This blog is part of the digital transformation journey of a very Large IT Enterprise and their journey to mod…
At some point, every large services organization comes face to face with the need for fundamental change and an accelerated approach. The decision to act may be prompted by a variety of circumstances: a sharp slide in profitability, enticing new prospects in distant markets, investing in modern tools for their global workforce, or the gathering threat of new entrants in the business landscape. Whatever the motive, the magnitude of the challenge can paralyze services firms embarking on a transformation.
Our last blog post discusses – how one of Replicon’s enterprise customers, a large IT enterprise, embarked on a digital transformation journey to navigate their organization to a new technology landscape.
In this post, we will examine how the enterprise accelerated the transformation of its tech stack for time tracking and become future-ready for the hybrid digital era. Along with this, what critical decisions were made (like build or buy) to support a successful digital acceleration.
Old-fashioned Time Tracking
It is very typical of any organization in the professional services industry to have a fragmented ecosystem for time tracking. Time tracking is the backbone of the services firm, and operating in data silos will impact project profitability, operational and business efficiencies.
The enterprise had a fragmented ecosystem of 20+ time tracking systems – both commercial and homegrown. They had several ERP-based timesheet systems for at least 60+ countries, HCM based timesheets in 10+ countries, regional time tracking systems in several countries, and homegrown systems for a few countries.
All the employee time data was coming from a different source system. This means several different pathways to get employee data to gain a single source of truth for project time. Next, all contract labor time data came from another source system. There were separate regional compliance systems for labor and payroll compliance. The financial data was consolidated into legacy ERP platforms. The data finally got integrated into a payroll time system that was further for payroll processing to a regional back-office system. Different teams were entering data into different systems which didn’t speak to each other. There was no way to get a centralized view of the information at a global enterprise level in real-time.
Employees of the large IT enterprise were unhappy with the outdated UI and unintuitive experience. They were entering time manually for time against projects, and there was the fear of being prone to errors that cause delays in payroll and billing.
Time Tracking is critical to many business processes, and the lack of transparency, real-time connectivity, and global visibility impacted other business areas. Resources were mismanaged, resulting in over or under allocation to projects, affecting the project budgets and employee productivity levels. There were delays in approvals which impacted billing, hampered decision making, and caused revenue leakages.
To Build or to Buy?
With a focus on shifting to the cloud and building a connected employee experience across the globe, the large IT enterprise realized that disparate and manual time tracking approaches used in the past are no longer sustainable for the hybrid digital future. To embark on the modernization of the ecosystem, they considered building a time tracking platform in-house. But building a platform from scratch would take over two years with heavy investment in resources and additional support required in maintenance and support. This level of effort in building a platform came with high risk and less advantage.
Based on the estimated time taken to build a platform from scratch and trends from their competitors, they know that whatever the answer, it has to merge with the pending cloud strategy. The choices and technologies have to play well into that strategy, or it won’t work. So, the cloud has to be part of the answer.
The advantage of an off-the-shelf platform is that it allows organizations to leverage existing expertise in multiple use cases without needing to delve into the intricacies of building features for each use case. Buying a software also offers a significantly faster time to market within 8-16 weeks depending on the complexity of the use case as compared to the months and years it can take to
If they decide to build, as a part of the implementation, the IT team would have to build connections to the entire ecosystem across multiple ERPs, payroll, and HCM systems in 80+ countries. The platform launch delay will impact employee productivity, and revenue leakages will continue for the business. As the business grows, the organization would have to consider how they will scale the platform, and any further delay in stabilizing the platform would impact their ERP consolidation strategy that would add to their high operational costs.
Building an in-house platform comes with its nuances that an organization may have not even considered. There were decisions to be considered that could impact the business. From a resource standpoint, if building what would happen to the team that develops the time tracking system, when it is completed? There wouldn’t be enough work to absorb them into the other application teams. Another question to consider was if the in-house development team could build such a sophisticated time tracking system – will they be able to serve their global needs and cater to the labor compliance and statutory compliance needs of every country?. Also, will the platform offer the configurability and flexibility to set up multiple use cases and maintain innovation to meet the ever-changing customer demands and help the organization realize a competitive advantage?
There were additional risks for the business with the accumulation of technical debt of 20+ time tracking systems, whether building the platform offered economies of scale and would justify the cost of investment and should the employees be distracted outside their circle of competence or focus on their revenue-generating projects.
Finally, Replicon was selected as the partner of choice. Replicon’s time capture solution was a part of an overarching company goal to consolidate all-time tracking systems into a single unified and global platform.
Key objectives that were driving this decision were real-time visibility into projects, time, compliance, and resource management with accelerated operational excellence and profitability across the organization. Using mobile time capture the employees can submit timesheets on the go and leading to a more engaged and productive workforce.
The new platform also paves the way for AI/ML processes that will allow the large IT enterprise better business predictability and better insights into their current business practices. The decision to invest in an out-of-the-box platform has offered significant savings in terms of time and cost.
The ecosystem transformation puts the company in a great position to continue onto the next steps of its digital transformation journey. The large IT enterprise was immediately able to sunset one ERP system and 20+ time tracking systems which equated to savings in millions of dollars. In case you missed it, you can learn more about the large IT enterprise modernization efforts here.
The final blog series of the digital transformation case study will discuss the accelerated approach taken to transform the enterprise ecosystem, show how it got implemented, and their path to a unified enterprise time tracking with value-added benefits.