Evert Smit ERNI

Four Digitalists Part 03 – Change is the only certainty

In our new four-part interview series about Digital Business Consulting, we want to give you some insights into the daily work of our experts. We talked to four of them about their recent projects, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them to create the most value for our customers.

In the third interview of this series, Evert Smit talks about consulting on bringing a state organisation to a more state-to-the-art IT system and helping them keep their image of an innovation company. Evert is a Principal Consultant with long-year expertise on topics like Strategy, Change Management, Digital Transformation and Data Intelligence.

What experiences do you have in Digital Business Consulting?

Digital Business Consulting is a broad term and an explanation is depending on the perspective you are looking at it. The concept of business consulting is a very old concept: someone missing expertise in a certain topic asks you as an experienced partner for consultancy and advice. I mainly have been providing consultancy on processes, to be more precise, strategy, and topics like content management and digital asset management. This involves an assessment around the topic, a definition of the target state, and building a strategy on how to get from the current state to the target state.

Can you describe the project you used that experience in and how you did it?

One of the projects was a large project in a large Swiss financial institution where they had an existing project portfolio management system. They would do a significant amount of work in Excel, Access, and other sources in order to steer the portfolio. They came to the point where it was no longer feasible to work with these handmade tools and they also wanted a switch to a single system that would meet their needs. To do so they had multiple teams around the world to define the strategy and based on that strategy, define the project to achieve the goal.

My main involvement in that project was to represent the Swiss part of this financial institution, because the processes in Switzerland are different than the processes in the USA or Asia. Given the background of my knowledge, it was my job to collaborate with my American and Asian contacts and colleagues to come up with solutions, that would work as a unified process and meet the requirements from all regions.

What were the challenges in that project?

The big challenge around this is finding the common ground, as it is often the case in consulting. If you were to start on a green field, you would have the ideal solution with a best practice commanding you how to do it. On the other hand, there is the organization which has been doing a certain action in a specific way for decades. That is where the unstoppable force hits the immovable object. Organisations are often reluctant to change, people like to work the way they were used to work for the last 10 years.

Yet, if you maintain that approach, you’ll never be able to move to a more up-to-date work, because that world works differently. The biggest struggle I always met is people and their unwillingness to change. Some are more willing to change and some are less. The resistance towards change that people have is always the biggest challenge that I see in projects.

What have been the core tasks?

I’ll take another project to answer that. It’s the same topic, where we had a group of people, that had the task to come up with a new IT strategy for the company and bring them into the new millennium. The customer was a science-based innovation public institution and had to move forward from a rather old-fashioned way of working to a more state-to-the-art one.

In a team of three people, we sat together and in workshops we worked out what their current state is and discussed what target state they want to achieve. We came up with a couple of proposals on how they could move from the current state to the desired one. Our main task was to be an expert in the target state and allow the customer to understand what the target state would be like. Workshop facilitation was a big part of the role, too. This was done by a senior consultant that we provided.

With which methods did ERNI support the customer in realizing their project?

We did ideation workshops, collected information, analysed it and found solutions and possible scenarios of future development. This was was done with a rather classical approach of target state definition, current state description and gap analyse between the two.

What did ERNI contribute to the project, regarding digitalization?

As part of the target state, we recommended moving into the cloud. The customer still used SAP R3, that brought little use to them according to their needs. We recommended the customer to move to a cloud based ERP, because that would be much closer to what they needed. And also, to move away from an on-premise installation that required people to be onsite into a cloud-based environment, that would allow them to follow up on their digital strategy of becoming an innovative company.


This was the third part of our interview series about Digital Business Consulting.  If you’re interested in our service, you can find more information on our website.


Would you like to consult your challenges with Evert? Book a slot in his calendar.


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