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March 18, 2024

Strategy works: The benefits of strategic implementation planning

Learn how strategic consulting around your technology deployment will produce the measurable results you want and need.

Every leader hopes to see the hard work of their peers and team members rewarded with positive results and measurable success after a large, organization-wide initiative. For projects as impactful as a new software deployment, there must be a concerted effort to plan and think strategically. Oftentimes, however, the critical planning stage of the deployment does not allow for meaningful discussions of this nature. Executive leadership may approach a software deployment with a high-level vision for optimal outcomes but not communicate these expectations clearly enough for them to be examined properly before project work begins.

Leaders are looking for strategies that can be executed. While there is a time and place for pie-in-the-sky thinking, what leaders are being held accountable for is the execution of their strategies. You may be asking yourself, “How can I ensure that our strategic pre-work will actually produce the results we want?” Let’s understand what makes strategic implementation planning successful.

Strategic planning creates clarity and alignment across your teams

The purpose of strategic implementation planning is to lay the foundation for cross-functional decision-making and to identify and clarify project vision, guiding principles, goals and objectives, value proposition and success metrics. It also ensures the alignment of executives and functional teams. Take an example from one of our clients who learned how alignment and clarity are crucial before moving forward. During the strategy phase, our team uncovered that some common terminology had different definitions across HR, Finance and IT. This discovery led to the whole project team coming together to agree on common definitions prior to the start of implementation.

During your strategy sessions, you can expect to review potential project challenges and roadblocks like this, as well as challenges in organizational readiness and change management, project governance, and individual project stage requirements. Another key part of the strategy stage is the review of foundational and cross-functional components such as data, reporting and integrations.

While strategic implementation planning most often occurs before the planning stage of a deployment, it can also occur after go-live. Post-production strategic services can include long-term strategy mapping, governance, strategic road-mapping, and service delivery and operating model alignment.

Let’s define these key strategic initiatives:

Governance model defines the structure, roles, responsibilities, decision-making authority and process, and escalation paths for managing your HR, finance and student systems.

Strategic roadmap examines your functional initiatives (within HR and Finance) to develop a one-, three- or five-year roadmap. This takes into consideration business initiatives, technology initiatives, resource availability and constraints, and change adoption capability and develops a high-level plan that lays out the order of initiatives, estimate of resource needs and estimate of magnitude of change.

Service model delivery framework defines how HR, finance or student services are delivered to consumers (applicants and candidates; employees and managers; vendors and clients; students, faculty and staff). This is achieved by providing a plan for organizational structures, roles and responsibilities, process alignment and the systems needed to support the consumer experience.

Strategic implementation planning is the foundation of your deployment

Imagine you recently purchased a nice plot of land for a new house. You’ve spent time and energy searching for the right lot and you’ve finally paid for it. You approach a construction company, explaining that you’d like to build a house on your new land, and have it done by next year.

In this scenario, you need to make sure you give your builders some clear instructions about what to build. What kind of house is it going to be? What style? Is it a single-family home? How energy efficient should it be? What’s the square footage? Every single one of these questions needs to be thought through before you can break ground on your dream house. What does that mean? You need a blueprint. Most likely, you need a blueprint created by experts who know the fundamentals of architecture and civil engineering.

Just like you need a blueprint before building a house, you shouldn’t approach a software deployment without first seriously thinking about and articulating your strategy. You can’t wing it. There should be a team of people in your organization who are able to think strategically about why you are deploying this new software, what you expect as a result, and how your team will execute to achieve that result. You can engage in this strategic planning internally and independently, or partner with experts who have worked with similar clients. Organizations that offer strategic planning services can offer insights on how to get employees to buy in and look forward to the benefits of a software deployment. The benefits of strategy services include reduced risk, clear decision-making authorities and a more cohesive outcome. For example, before the deployment even began, our strategy team helped a client reduce risk by identifying challenges associated with their worker’s council, which allowed the client to engage and adjust scope accordingly.

External resources can be invaluable during strategic planning because they have knowledge of your industry and trends in transformation, and they can share best practices with your team. This can help inform your deployment approach and better prepare everyone for the road ahead. Strategy work often brings to light complex requirements that necessitate further solution development. If you engage in strategic implementation planning with your deployment partner, it gives their team more insight into what to expect in the coming months, and it allows for more time and visibility to develop creative solutions and improve processes.

Strategy work means greater project success and return on investment

In a recent survey, 100% of our strategy clients said that they would recommend strategy pre-work to other organizations. Read on to learn more about how three clients leveraged our strategy team to achieve greater deployment success:

Leader alignment on vision and goals

A large enterprise financial services organization engaged in a strategic implementation planning stage prior to their Workday implementation. As they had numerous disjointed systems across the HR enterprise (core HR, payroll, benefits, time tracking and performance management), it was critical that HR functional leaders aligned on their vision and goals for the implementation. After aligning on the project, individual functional leaders were able to prioritize their design decisions based on the best outcome for initial go-live, as well as continued optimization based on other organizational initiatives.

Process review and optimization

A not-for-profit organization of senior living communities deploying Workday Supply Chain Management for Healthcare engaged in strategic implementation planning focused on leadership alignment and process review and optimization. Their leaders were able to identify common vision and goals for the project and understand their role in the deployment governance process. The process optimization work identified how Workday processes could help the client meet their strategic procurement goals and where additional policy and vendor relationship management strategy was needed to fully achieve their desired end-state.

The foundation for decision-making

A large, private university in the Midwest engaged in a strategic implementation planning stage prior to their deployment of the Workday platform. During leadership alignment activities, leaders from across the university’s functional areas, medical center, and faculty groups were able to agree on a common vision and goals aligned to the broader university mission. This provided the foundation for decision-making throughout the strategy and implementation stages of the project.

Cognizant Workday Practice
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