised the customer on how to incorporate the features the selected platform does not have by default. Some features could be realized through integrations, while others required platform customizations. The customer had several must-have integrations (e.g., an integration with SAGE for expense tracking).
Our platform consultant also explored the most effective way to enable integrations. For most of them, Itransition found suitable third-party plugins, significantly decreasing development costs. For example, we advised on how plugins can be used to integrate the to-be solution with several mass storage systems already in use by our customer, such as Microsoft SharePoint, and Google Drive.
The remaining integrations and platform customizations were explored further. The platform’s consultant designed and described ways to realize 100% of the to-be scope, taking maximum advantage of out-of-the-box features. By default, the Odoo platform supports document management, but we described how it should be customized to process all the required formats as attachments, in edit mode, etc.
Itransition also prioritized solution components and data migration phases, taking into account how crucial they would be for the to-be solution and business processes. As many entities would be interdependent with Odoo, it was crucial for achieving frictionless development. As a result, having split the development into several phases, we ensured the customer would get a fully functioning system with business-critical features as soon as possible.
Itransition performed an all-around IT consulting spanning from discovering the pain points and how they are connected to the in-use IT solutions to creating a to-be solution’s vision. As a result, our customer received comprehensive documentation that guides them through the implementation of the to-be system. The designed system integrates the asynchronized solutions and their data, automates and streamlines workflows, facilitates collaboration, and provides business transparency through powerful reporting features.
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