The recent transformation to Cisco Commerce Workspace (CCW) was a significant change for our channel partner community, as the capabilities of 21 disparate commerce tools were consolidated into a single platform. As of October 2013, our partners now have one tool for quoting, configuring and ordering Cisco products, software and services. For many partners, the consolidation of business processes into CCW has resulted in faster bookings and significant productivity gains. Due to the cycle time decrease enabled by CCW from the point of quote creation to order processing, partners are achieving productivity improvements of up to 25 percent.
While CCW has already provided measurable efficiency gains to both Cisco and our partner community, it also offers a robust IT infrastructure to support new business models and future ease-of-doing-business (EoDB) improvements. Over the next year, plans are in place to further enhance CCW to process software subscription renewals, facilitate WebEx ordering and offer increased collaboration capabilities between Cisco sales teams and our partner sellers.
“With these foundational capabilities in place, we are well established to accommodate the increasingly complex supply chain requirements that are a fact now in the market.”
-Christine Wolff, VP Cisco Alliance, Dimension Data
While we’ve made a significant step toward simplifying the Cisco commerce experience by transitioning more than 15,000 users and a run-rate of over $40 billion in annual bookings from a collection of disconnected systems, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that the CCW adoption journey was challenging for both Cisco and our partner community. Given that multiple industry studies have found that an alarming percentage of large-scale IT projects fail, the established best practices from the CCW adoption journey may be relevant for our partners embarking on similar enterprise-wide system transformations. Below are five best practices for driving system transformation as learned from our experience with CCW:
1. Align your leadership team towards a common goal and ensure top-down sponsorship. Ensuring your leadership team has consistent vision for the project’s end-state and success criteria will also keep your cross-functional working teams aligned. Because Cisco Senior Vice Presidents across the Sales, IT and Operations functions unilaterally included 100% adoption of CCW to their organizational performance goals, there was unwavering support to keep the team pushing forward together when change resistance and escalations were encountered.
2. Create a transparent and conflict-friendly culture. Change is hard, especially when leading system transformations that put revenue at risk and require a departure from engrained processes. A culture of transparency helps combat the natural resistance to change by enabling fast and unemotional decision-making throughout the working team. Establishing a culture where the team is encouraged to raise issues will prevent problems from remaining hidden until it is too late. We recommend opening leadership decision-making forums so the entire working team has the ability to listen to how decisions are being made and instilling a project management rigor which questions the validity of ‘green’ status reports more than ‘red’. Both of these actions will encourage the honest discussions and healthy conflict needed to drive change effectively.
3. Establish a burning platform. Publicly state your target completion date and the risk associated with non-action. We have heard from multiple partners that the legacy tool retirement announcement made at Partner Summit 2012 is what drove a sense of urgency to move to CCW. By stating an explicit end-date and ensuring you can articulate the business value of making the associated change, it will be easier for you to rally your team and stakeholders around a common future vision
4. Resist a one-size fits all adoption approach. Some stakeholders will have more complex requirements than others to fully adapt to the change you are driving. Involve your key stakeholders during the design process and segment your impacted audience by the amount of support required to successfully drive adoption of the new system or process. In the case of CCW, multiple levels of partner support were required to accommodate the diverse needs of our partner user base.
5. Run your adoption program like a sales team. Ensure adoption targets are defined using a data-driven forecasting and commitment process. Maintain a standard cadence to track and communicate progress against your forecast. This approach will keep the focus on results, and will also highlight unexpected adoption ‘plateaus’, giving you time to react and re-plan if needed.
I hope that you have found these recommendations relevant, and most importantly, are experiencing the productivity benefits of Cisco Commerce Workspace. I would like to thank our entire partner community for the support throughout the CCW adoption journey, which enabled one of the top revenue generating commerce platforms in the world. The experience gained from this transformation will enable us to further improve the support we provide for future business process changes that impact our valued partner community. I welcome your feedback about your experience with CCW, or your own best practices for leading system transformations in the comments section below.