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Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.

Moses

ANINCREMENTALPROCESSFORSOFTWAREIMPLEMENTATION

RobertG.Fichman,Ph.D.
AssistantProfessor
BostonCollege,CarrollSchoolofManagement
452BFultonHall
ChestnutHill,MA021673808
Ph:6175520471
Fax:6175520433
fichman@bc.edu
ScottA.Moses,Ph.D.
i2Technologies
909EastLasColinasBoulevard,16thFloor
Irving,Texas75039
Ph:2148606000
Scott_Moses@i2.com

PublishedinSloanManagementReviewVol.40,No.2,1999pg.3952.

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses

ANINCREMENTALPROCESSFORSOFTWAREIMPLEMENTATION
Abstract
Aresultsdrivenincrementalapproachtoimplementingadvancedsoftwaretechnologies
promotesorganizationallearning,sustainsimplementationmomentum,andavoidsthe
delay,costandriskofoverengineeredsolutions.
1. INTRODUCTION
EighteenmonthshadelapsedsinceNewWorldElectronicsbeganimplementinganadvanced
softwarebasedschedulingsystemforthefactoryfloor.1Fromthebeginning,allthe
traditionalelementswerepresentforasmoothimplementation:supportofsenior
management;adequatestaffingandfunding;agoodfitbetweentheneedsofthe
organizationandthecapabilitiesofthesoftware;andasolidinformationtechnology(IT)
infrastructureonwhichtobuild.Andyet,afteravigorousstart,theprojectteamhad
somehowlostitsway.Whathadseemedtobearelativelystraightforwardtask
configuringdesiredsoftwarefunctionalityandspecifyingcomplementaryorganizational
changesturnedouttobesurprisinglyburdensome.Astheteamengagedincycleafter
cycleofanalysisandconfiguration,theyseemedtocontinuallyapproachbutneverquite
reachacompleteandsoundmodeltailoredtotheirmanufacturingenvironment.
Milestonedatescameandwent,andresourcesandattentionstarteddriftingaway.The
teamwasleftwonderingwhetheranyoneoranythingcouldrefocustheenergiesofthe
organizationontheirtask.
Whenitcomestoimplementingadvancedsoftwaretechnologies,NewWorldElectronicsisnot
alone.2Thedaysofturnkeypackagestechnologiesthatcanbephysicallyinstalled,
turnedon,andusedasisbymostorganizationsareover,ifindeedtheyevertruly
existedtobeginwith.Virtuallyalladvancedproductiontechnologiestoday
CAD/CAM,executivesupportsystems,digitalimaging,workflowmanagement,
enterpriseresourceplanning,GroupWareeitherhaveasubstantialsoftwarecomponent,
orcomeentirelyembeddedinsoftware.3Thebroadflexibilityofmodernsoftwarecanbe
boththeboonandbaneoftechnologyimplementation.Thisflexibilityenables
fundamentallynewwaysofworkingthatamplifythepotentialbenefitsofITinvestments,
butatthecostofmakingalmostanyimplementationprojectapotentiallyriskyprogram
oforganizationalinnovationandchange.Itallowsuserstopickandchoosefroman
abundanceoffunctionality,butatthecostofimposinguponthemtheburdenofchoosing
wiselythatis,designingasoftwareconfigurationthatisnotonlyinternallyconsistent,
butalsocomplementsexistingandplannedorganizationprocesses,policies,structures
andmeasures.Moreover,thisflexibilityenablesnewstrategiesformanagingtheprocess
ofimplementationitself,butagain,atthecostofchoosingwiselyfromamongalternative
strategies.
TherootoftheproblematNewWorldElectronicswasnotapoorendowmentofresourcesor
someotherprojectfactor,butrather,anineffectiveimplementationprocess.4Team
membersemployedatraditionalapproachtosoftwareimplementation,characterizedbya

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
lengthyperiodofofflineefforttoselectandconfiguresoftwarefunctionalityand
concludingwithabigbangfinishaconcentratedintervalduringwhichthecomplete
systemwouldbeturnedon,andtheorganizationwouldmakeaclean,onetimecutover
fromtheoldsystemsandpracticestothenew.Inthisinstance,thebigfinishnever
arrived.Allatonceimplementationsaresometimesunavoidableasinthecaseofa
completelyindivisibletechnologybutthisisusuallynotthecasefortechnologies
embeddedinsoftware.5
Inthisarticle,wepresentastrategyforguidingtheimplementationofadvancedsoftware
technologiesbasedontheprincipleofresultsdrivenincrementalism(RDI).The
inspirationforthisstrategyarosefromobservationsoftheproblemsexperiencedon
traditionalsoftwareimplementationsatNewWorldElectronicsandelsewhere.6The
strategydescribedhereinbearslittleresemblancetothegradualpaceanddeemphasison
specificresultscommonlyassociatedwithincrementalapproaches.7Rather,itspecifies
thataprojectbedividedintoaseriesofshort,intensivecyclesofimplementation,eachof
whichdeliversameasurablebusinessbenefit.Wehavefoundthisapproachpromotes
organizationallearning,maintainsimplementationfocusandmomentum,andnegatesthe
commontendencytooverengineertechnologysolutionsallofwhichserveto
substantiallyshortenthetimetothearrivalofbusinessbenefitsandtoreducetheriskof
implementationfailure.
Innovationresearchersandsoftwaremethodologistsalikehavelongadvocatedincremental
approachestotechnologyimplementation(atleastintherightcircumstances),andwe
believemostmanagersacceptthewisdomofincrementalismintheabstract.Yeton
actualprojectsit'srarelypracticed.Wethinkthishappensforavarietyofreasons
managersmaynotunderstandwhatincrementalismreallymeansorhowtouseit,ormay
viewitasprovidingmarginalvalue,ormaybelieveitisinfeasibleintheirspecificcase.
AsidefrompresentingtheRDImethodologyitself,thisarticleprovidesspecificguidance
onhowtocounterthesekindsofinhibitors.
Webeginbyaddressingthequestionofwhyanexplicitprocessmodelisneededtomanagethe
implementationofadvancedsoftwarepackages,andthenpresentthemainelementsofa
resultsdrivenincrementalstrategy.Wethendescribeaspecificapplicationofthe
strategyduringtheimplementationofsupplychainplanningandschedulingsoftwareat
HermanMiller,alargemanufacturerofofficefurnituresystems.Thisexampleservesas
aconcreteillustrationofthemethoditselfanditstypicalchallengesandbenefits.8
Finallywediscusstwokeyissuesraisedbythespecificsoftheimplementationat
HermanMillerandelsewhere:(1)whythemethodologyissooftenresisted,and(2)what
factorsarecriticaltoachievingsuccesswiththemethodology.
2. THEEVOLVINGNATUREOFSOFTWAREIMPLEMENTATION
Twoelementsstillcharacterizemanysoftwarepackageimplementationprojectsdespitebeing
increasinglyoutofstepwithorganizationalrealities.Thefirstelementisanarrowfocus
onthefunctionsofthesoftwareitself,wherethegoalofimplementationisviewedasa
straightforwarddeliverytotheuserpopulationofsomeparticularsetofsoftware
functionality.Thesecondelementisapenchantforallatoncedeliveryscenarios,where

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
theimplementationteamconductsitsworkoffline,oftenforayearormore,andthen
endeavorstoputtheentiresoftwareconfigurationintouseatonce.
Inyearspast,softwarepackagestendedtoincorporatemorerigidassumptionsabout
organizationalstructuresandprocesses.However,inrecentyearsallthishaschanged.
Nolongeratooltosimplyautomateandspeedupcurrentwaysofworking,advanced
softwareisnowseenasameanstoenablefundamentallynewpoliciesandwork
organizations.9Aconsequenceofthisconceptualshifthasbeentocomplicatethetaskof
softwarepackageimplementationteams.Neveraneasytask,softwareimplementation
hasnowtakenonmoreofthecharacteroftechnologicalprocessinnovation(sometimes
revolutionary,othertimesevolutionary)withtheattendantrisksandchallengesofsuch
initiatives.
Manyhavenotedthattheimplementationofprocessinnovationsinevitablyinvolveslearning
andadjustmentcosts,themagnitudeofwhichoftenexceedtherawpurchasecostthe
technologyitself.10Technologicalprocessinnovationscanrarelybeimplementedasis,
sotoachievedesiredresultsadoptersmustengageincyclesofadaptationwherethe
technologyandorganizationarefittooneanother.11Thesoftwareconfiguration
challengethenconsistsofaprocesswhereimplementersdevelopanunderstandingofthe
softwareitselfandwhatorganizationdesignoptionsthesoftwareenablesandthenwork
toactuallyconfigure,deliver,andcontinuouslyevolvethesoftwaretogetherwith
correspondingorganizationalchanges.
Itiseasytounderstandhoworganizationsmightsystematicallyunderratethemagnitudeofthis
challenge.Manyorganizationsturntopackagedsolutionsinthefirstplacebecauseofthe
notunreasonablebeliefthatwhatsdifficultaboutsoftwaredevelopmentand
implementationhasbeenpackagedupbythesoftwarevendor.Ironically,however,as
packageshavebecomemoresophisticatedandflexible,theactofconfiguringand
implementingsoftwarehasbeguntoassumesomeofthecomplexitythatusedtobe
associatedwithdevelopingacustomsystem.Advancedsoftwarepackagestypically
providehundredsorthousandsofdiscretefeaturesanddataitemsthatmayormaynotbe
used,andwhenusedcanbehaveinmultipleways.Technicalwritersandimplementation
consultantscandescribethesefeaturesinisolation,andmightbeabletosummarizeafew
standardortypicalconfigurations.Buttheycannotanticipatefromtheseemingly
infinitenumberofpossiblecombinationsthemosteffectiveconfigurationtoachieve
particularresults,andtheycannotanticipatehowanygivenconfigurationwillinteract
withaparticularorganizationalcontext.Asaresult,organizationsimplementing
advancedsoftwarepackagesneedaneffectivemodelthatguidestheprocessof
discoveringandimplementinganeffectiveinitialsoftwareconfiguration.
3. TRADITIONALVS.RESULTSDRIVENINCREMENTALSOFTWAREIMPLEMENTATION
STRATEGIES
Theresultsdrivenincremental(RDI)strategywasdevelopedafterobservingpitfallsofmore
traditionalfunctionalitydriven,allatonceimplementations.Thistraditional
implementationstrategyisdepictedgraphicallyinFigure1.Thehorizontalaxis

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
representstime(andmayalsobeviewedasaroughproxyforimplementationcost)and
theverticalaxisrepresentsthelevelofbusinessbenefitsenabledbytheimplementation.

Implementation
Enabled
Benefits

Milestone 1

Milestone 2

Milestone 3

Time (cost)

Figure1:TraditionalSoftwareImplementation
Thetraditionalapproachnotonlydelaysthearrivalofbusinessbenefitsuntiltheendofthe
project,buthasotherimportantpitfallsaswell.Itallows,andinfactencourages,
implementerstofocusontechnologyitselfinsteadofthecorrespondingorganizational
changesrequiredtoactuallyderivevaluefromimplementedfunctions.Inaddition,the
absenceofclearlinkagestobusinessvalueinvitesoverengineering,thatis;
implementingfunctionsthatmayneverbeusedoraddingexcessivedetailsthatarenotin
factnecessarytoachievedesiredbusinessresults.Overengineeringobviouslywastes
resources,butperhapsmoreimportantly,itproducesanexplosionofcomplexityasteam
membersmustfigureouthoweachfeatureworks,andthenanticipatehowitinteracts
withothersoftwarefeaturesandwiththepoliciesandproceduresoftheadopting
organization.AsoneparticipantintheHermanMillerimplementationputit:
Whenthedifferencebetweenwhereyouaregoingandwhereyouarenowisgreat,itis
painfulfortheproductionfloor...Ifitgetsoutonthefloorandpeoplechoketheywillsay
wecantgetordersouttocustomers,turnitoff.Usuallytheyarechokingonsomething
thatpeoplewhodesignedandimplementedthesystemhadntanticipated.[OperationsVP,
HermanMiller]
TheRDIstrategystandsinstarkcontrasttothetraditionalapproach.Withthisstrategy,targeted
businessresultsdrivetheentireimplementationprocessfromthearticulationofgoalsat
thebeginningoftheprocess,tothetacticaldecisionsmadeduringimplementation,tothe
evaluationofprojectsuccessduringandafterimplementation.Aplanisdevisedthat
dividessystemdeliveryintoaseriesofshort(i.e.,twotothreemonth)increments,each
ofwhichdeliversacombinationofsoftwarefunctionalityandorganizationalchange.
Eachincrementisdefinedsothatintendedbusinessresultswillbeachievable,evenifno
furtherincrementsarecompleted.(Thisrequiresthattheunderlyingtechnologypossess

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
atleastmoderatedivisibility,howeverthiswillbetrueofmostsoftwaretechnologies.12)
Foreachdeliveryincrement,specificmeasuresaredefinedtogaugeimprovementsin
businessperformance,andoperationaldecisionsmadethroughouttheimplementation
processareguidedbytheirimpactonthesetargetedimprovements.Thisapproachto
softwareimplementationiscontrastedwithtraditionalapproachesinFigure2.
Results-Driven Incremental
Implementation

Enabled
Benefits

Traditional
Implementation

Time (cost)

Figure2:ResultsDrivenIncrementalvs.TraditionalImplementation
ThemostobviousadvantageoftheRDIapproach onesharedbyincrementalapproachesmore
generally issimplythatthestreamofbusinessbenefitsarrivesmuchsooner.
Graphically,thisbenefitisrepresentedbyareaAinFigure2.However,implementers
followingtheRDIapproachhavefoundthatitnotonlycompressesthetimetogetting
somebenefit,butitdramaticallyshortensthetimetocompletetheentireinitial
implementationandincreasestheoveralllevelofprojectbenefits.Theseadditional
benefits(representedbyareaBinFigure2)arisefromcombiningincrementalismwitha
strongfocusonbusinessresults acombinationthathasstartlingeffectson
organizationallearningandimplementationmomentum.
Wenowpresentsomespecificsofamethodologythatachievesaharmoniouspairingofthese
twoelements,andthendescribehowHermanMiller,amanufacturerofofficefurniture
systems,usedthismethodologytoguideamajorimplementationofmanufacturing
software.
4. DRIVINGINCREMENTALIMPLEMENTATIONWITHRESULTS:SPECIFICSOFTHERDI
METHODOLOGY
Beforeanimplementationstrategycanbeeffectivelyemployedonactualprojects,itmustbe
elaboratedintoastepbystepprocedureormethodology,anditmustbetailoredtothe
specificsofthetechnologytobeimplemented.Inthissection,wedescribeanRDI

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
methodologydevelopedtoguidetheimplementationofsupplychainplanningand
schedulingsoftware.
TheRDImethodologyincorporatesfivekeyprinciples:
1) Usetargetedbusinessresultstodrivedecisionmakingthroughouttheimplementation
process;
2) Dividetheimplementationintoaseriesofnonoverlappingincrements,eachofwhich
enablesmeasurablebusinessimprovementsevenifnofurtherincrementsareimplemented;
3) Ensureeachincrementimplementseverythingrequiredtoproducedesiredresults,i.e.,
softwarefunctionalityandcomplementarychangestoorganizationalpolicies,processes,
structuresandmeasures;
4) Sizetheincrementssothateachcanbeimplementedinashorttime(ideallythreemonths
orless);
5) Usetheresultsofeachincrementasabasistofleshoutandadjusttheplanforsubsequent
increments.
IntheRDImethodology,theincrementalsegmentsofanimplementationarereferredtoas
BusinessReleases.Thistermisderivedfromtheideathat,justassoftwarevendorswill
typicallydeliverpackagestothemarketasaseriesofsoftwarereleases,an
implementationofsoftwareataparticularcustomersitemaybeviewedasaseriesof
releasesofsoftwareenabledbusinessresults.EachBusinessReleaseconsistsofan
integratedsetofsoftwarefunctionalityandorganizationalchangethatenablesaspecific,
measurablebusinessimprovementinsomekeyperformanceindicator(KPI).Typical
KPIsforsitesimplementingsupplychainplanningsoftwareincludeduedate
performance,planningcycletimes,orderleadtimes,throughput,andinventory(raw,
workinprogressandfinished).
BusinessReleasesareshortanddonotoverlap.Atypicaltimeframeappropriateforsupply
chainplanningsoftwareistwoorthreemonths,althoughthismayvarydependingonthe
natureofthesoftwarebeingimplemented.Someorganizationsmaybetemptedtopack
mostoftheimplementationintooneRelease,ortocompensatefordelaysonacurrent
Releasebyconcurrentlyinitiatingthenextone.However,longoroverlappingsegments
defeatthepurposeofthemethodology.Longsegmentsinvitethesameproblemsthat
accompanyallatonceimplementations;overlappingsegmentsworkagainstthegoalof
providingisolated,cumulativeepisodesoflearning.
ThemethodologybeginswithaBusinessAnalysisstepthatdefinesthecontentsofthefirstfew
BusinessReleases.IntheBusinessAnalysisstep,theprojectteamseekstoanswerthe
followingquestions:WhicharetheimportantKPIstotarget?Whatarethekey
constraintslimitingeachKPI?Whatarethesoftwarefunctionalitiesandcorresponding
organizationalchangesthatwouldimproveeachKPI?Howmuchimprovementis
possible?TheresultisadescriptionofeachBusinessReleasecoveringthefollowing
elements.
Thetargetedbusinessresult(e.g.,improvedduedateperformance);

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
Alistofsoftwarefunctionalitiestobeimplemented(e.g.,automatedcapacity
optimization);
Alistofcomplementarychangestoorganizationalpolicies,procedures,measures,and
structure(e.g.,revisionoftherelativeprioritiesonduedateperformanceversusmachine
utilization);
Ametricformeasurementofbusinessresults(e.g.,ontimeorderpercent).
AtemplateisusedtocapturethehighlevelcontentseachBusinessRelease(seeFigure3).The
variousimplementationsatHermanMillereachrequiredfourtosixBusinessReleases;
thishasbeentypicalofRDIimplementationsmoregenerally.TheBusinessAnalysisstep
identifiesthefirstfewBusinessReleasesatahighlevel,anddefinesthefirstReleasein
detail.ThedetailsofsubsequentReleasesaredefinedinjustintimefashionfollowing
completionofthepriorrelease.

SiteName:
KeyPerformanceIndicator:
AmountofImprovement:
SummaryofNewCapability:

___________________________________
___________________________________
___________________________________
___________________________________

SoftwareFunctionalitytobeImplemented:

ChangestoData:

ChangestoProcesses:

ChangestoPerformanceMeasures:
ChangestoOrganizationalStructure:

___________________________________
___________________________________
___________________________________
___________________________________
___________________________________

ImplementationStartDate:
EstimatedCompletionDate:

___________________________________
___________________________________

ExplicitMeasureofBusinessResults:
FrequencyofMeasurement:

___________________________________
___________________________________

Figure3:BusinessReleaseTemplate
AnimportantconsiderationindevisingthecontentsofeachBusinessReleaseistheexpected
sequenceofimplementation.Theidealsequencepromotesmultipleobjectives:itstarts
outinanareawhereconditionsaremostfavorabletosuccess;providesforapatternof
experimentationandlearningthatismostcumulative;andaddressesopportunitieswith
thehighestpotentialpayoffearlierratherthanlater.Naturally,theseobjectiveswilloften
beinconflict,thusrequiringtradeoffstobemadebasedonmanagementprioritiesatthe
site.
FollowingtheBusinessAnalysisstep,theimplementationteambeginstheprocessofcompleting
thespecifiedBusinessReleases.ABusinessReleaseisconsideredcompleteonlywhen
softwarefunctionalitiesareinactualproductionuse,organizationalchangeshavebeen

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
made,andmeasurementofresultshasbegun.Allthreeelementsareessential.Unless
thesoftwareisusedinproduction,ithasnottrulybeenimplemented;ifcomplementary
organizationalchangeshavenotbeenmade,thesoftwarewill(atbest)beautomating
outmodedpractices;ifmeasurementofresultshasnotbegun,therewillbenoobjective
basisfortheevaluationofresults.
FollowingthecompletionofeachBusinessReleasetheprojectteamperformsanumberof
activities:theresultsoftheBusinessAnalysissteparereviewedforvalidity,thecontent
ofthenextBusinessReleaseisdefinedindetail,andanewBusinessReleaseisaddedto
thequeuesuchthatarollingsetofBusinessReleasesismaintained.Inthisway,the
methodologyachievesthegoalofmaintaininganoverallplanwhileprovidingforthe
incorporationofnewinformationastheimplementationunfolds.
5. ANILLUSTRATION:IMPLEMENTATIONOFSCHEDULINGSOFTWAREATHERMANMILLER
TofurtherillustratetheRDIapproachanditspotentialbenefits,wedescribetheapplicationof
thismethodologyasitwasemployedatHermanMiller.HermanMillerInc.isthesecond
largestofficefurnituremanufacturerintheUnitedStates,processingmorethan3,000
customerordersperweek.Thecompanyproducesafulllineofproducts(chairs,desks,
walls,partitions,etc.)withafocusonprovidingcompleteofficesystems.Approximately
80%ofthecompanysbusinessisprojectbased,andfulfillingordersrequirescomplex
coordinationamongmultiplerawmaterialsandassemblyplants.Itisnotunusualfora
singleordertoinvolvefivedifferentplants.Theproductlinesarehighlyoptioned,with
largeswingsinproductmix.
Inthemid1990s,whenHermanMillerfirstbeganlookingforplanningandscheduling
software,thecompanyhadbeenfacinganincreasinglycompetitivebusiness
environment.Expectedordercycletimeshaddroppedfrom12to4weeks,and
discountingwasontherise.Policiesandoperatingproceduresthathadservedthem
adequatelyinthepastwerenowleadingtodeterioratingduedateperformanceand
excessivecostsofgoodssold.Batchprocessingofordersledtolossofcustomeridentity
inproductionmanagerscouldnotseetheimpactofchangesordisruptionsonone
order,oronallorderstogether.Asaresult,itwasnotunusualforlateavailabilityofa
smallcomponenttocausehundredsofthousandsofdollarsworthofproductiontositin
inventory.Consolidationofordersindistributioncenterspriortoshipmentaddedtocycle
timedelaysandinventorycosts.
Intheend,theHermanMillersearchteamjudgedtheplanningandschedulingsoftwarepackage
providedbyi2Technologiestobewellsuitedtoaddressingtheaboveproblems.Over
thepasttwoyears,HermanMillerhasimplementedthesoftwareinsixsites.
Whenpitchingtheideaofusingaresultsdrivenincrementalapproach,implementation
consultantsfoundareceptiveaudiencefromkeymanagerswhohadpersonallywitnessed
thepitfallsoffunctionalitydriven,allatonceimplementationsatHermanMillerand
elsewhere.Nevertheless,severalHermanMilleremployeeswereresistanttousingthe
methodology:

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
Themethodologyisdifferentthanwhatmostpeopleareusedto.Itcanbeavery
frustratingprocess,theinitialplanningsessions...peoplewillnotalwayswanttothink
throughtheiroperationalgoalsandopportunities.Theywanttojumprightinandstart
configuringcapabilitiesinthesoftware....Stafffeeluncomfortablethinkingintermsof
businessgoalsratherthansoftwarecapabilities...theyfeelsaferthinkingintermsof
activitiesratherthanintermsofachievingbusinessresults.[Implementationproject
manager,HermanMiller.]
Intheend,managersfavoringthemethodologyweabletopersuaderesistorstoreservejudgment
untilcompletionofthefirstincrementalportionoftheimplementation.Positiveresults
onthisfirstincrementbroughttheresistantteammembersaround:Itslikeitcreated
draftyouknow,howthishappensinracingitcreateddraftandpulledpeoplein
[OperationsVP,HermanMiller].
6.IMPLEMENTATIONRESULTS
TheimplementationatHermanMillerdeliverednewsoftwarecapabilities,includingretentionof
customeridentitythroughoutthemanufacturingprocess,useofconstraintbased
schedulingattheplantlevel,andglobalsynchronizationofalltheplantsinvolvedwithan
order.Table1summarizesthecontentsandsequenceofimplementationatHerman
MillersChairplantastheyactuallyoccurred.
Table1:OverviewofHermanMillersBusinessReleases
BR KPI

Description

Sched Software Functionality to be


ule
Implemented

Organizational Changes to
be Implemented

Identify current
material
shortages

12/4 - Detection of errors in data


12/22 model

Incorporate new planning


tool in planning process

Planning Cycle
Time

Rapidly create planned material Make corrections to


assignments
missing or inaccurate data
Identify demand that is affected
by current material shortages

Due Date
Performance

Create material
feasible
schedules

1/3 2/23

Suggest material procurements Decide which materials


considering supplier constraints should be controlled
Synchronize material
procurements for an order tree

Only purchase a material if


all materials for an order
can be purchased

Identify demand that is affected


by future material shortages
Implement consistent
buying practices for each
Simulate effects of possible
product group
expediting actions to resolve
material shortages
Create a reaction plan for
use when a quality
problem occurs with
incoming material

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
3

Throughput and
Manufacturing
Lead Time

Create capacity
and material
feasible
schedules

2/26 - Model true plant capacity with Implement consistent


4/19 routing times for each operation scheduling practices for
for each material
each production line
Release three sequences of
work per day (instead of one
per week)
Identify and resolve capacity
overloads

Schedule based on
objectives of the whole
plant rather than of
individual departments
Only release orders that
can be fully completed

Create production sequence for


the whole plant
Use the planning tool to
determine capability to
Synchronize capacity plans
accept short lead time
with material plans
orders
4

Direct Shipment
of Orders from
Plant to
Customer

Synchronize
manufacturing
with customer
orders

4/22 - Modify transaction system to


6/14 supply customer order data to
plant

Change emphasis from


machine utilization to due
date performance

Synchronize completion times


of all line item orders for a
customer order

Define process to capture


customer need date

Maintain pegging of line item


orders to direct ship customer
orders after quantities have
been consolidated

Create a red flag plan for


use when a line item order
is behind schedule

Use a smart ticket for


production tracking

However,oneofthemoststrikingelementsatHermanMillerwasthewillingnesstoembrace
complementaryprocessandpolicychanges:
WeveseenimprovementsinalmosteverykeyoperationalmetricatHermanMiller.ButI
wanttoclarifythattheresultshavebeendrivenbymajorprocessandpolicychangesas
wellasbythe[software]implementation.Donteverthinkjustplugginginthesoftwareby
itselfwilldoitforyou.[Implementationprojectmanager,HermanMiller.]
Thesechangesincludedradicalmodificationstotheirorderchangeandcancellationpolicies,
discontinuationofcertainproductlinesthatweremostresponsibleforexcessraw
materialsinventory,changestohowlotsweresizedandhoworderswereconsolidated
priortoshipping,andperhapsmostimportantly,changestotheirwholephilosophyof
measurement.Priortotheimplementation,HermanMillerhadameasurementadverse
culture,andthosefewperformancemeasuresthatdidexistconformedtosuchtraditional
objectivesasmaximizingmachineutilization.Overthecourseoftheimplementation,the
softwareenabledanewandpervasivesetofmeasurestobedefinedandimplemented.

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
Itsbeenreallyinterestingwatchingthechangetakeplaceoverthelastcoupleof
years...before,peoplewantedtocelebrategoodeffort,andwerenotasfocusedon[the
idea]thatcelebrationbelongstogoodresults.[Implementationprojectmanager,Herman
Miller.]
HavingcompletedseveralimplementationsusingtheRDImethodology,HermanMillerhas
becomeastrongproponentoftheapproach.Withtheexceptionofonesitewhere
resistancetothemethodologywasparticularlyhigh,eachsitecompletedthefirst
incrementwithinsixmonthsandtheentireimplementationwithinayear.(Inthesite
wherethemethodologywasresisted,implementationtook18months.)Thefull
implementationacrossallsixsiteswascompletedontimeandwithinbudget.Intermsof
keyperformanceindicators,HermanMillerreportedachievinga75%reductionin
planningcycletime,a22%decreaseinleadtimes,a79%increaseininventoryturns,and
adecreaseinmissedduedatesfrom30%to1%.
Table2:ImplementationSiteComparisons
Sites Employing the RDI
methodology (N=10)

Sites Not Employing the


Methodology (N=18)

5 months

8 months

10 months

> 20 months

90%

40%

Median time to first production


use
Median time to project
completion
Median % of implementation
goals achieved within 18 months

EmployeesatHermanMillerattributedtheirpositivei2implementationexperiencetoalarge
extendontheorganizationallearningandimplementationmomentumthattheRDI
methodologyfostered.Thisemphasisonlearningandmomentumisconsistentwith
priorresearchontechnologyimplementation,organizationallearning,andthe
managementoftaskfocusedteams.
OrganizationalLearningImpactsofRDI
Aswithcomplextechnologicalinnovationsmoregenerally,theburdenoforganizationallearning
representsafundamentalchallengetothesuccessfulimplementationofadvanced
softwarepackages.Withtraditionalapproaches,crucialmechanismsforeffective
learningthosebasedoneverydayuseofthetechnologyareeitherabsent,orare
deferreduntilayearormoreintotheimplementationeffort.Organizationallearning
theoristshavearguedthateffectivelearningtendstobeincremental,intensive,
immediate,andactionoriented.Itisincrementalbecausenewknowledgeismosteasily
absorbedwhenitcanbelayeredontopofexistingknowledge.13Itisintensive,because
learningusuallydoesnottakeuntilconceptshavebeenmastered,anddripsanddrabs
ofinterruptedeffortrarelyleadtosuchmastery.14Itisimmediate,becauselearningis
elusivewheneffectsareseparatedfromcausesbyspaceortime.15Itisactionoriented,
becauseonlythroughactiondopeoplebuildupthevaststorehousesoftacitknowledge

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
thatformthefoundationofanyskilledperformancewhetherplayingtheviolin,or
operatingatransformedorganizationinthewakeofamajorsoftwareimplementation.16
Allofthesemechanismsarepresentinaresultsdrivenincrementalimplementation.
BusinessReleasescreateaverysolid,concreteframeworkinwhichpeoplehavetoachieve
certainresults.Thoseresultsthendrivewhattheygooutandtrytolearn.[OperationsVP,
HermanMiller.]
Youcanshowpeopleexamples,butIthinkthatuntilyouaffectedtheirworkdirectly...you
gotthatlooklikewellthatsreallyinteresting...Butwhenthesepeopleactuallystartedto
seethattheywereshippingordersandthatproductwasflowingthroughtheplant
better...Wenowhaddisciples.Theywereconvinced.[OperationsVP,HermanMiller.]
Alargeportionoftheeffortofimplementationconsistsnotofphysicallyconfiguringsoftware
functionality,butoflearningwhatbusinessprocessoptionsareenabledbythesoftware
tool.Typically,usersdonottrulyunderstandadvancedsoftwareuntiltheyhave
attemptedtouseittosolverealproblemswithlivedata:
Itiseasytotellsomeoneyoudontneedthatinventorybuffer.Manyconsultantshave
comethroughtellingthemtheydontneedthebuffers...butuntiltheycouldseeitfor
themselves,theyarenotwillingtomakethechange.[Implementationprojectmanager,
HermanMiller.]
TheindividualincrementsoftheRDImethodologyproviderecurringepisodesoforganizational
learning.Eachincrementalsolaysafoundationofknowledgeforsubsequentincrements,
andoftenresultsintheidentificationofalternativeapproachesthatmayalterthe
directionofremainingincrementsforthebetter.Traditionalimplementations,by
contrast,attempttoaggregateallhandsonlearningintoasingle,massivedeliverycycle.
Asaresult,alloftheinevitablebugsandmismatchesbetweenthetechnologyandthe
organizationthatwereaccumulatedduringtheofflineportionoftheprocessget
encounteredatonce.17Traditionalimplementationscanthereforebelikenedtoamedical
studywheremanydifferenttreatmentsareappliedtosubjectsatthesametime.18The
RDIapproach,bycontrast,canbelikenedtoaseriesofsingletreatments,wherethe
resultofeachtreatmentisevaluatedseparately:
Itallowskeyconceptstobetestedinisolation.Whereyouretalkingaboutspecific
actionsthatyoubelievewillachieveaspecificresults...theywontgetlostinallofthe
otherthingsthatarehappeningatthesametime[inatraditionalimplementation].
[Implementationprojectmanager,HermanMiller.]
Insummary,theRDImethodology(andresultsdrivenincrementalstrategiesmoregenerally)
providethefollowinglearningrelatedbenefits:
Theuseofmultipleincrementsprovidesanexpectedsequenceoflearning,anddivides
learningintodiscrete,manageablesegments;
Theexplicitperformancetargetshelptheimplementationteamdeterminewhatlearningis
relevant(i.e.,whichfeaturesofthetechnologyandorganizationmustbeinvestigated)and
therebyreducesthetendencytooverengineerthesolution;

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
Directobservationofresultsoccursregularly,andinproximitytotheactionsthatproduced
theresults;
Theimplementationteammustintensivelylearnwhattheyneedtoknowabouteach
incrementduetotheshorttimeframeforeachincrement;
Thecompletionofeachincrementlaysafoundationofknowledgeforsubsequent
increments.
ImplementationFocusandMomentumImpactsofRDI
Asanyprojectmanager(orparticipant)knows,theintensityofeffortonaprojectincreasesin
thevicinityofadeadline.Informally,thisiscalledthedeadlineeffect.Ontheother
sideofthecoin,ithasoftenbeenobservedthatwhenslackexistsinaschedule,workwill
usuallyexpandtofilltheavailabletimeratherthantheprojectortaskbeingcompleted
early.ThisisknownasParkinsonslaw.ArecentsimulationstudybyIBMhasshown
thatwhenreasonableassumptionsaremadeaboutthemagnitudesofthedeadlineeffect
andParkinsonslaw,teamsofsoftwaredeveloperswillexhibitsimilarlevelsofschedule
conformanceonagiventaskwhengiventhesamecollectionofmilestonesdateseven
whentheteamsdiffersignificantlyintermsofstaffproductivity.19Similarideasrun
throughConnieGersicksclassicstudyoftheaffectoftimeawarenessongroup
behavior.20Specifically,shefoundthattaskfocusedteamsexhibitedburstsofenergyand
progressattheapproachoftwotemporalmilestonesatthecompletiondateofaproject,
andmoreinterestingly,atapointpreciselyhalfwaythroughaproject.Inbetween,
projectteamsexhibitedperiodsofinertiacharacterizedbysporadic,unfocusedeffort.
Hermajorconclusionwasthatateamsprogresswastriggeredmorebyanawarenessof
timeanddeadlinesthatbycompletionofanabsoluteamountofworkinaspecific
developmentalstage.Thesestudiessuggestthattimingandnatureoftemporal
milestonesmaybeasimportantintermsofmaintainingimplementationprogressasthe
absolutemagnitudeofstaffresourcesdevotedtotheeffort.
TheRDImethodologycallsforascheduleofconcretemilestonesattwoorthreemonth
intervals,namely,thedeadlinesfordeliveryofeachincrement.Caremustbetakento
ensurethattheamountofworktobedoneoneachincrementisfeasibletoaccomplish
withinthegiventimeframe.Justasallowingtoomuchslackinviteswastingof
resources,schedulesthataretooaggressiveinvitecuttingcornersandothercounter
productivemeasures.
Oneoftheunexpectedresultsofusingthisapproachwerethepositiveeffectsofthesedeadlines
hadonimplementationfocusandmomentum.Theperiodsofinertiathatcharacterize
typicalprojectssimplywerenotpresentonsoftwareimplementationsthatusedBusiness
Releases:
CertainlysomethingthatIhaveseeninthepastatHermanMillerispeoplewillmentally
checkouttheycontinuetoshowupeverydayyouknow,showuptothemeeting
roombuttheyarementallycheckedout,andemotionallycheckedout,andnotworking
todrivethatchangethroughanymore.ThatswhatIveseeninthepast,andthatswhat
wedidntseethistime,becausepeopleweregettingasensethatthisprojectwasmoving
[Implementationprojectmanager,HermanMiller.]

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
Becausepeoplefeeltheresultssomuchmorequicklyandsomuchmoreoftentheydont
fallintothatkindoflullpartwaythroughtheimplementationwhereitfeelslikenothingis
happening...itreallydoeshelptokeepthefocus.[Implementationprojectmanager,
HermanMiller.]
Anotherbenefitoftheshortdurationofeachincrementisitcausesvoluntaryscopecontrolbyall
teammembers.Usuallytheprimarydomainoftheprojectmanager,theRDI
methodologyencouragedtheentireteamatHermanMillertotakeanactiveroleinscope
control.Furthermore,ithelpedtoempowertheprojectmanagertoresistattemptsto
expandthescopefromoutsidetheimplementationteam:
Thishasbeenreallykeyformeasaprojectmanager...Ihaveknownalotofpeoplethatthe
moretheyfindoutabout[thesoftware]themoreexcitedtheygetaboutthedifferent
capabilitiesthatareoutthere...anditsallverytempting...butIhavetheBusinessRelease
tolookatandtosaydoesthishaveanythingtodowithdecreasingrawmaterial
inventory?Thatswhatwearefocusingonrightnow.Whatyoureaskingfor,yesitsa
goodthing,yesitsanimportantthing,andImsureitsgoingtobetiedtooneofthe
businessresultsthatwegoafterinalaterstep...[Implementationprojectmanager,
HermanMiller.]
Thetraditionalapproachtosoftwareimplementationofcoursemayalsoincludeintermediate
milestonedatesforthecompletionofprojecttasks,andthesemaybedefinedtohave
shortdurations.However,thesesortsofmilestonestendtobeabstract,taskoriented
deadlinesdesignedtosuitthecontrolobjectivesofmanagement.Whilebetterthanthe
alternativeofhavingnocheckpoints,suchmilestonesdonotservequitethesame
psychologicalfunctionascompletionofanimplementationincrement.Traditional
milestonesdonotprovideaconcretetargettoshootfor;theydonotprovideimmediate
feedbackonresults;andtheydonotencouragetheteamtoseekthemostefficacious
meanstoachievinggivenends.Partoftheproblemisthatthemilestonedatesona
traditionalprojectareopentotoomuchinterpretation:
Ona[traditional]implementation,thegoalisdefinedbysomesortoffunctionality,and
whenyouaretalkingaboutfunctionalityitissoeasyforpeopletotwistthe
scope...[manageratHermanMiller].
Anotherpartoftheproblemisthattheteamcanthelpbutrealizethatthemilestonedatethat
reallycountsistheoneattheendoftheimplementation,whenthesoftwareisscheduled
fordeliverytousers.Ifthisdateismet,noonewilllikelycareifintermediatemilestone
datesweremissed.Witharesultsdrivenincrementalimplementation,bycontrast,allof
themilestonescallforthedeliveryofatangibleresult,namely,puttingsomeportionof
thesoftwaresystemintoeverydayuseandtrackingprogresstowardstherealizationof
targetedbusinessbenefits.Asaresult,thefirstdeliverymilestonecountsasmuchasthe
last.And,unliketheabstractmilestonesinatraditionalproject,theintermediate
completionsofaresultsdrivenincrementalimplementationrepresentatangible
accomplishment,andprovidethebasisforobservationofthenewtechnologiesinaction.
Thisoftenservestoreinforceenergyandbuildmomentumfortheworkahead.

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
Tosummarize,resultsdrivenincrementalstrategiesprovidethefollowingbenefitsrelatedto
maintainingimplementationmomentum:
Theuseofmultiple,concretedeadlineswithshorttimeframesavoidstheperiodsofinertia
thatafflicttraditionalprojects;
Theuseofbusinessresultsasthedriverpromotesvoluntaryscopecontrolbymembersof
theimplementationteam,andempowerstheteamtoresistscopecreeporiginatingoutside
theteam;
Theearly,recurrentachievementofvisibleresultspromoteconfidenceandfeelingsof
accomplishmentthatenergizetheimplementationteam.
OtherFavorableImplementationFactors
WhileHermanMillerimplementerssawtheRDImethodologyasaprimarycontributorto
overallprojectsuccess,severalotherfavorableelementswerealsopresent.Thecompany
wasfacingagenuinecrisisintermsofcompetitivenessinthemarketplace,thusleading
toageneralwillingnesstoembracechange.Theteamhadthefullsupportoftop
managementthroughouttheproject.Theyemployedasmallteamofimplementers
dedicatedfulltimetotheproject,ratherthanhavingalargerstaffofparttime
implementers.Andperhapsmostimportantly,theteamfeltitwasimportanttoown
theirownoutcome,bytakingtheinitiativeindrivingtheimplementationthrough,rather
thanrelyingonexternalconsultantstosetthedirectionandtone.
Evenso,evidencefromothersitesspanningawidevarietyoforganizationsandsettingssuggests
theRDImethodologydoesnotrequirethepresenceofallofthesefavorableelementsto
beeffective.Ananalysisof28i2implementationsinitiatedbetweenMay1995and
December1996foundthatsitesemployingRDIreporteda40%shortermediantimeto
initialbenefits,a50%shortermediantimetoprojectcompletion,andtwiceasmany
businessgoalsachievedwithin18monthsofprojectinitiation(seeTable2.)21Nosite
thatusedRDIexperiencedimplementationfailureaneventthatoccurredoccasionally
underthetraditionalapproach.
7.WHYISTHEAPPROACHSOOFTENRESISTED?
Asjustdescribed,theresultsdrivenincrementalapproachtosoftwareimplementationhasmany
potentialbenefits.Yet,evenso,consultantsemployingtheRDIapproachhavefoundthat
althoughtheapproachappealstomostexecutives,implementersoftenresistit.Evenat
HermanMillerthefirstcustomertousethemethodologyandnowoneofthestrongest
advocatesoftheapproachtherewasconsiderableresistanceamongsomemembersof
theprojectteam.
Wehaveobservedfivereasonsforthisresistance.Afirstreasonstemsfromtheresults
orientationoftheapproach.Oftentimesteammembersarenotcomfortablewiththeidea
ofhavingtodefineandthenbeingheldtospecific,measurablegoals.Instead,they
wouldratherbejudgedonthemorestraightforwardprocessofdeliveringfunctionality.
Beingmeasuredonfunctionalitylimitsteamaccountabilitytoactivitiesundertheteams
directcontrol.

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
Thesecondcauseofresistanceisthatincrementalimplementationhashistoricallybeen
associatedwithagradual,deliberatepaceofchange.Therefore,tomany,thenotionof
rapidincrementalismascalledforintheRDIapproachevokesaskepticalresponse.The
answertothisparadoxliesinthepositiveeffectofmorefrequentfeedbackonmomentum
andlearning.
Athirdcommonsourceofresistanceisamistakenbeliefthatfullimplementationcanbe
achievedquicklyandeasily.Iftheentireimplementationcanbecompletedinsix
months,thisargumentgoes,whybotherwiththetaskofdefiningmultiple
implementationsegments?
Thefourthreasonisthatanincrementalapproachoftenrequiresthedevelopmentofwork
aroundsdestinedtobediscardedinsubsequentincrements.Theseworkaroundstakethe
formofthrowawayinterfacestoexistinginformationsystemsaswellasinterim
organizationalpoliciesandprocedures.Whilethecostoftheseworkaroundswill
usuallypaleincomparisontothecostofmanagingtheadditionalcomplexityoftheall
atonceapproach,workaroundsaremoredirectlyobservable,andthereforemayseem
morewasteful.
Afifthreasonforresistanceisfearthattheuseofmultipleincrementsmayincreasethechance
ofamidprojectterminationeitherbecausetheintermediateresultshavebeen
disappointing,orbecauseintermediatecompletionsprovideadiscreteopportunityfor
projectresourcestobedeployedelsewhere.Thisisnotanunreasonablefear.
Incrementalimplementationsdoallowanorganizationtodiscoveranimplementationis
introublemuchsoonerinfact,thismaybeviewedasanadditionalbenefitofthe
approachfromtheperspectiveofseniormanagers.(Incontrast,bythetimeithas
becomeclearthatanallatonceimplementationisintrouble,ayearormoremayhave
elapsed.)Nevertheless,itsnaturalfortheprojectteamtohaveadifferentviewofthe
desirabilityofearlyproblemdetection,andtopreferascenariowheretheyhavemore
timetogetaprojectbackontrackbeforeprovokingthescrutinyofseniormanagement.
Overcomingresistance.Muchoftheaccumulatedwisdomforovercomingresistancetochange
alsoappliestoRDI.Thisincludesenlistingtopmanagementsupport,educating
stakeholdersaboutthemethodologyanditsbenefits,providingconcreteexamplesof
successfulapplicationsofthemethodologyandsettingupatrialapplicationofthe
methodologyinafavorablesetting.AtHermanMiller,forexample,buyinofthe
approachwasonlyaccomplishedafteraseniormanageraskedkeystakeholderstotrythe
firstincrementonfaithandthenreevaluatetheirpositions.
Also,thespecificreasonsforwhythemethodisoftenresistedsuggestadditionaltacticsonhow
topromoteacceptanceofthemethod.Acostbenefitanalysiscanbeusedtoputthecosts
ofdevelopingtemporaryworkaroundsinperspective,forexample,bycomparingthem
tothebenefitofquickerimplementationorreducedriskoffailure.Resistancearising
fromfearofprematureprojectcancellationcanbecounteredbyworkingwith
stakeholdersupfronttodefineappropriategovernancemechanismsfortheproject.This
shouldincludecontractingupfrontformutuallyagreeabledecisionrulesintheeventof

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
problemsandsetbacks.Inaddition,asteeringcommitteecanbeformedtomake
unforeseendecisionsabouttheprojectalongtheway.
8.CRITICALSUCCESSFACTORSFORUSINGTHERDIAPPROACH
Asidefromtheobviousrequirementthatmanagersmustovercomeresistanceandensurefaithful
adoptionofthemethodology,threeadditionalfactorsarecriticaltoensuringsuccesswith
theRDIapproach.
Firstandforemost,resultsdrivenincrementalimplementationrequiresdivisibilityofthetechno
logyitself.Divisibilityiscrucialbecauseitallowsaspecialsortofincrementalism,
namely,incrementalismwhereeachsegmentenablesameasurablebusinessresultin
itself,evenifnofurthersegmentsareimplemented.Divisibilitydependsonthenature
anddesignofthecomponentscomprisingthesoftwarepackage,andalsoonthelevelof
ingenuitythatmanagersbringtobearonhowthecomponentsareselectedandsequenced
forimplementation.Therefore,beforecommittingtoanRDIapproach,managersmust
takecaretoevaluatethedivisibilityofasoftwaretechnologyinthegeneralcase(e.g.,
whatisthegranularityofcomponents,andtowhatextentarethecomponentsofthe
productdesignedtoallowfor"standalone"operation?)andthenassesstheattractiveness
ofalternativeapproachestoimplementationsequencingallowedbythetechnology.
Weseedivisibilityastakingtwoalternativeforms,oneinwhichsuccessiveincrementsinvolve
thesamesoftwaremodulesbutatdifferentlevelsofdetail,andasecondinwhich
successiveincrementsinvolvedifferentmodules.Supplychainplanningandscheduling
products(andmodelingordecisionsupportstyleinformationsystemsmoregenerally)
naturallypermitdivisibilityofthefirstsort,whichmightbelikenedtoapplyinglayersof
painttoacanvas.Thesecondsortofdivisibility,whichmightbelikenedtoslicingup
piecesofapie,maybeamorenaturalapproachforlargertransactionprocessingstyle
systems.
Forotherkindsofsoftwareahybridoftheseapproachesmightbefeasible.Inthecaseof
GroupWaresoftwaresuchasLotusNotes,forexample,anorganizationmightplanto
firstuseitonlyforworkgroupcalendaringandemail,thencreatedatabaseswithfairly
staticandstandardinformation,thencreatemorespecializeddatabaseswithdynamic
information,thenallowuserstocreatetheirowndatabases,thenimplementautomated
workflowprocesses.Infact,LotusConsultinghasdevelopedamethodologycalledthe
AcceleratedValueMethod(AVM),thatsharesthebasicprinciplesofresultsdriven
incrementalism.22
Wefeelthatmosttechnologicalinnovationsembeddedinsoftwareorthathavealarge
softwarecomponentcanbemadeatleastmoderatelydivisiblebytheprojectteam,even
incaseswheredivisibilityhasnotbeendesignedintotheproductfromthestart.
Temporaryworkaroundsmayberequired,butthecostfortheseshouldbeconsideredin
relationtothetotalimplementationcost.However,notalltechnologiespossessthe
inherentpotentialfordivisibility,becauseitisnotalwayspossibletodecouplemodules
forserialimplementation.Thisissometimesthecaseforrealtimeorembeddedsoftware

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
systems(suchasairtrafficcontrol)wherethesmallestunitofcoherentimplementation
exceedsthescopeofanindividualincrement.
Thesecondcriticalsuccessfactoristhatthekeyimplementationchallengesposedbythe
technologyinquestionshouldbetheonesRDIhasbeendesignedtoaddress,namely,
organizationallearningandimplementationmomentum.Whilethesebarriersarequite
pervasiveintheprocessesoftechnologicalinnovation,theyarenotalwaystheprimary
barrierstobeovercome.Forsomekindsoftechnologies,barriersrelatedtoachievinga
criticalmassofusers,23coordinationofalargenumberofinterrelatedimplementation
elements,24dealingwithindeterminacyaboutwhattheorganizationcanorshould
accomplishwiththetechnology,25orproperlyaligningincentivesinthewakeofthe
implementationmaybethepredominateconcerns.26Insuchcircumstances,itispossible
thataresultsdrivenincrementalapproachwillbeoflesserbenefit,althoughfurther
researchisrequiredtodeterminetheextenttowhichthisisso.
Athirdcriticalsuccessfactoristhattheremustbeareasonablygoodfitbetweenthesoftware
technologyandtheneedsandcharacteristicsoftheadoptingorganization.Dorothy
LeonardBartonhasnotedthatthemisalignmentsthatinevitablyexistbetweena
technologyandatargetorganizationcanbelargeorsmall,andrequirecorrespondingly
largeorsmallcyclesofadaptationtoresolve.27WebelievethattheRDIstrategycanbe
viewedasawaytorationalizeandmanageaseriesofsmallcyclesofadaptation.
However,iftherearelargemisalignmentsforexample,thatrequireachangetothecore
featuresofthetechnologyoramajororganizationalrestructuringtheapproachwillbe
lessappropriate.Inthiscase,alargecycleofadaptationwillbeneededthatwillinvolve
atimehorizonanddegreeofunpredictabilitythatobviateuseofshort,welldefined
increments.Nevertheless,oncethemisalignmenthasbeenaddressed,itmaythenbe
possibletousetheapproachontheremainderoftheimplementation.
Onequestionwehavebeenaskediswhetherthismethodologycanbeappliedtoenterprise
resourceplanning(ERP)offeringsfromvendorslikeSAP,PeopleSoftorBaaN.We
believethatexceptfortheinstanceofasmallcompanyimplementingafairlywell
understoodmodule,theanswerwillusuallybeno.Theproblemisthatthe
componentizationofthesepackagesoccursmostlyatthelevelofbroadfunctional
moduleshumanresources,financials,inventorymanagement,productionplanning
andthesemodules,intendedastheyaretosupportentirebusinessfunctions,areusually
toolargetobeimplementedinasingleincrementspanningtwotothreemonths.Because
eachmodulehasnotbeendesignedascombinationofseparablecomponentssuitablefor
serialimplementation,thecostandcomplexityofestablishingrequiredintramodule
interfacesandworkaroundswouldoftentimesexceedthebenefittobegainedfrom
incrementalism.Orinotherwords,themoduleshavenotbeendesignedtopromote
divisibility.Interestingly,thetrendinthesepackagesistowardsfinergranularityinthe
componentizationofmodules,sointheyearstocomethisbarriertousinganRDI
approachmaywellfallaway.

Copyright 1998,RobertG.FichmanandScottA.Moses
9.CONCLUSIONS
Thetrendtowardseverincreasingflexibilityandsophisticationinpackagedsoftwarehas
magnifiedthechallengesfacingsoftwareimplementationteams.Afavorablesetof
projectfactors(topmanagementsupport,appropriatestaffingandtraining,etc.),while
important,areinsufficienttoensureprojectsuccess.Organizationsalsoneedan
effectiveimplementationprocessformanagingthejourneyofinnovationandchangethat
increasinglyaccompaniesthedeploymentofadvancedsoftware.Wehavedescribedone
suchapproach,aresultsdriven,incrementalstrategyforsoftwarepackage
implementation.Bydividingimplementationintoaseriesofselfcontainedsegments,
eachdesignedtoachieveaspecificbusinessresult,thisapproachcountersthescope
creepandoverengineeringthatsooftenaccompanytraditionalimplementations.In
addition,theapproachactsasafocusingdevicethatpromotesorganizationallearningand
maintainsimplementationmomentumatahighlevel.Theuseofmultipleincrements
withshorthorizonsprovidesanexpectedsequenceoflearning,divideslearninginto
manageablesegments,andpermitsobservationofoutcomesinproximityactionsthat
producedthem.Theearly,recurrentachievementofvisibleresultscontinually
reenergizesmembersoftheimplementationteam.
Thetypicalviewoftechnologyholdsthatitisdefinedbyitstechnicalfeaturesthetechnology
asdesigned.Wetakeanalternativeview,whereatechnologyisboundedbyitstechnical
featurestogetherwiththeconfigurationsinwhichitistypicallydeliveredandutilized
thetechnologyinuse.Whilethetechnologyasdesigneddefinestherangeofpossible
usesofthetechnology,itistechnologyinusethatdeterminestheimmediatevaluetothe
individualcustomers,andperhapsmoreimportantly,determinestheextenttowhichthe
technologysucceedsinaccumulatingacriticalmassofcommittedusers.28Designingan
effectivesoftwaredeliveryprocessisnoteasy.Itrequiresanongoingefforttodevelop
systematicimplementationprocesses,tomeasurecustomeroutcomes,todocument
processvariantsfordifferentcustomersituations,andtobuildmoreimplementabilityinto
aproductfromthestart(e.g.,byincreasingdivisibility).Anditrequiresaneducationand
marketingefforttoencourageimplementerstoadoptthemethodology.
Determiningthemosteffectivedeliveryprocessesforaparticulartechnologyrequiresongoing
R&Dbysomeone.Itcanbedonebythirdpartyconsultants,althoughthereisno
guaranteetheywillchoosetotakeupthetaskofdefiningamethodologytailoredtoa
givenproduct,orthattheywillbringthedegreeofindividualattentiontotheprocessthat
theproductmightrequire.Itcanbedonebyendusers,butmostendusersare
constrainedbyasamplesizeofonlyone.Oritcanbedonebytheprimaryvendors
themselves.Wesuggestthatmosttechnologyvendorswouldbewellservedtoview
effectiveimplementationprocessesasacrucialelementofsuccess,andtomanage
investigationinthisareaastheywouldanyotherkeyareaofR&D.
ENDNOTES

. AlthoughNewWorldElectronicsisapseudonym,thisdescriptionisbasedonanactual
example.

. From50to75%oforganizationsexperiencefailureimplementingadvancedproduction
technologies.See:
A.Majchzak,TheHumanSideofFactoryAutomation(SanFrancisco:JosseyBass,1988).
Upto70%ofbusinessreengineeringimplementationsfailtoachieveintendedgoals.See:
B.J.Bashein,M.L.MarkusandP.Riley,PreconditionsforBPRSuccess,InformationSystems
Management,vol.11,no.Spring,1994,pp.713.

. J.B.Quinn,J.J.BaruchandK.A.Zien,SoftwareBasedInnovation,SloanManagement
Review,vol.37,no.4,1996,pp.1124.

. Untilrecently,thebulkofinnovationresearchfocusedonimplementationfactorsratherthan
process.Factormodelsofimplementationidentifyindividualcharacteristicsofthetechnology
(e.g.,complexity,trialability),theorganization(e.g.,centralization,formalization),orthe
technologyorganizationcombination(e.g.,compatibility,topmanagementsupport)thateither
facilitateorinhibitimplementationsuccess.See:
A.D.MeyerandJ.B.Goes,OrganizationalAssimilationofInnovations:AMultilevelContextual
Analysis,AcademyofManagementJournal,vol.31,no.4,1988,pp.897923.
C.A.Beatty,ImplementingAdvancedManufacturingTechnologies:RulesoftheRoad,Sloan
ManagementReview,vol.35,no.Summer,1992,pp.4960.
Processmodels,bycontrast,describeholisticimplementationstrategiesandprocesses.See:
B.W.Chew,D.LeonardBartonandR.E.Bohn,BeatingMurphy'sLaw,SloanManagement
Review,vol.32,no.3,1991,pp.516.
E.Brynjolfsson,A.A.RenshawandM.VanAlstyne,TheMatrixofChange,SloanManagement
Review,vol.38,no.2,1997,pp.2240.
W.J.OrlikowskiandJ.D.Hofman,AnImprovisationalModelforChangeManagement:TheCase
ofGroupwareTechnologies,SloanManagementReview,vol.38,no.2,1997,pp.1121.

. D.LeonardBarton,ImplementationCharacteristicsofOrganizationalInnovations,
CommunicationResearch,vol.15,no.5,1988,pp.603631.

. TheinitialconceptsfortheRDIstrategyweredevelopedin1994byDr.Mosesandother
implementationconsultantsworkingfori2Technologies,avendorofsupplychainmanagement
softwareheadquarteredinIrving,Texas.Overthecourseofapplyingthestrategyonseverallarge
implementationsitwasformalizedintoamethodologyandadoptedastherecommendedapproach
forimplementingthefirm'ssoftwareproducts.

. M.J.Gallivan,J.D.HofmanandW.J.Orlikowski,ImplementingRadicalChange:Gradual
VersusRapidPace.ProceedingsoftheFifteenInternationalConferenceonInformationSystems,
(Vancouver,BritishColumbia,Canada,1994).
D.B.StoddardandS.L.Jarvenpaa,BusinessProcessRedesign:TacticsforManagingRadical
Change,JournalofManagementInformationSystems,vol.12,no.1,1995,pp.81107.

. Inselectingacaseexampleforuseinthisarticle,wesetoutthefollowingidealcriteria:(1)
faithfulapplicationoftheRDImethodology,(2)awillingnesstoprovideresearcheraccesstokey
implementationpersonnelanddocuments,and(3)experiencewithmultipleapplicationsofthe

methodology.Ofthe10sitesemployingRDI,HermanMillerbestmetthesecriteria,andhadthe
additionaladvantageofbeingasiteDr.Mosesalreadyknewwell,havingservedasalead
implementationconsultant.
9

. S.Zuboff,IntheAgeoftheSmartMachine(NewYork:BasicBooks,1988).
M.Hammer,ReengineeringWork:Don'tAutomate,Obliterate,HarvardBusinessReview,vol.
66,no.4,JulyAugust1990,1990,pp.104112.
N.Venkatraman,ITEnabledBusinessTransformation:FromAutomationtoBusinessScope
Redefinition,SloanManagementReview,Winter,1994,pp.7387.

10

. Althoughmuchofthepriorresearchonthecostsandchallengesofprocessinnovationhave
focusedontheimplementationofproductionequipment,thesameprinciplesapplytothe
implementationofprocessinnovationsentirelyembodiedinsoftware.See:
R.G.FichmanandC.F.Kemerer,TheAssimilationofSoftwareProcessInnovations:An
OrganizationalLearningPerspective,"ManagementScience,October1997.

11

. D.LeonardBarton,ImplementationasMutualAdaptationofTechnologyandOrganization,
ResearchPolicy,vol.17,1988,pp.251267.

12

. LeonardBartondefinesdivisibilityaspermittingthedivisionofatechnologyintostagesor
segments,eachofwhichdeliverssomebenefitsevenifnofurthersegmentsareadopted.Basedon
asetoffourteencasestudiesoftechnologicalinnovationinvolvingdiversetechnologiesand
organizationalsettings,LeonardBartonconcludesthatmosttechnologieshavethepotentialfor
divisibilityalthoughitiscommonfororganizationstooverlookthisproperty.See:
D.LeonardBarton,ImplementationCharacteristicsofOrganizationalInnovations,
CommunicationResearch,vol.15,no.5,1988,pp.603631.

13

. W.M.CohenandD.A.Levinthal,AbsorptiveCapacity:ANewPerspectiveonLearningand
Innovation,AdministrativeScienceQuarterly,vol.35,March,1990,pp.128152.

14

. W.M.CohenandD.A.Levinthal,AbsorptiveCapacity:ANewPerspectiveonLearningand
Innovation,AdministrativeScienceQuarterly,vol.35,no.March,1990,pp.128152.

15

. P.Senge,TheFifthDiscipline(NewYork:Doubleday,1993).

16

. R.NelsonandS.Winter,AnEvolutionaryTheoryofEconomicChange(Cambridge,MA:
HarvardUniversityPress,1982).

17

. Evenso,mechanismsdoexisttofacilitatelearningevenundertheconstraintofanallatonce
approach.Chewetal.identifyfourlevelsoflearningvicariouslearning,simulation,prototyping,
andonlinelearningthefirstthreeofwhichcanbeemployedthroughoutallatonce
implementations.Theynotethatthemosteffectivemechanismfororganizationallearningisonline
learningalsoreferredtoaslearningbydoingwherelearningoccursasthetechnologyisused
intheongoingoperationsofabusiness.Theyarguethatinmostcasesonlinelearningiscost
prohibitive;however,itappearsthisisbasedonanassumptionthatthetechnologyisindivisible.
Ourpositionisthatwhenatechnologyisdivisible,andthisdivisibilityisusedtoenablearesults
drivenincrementalapproach,onlinelearningbecomesakeymodeoflearning.See:
B.W.Chew,D.LeonardBartonandR.E.Bohn,BeatingMurphy'sLaw,SloanManagement
Review,vol.32,no.3,1991,pp.516.

18

. SchafferandThomsonusethissameanalogyindescribingtheproblemswithdiffuse,non
resultsdrivenprogramsofchange.See:

R.H.SchafferandH.A.Thomson,SuccessfulChangeProgramsBeginwithResults,Harvard
BusinessReview,JanuaryFebruary,1992,pp.8089.

19

. T.E.PotokandM.A.Vouk,TheEffectsoftheBusinessModelonObjectOrientedSoftware
DevelopmentProductivity,IBMSystemsJournal,vol.36,no.1,1997.

20

. C.J.Gersick,TimeandTransitioninWorkTeams:TowardaNewModelofGroup
Development,AcademyofManagementJournal,vol.31,no.1,1988,pp.941.

21

. Thedatasupportingthisanalysiswascollectedbyi2fromasurveyofcustomersandproject
managers.

22

. PrinciplessharedbyRDIandAVMinclude:breakingtheimplementationintosmallsegments,
havingthecontentsofeachsegmentbedefinedbybusinessvalue,anddefiningeachincrementin
suchawaythatitprovidesvalueevenifnofurthersegmentsareimplemented.

23

. E.M.Rogers,"The'CriticalMass'intheDiffusionofInteractiveTechnologiesin
Organizations,"inTheInformationSystemsResearchChallenge:SurveyResearchMethods,
Volume3,ed.K.L.Kraemer,J.I.CashandJ.F.Nunamaker(Boston:HarvardBusinessSchool
ResearchColloquium,1991).

24

. E.Brynjolfsson,A.A.RenshawandM.VanAlstyne,TheMatrixofChange,Sloan
ManagementReview,vol.38,no.2,1997,pp.2240.

25

. W.J.OrlikowskiandJ.D.Hofman,AnImprovisationalModelforChangeManagement:The
CaseofGroupwareTechnologies,SloanManagementReview,vol.38,no.2,1997,pp.1121.

26

. W.Orlikowski,LearningFromNotes,TheInformationSociety,vol.9,no.,1995,pp.237
250.

27

. D.LeonardBarton,ImplementationCharacteristicsofOrganizationalInnovations,
CommunicationResearch,vol.15,no.5,1988,pp.603631.

28

. R.G.FichmanandC.F.Kemerer,TheIllusoryDiffusionofInnovation:AnExaminationof
AssimilationGaps,InformationSystemsResearch,toappear,1998.