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Prototyping – A Tool to Improve Delivery: Insights from The OneStream Podcast

May, 2023

We've had the privilege of witnessing remarkable successes through our client partnerships in implementing OneStream, the best technology on the market to solve business problems. While our dedicated team, proven approach, and extensive experience contribute to our achievements, there's an often overlooked aspect of our work that we believe holds immense value: prototyping.

Think of prototyping as the opportunity to live in your dream house before you actually build it. You've designed this beautiful house in your mind or on paper, and you're excited to start construction. However, by moving into a 'prototype' house first - a simpler, non-permanent version of the final product - you can experience the design in reality.

You might discover the living room isn't as spacious as you thought, the kitchen layout isn't convenient, or the windows don't let in as much sunlight as you'd hoped. These issues are hard to see in the planning stage, but become evident when you 'live' in the space.

By identifying these problems in the prototype stage, you can make necessary adjustments before you start actual construction. This saves time, money, and potentially a lot of stress down the line.

Just like in this scenario, prototyping in any design process allows us to test out our ideas in a tangible, practical way, and helps us catch and fix potential issues before we commit to the final version. It's an essential step in turning good ideas into great outcomes.

In a recent episode of The OneStream Podcast, Nova’s Liz Weir shared her expertise on the significance of prototyping in OneStream implementations with OneStream’s Chief Solutions Officer, Peter Fugere. Here are the five top takeaways from their conversation.

The Benefits of Prototyping in OneStream

Prototypes Are Not Just "Throwaway Work"

Prototypes are not just "throwaway work" in the implementation process. In fact, they serve as a critical safeguard against potential setbacks and allow for course corrections before it's too late. Just like in building a house – it's far better to identify design flaws or functional gaps in a prototype than having to tear down an entire house that was constructed solely based on a set of initial plans.

While it may initially seem counterintuitive that something created during the implementation process won't have a life beyond that stage, the truth is that prototypes hold significant value and serve as the bedrock for a successful final product. They are more than just temporary artifacts; they are the stepping stones towards a solution that combines staying power, usefulness, and the human touch.

Always Be Prototyping…When You Can

Drawing inspiration from the iconic movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Liz adapted the mantra "always be closing" to "always be prototyping" to emphasize the critical role prototypes play in establishing clear communication and alignment between clients and their implementation team.

Prototyping provides a "safe place" for stakeholders to test out their ideas, collaborate, and iterate. This allows the team to move quickly and make adjustments as necessary, while also building trust with the client that they are in good hands.

Turn Negative Feedback Into Better Solutions

By implementing prototypes and using them to solicit feedback from stakeholders on what isn't working, you can correct issues early on in the process to ensure success at the implementation stage. Prototypes give people an opportunity to proactively address potential issues, enabling you to make necessary refinements before it’s too late and saving valuable time and money in the long run.

On the podcast, Liz said: "The negative feedback or areas of improvement that you can get coming out of a prototype is going to make the next prototype even better." This mindset encourages an open and constructive dialogue, leading to continuous enhancements and an improved solution, even if the feedback may be challenging to receive.

Soliciting feedback is not only helpful for building a solution, it also helps with the change management aspects of implementing a new corporate performance management tool. By soliciting feedback and involving stakeholders in the process, people will be more likely to buy-in to the program. Some will even become internal champions who advocate for the change and help make the whole thing work.

Address Potential Misunderstandings Or Misalignments Early In The Process

Addressing potential misunderstandings or misalignments early in the process also helps reduce the risk of challenges when it's time to go live. Just as you wouldn't want to discover design flaws or functionality gaps after construction has already completed on your house, prototypes serve as a testing ground to identify and rectify any issues before they become costly modifications or redesigns.

Liz and her team once built 16 prototypes for a client, which she credits as key to achieving remarkable results. By the time they reached parallel and rollout, user acceptance testing was a nonissue because the client had already been using OneStream for several months through all the different prototypes.

While 16 might not always be necessary, Liz suggests that more than two but less than 16 prototypes is typically the right number for clients. She believes those numbers help the team strike a balance between productive iterations and moving forward with building the final solution.

Unifying Diverse Business Units with Extensibility

Prototypes enable a seamless integration of diverse business units, just as a well-designed house accommodates different areas under a unified structure. In OneStream, organizations are empowered to speak the same business language across various business units while maintaining a consolidated view with extensibility.

Extensibility refers to the ability to accommodate diverse business units and their unique requirements while maintaining a unified and consolidated view at the top level. When explaining extensibility to clients, it is important to focus on the language of their business and how the platform can bring together seemingly disparate business units under a single language and voice.

To illustrate this point, Liz gave an example of an agriculture and manufacturing company, which may appear unrelated on the surface. They can, however, share a common leadership team overseeing both units, who may need consolidated reports that feature a unified perspective on customers, cost centers, products, and more.

While each unit can run its business independently and generate tailored management reports, the platform ensures that all the data can be seamlessly brought together at the top level. This way, the entire organization speaks the same language, aligning with the structure set by the leadership team.

Continuing the OneStream Journey

Incorporating the "always be prototyping" mindset into the implementation journey creates value, fosters collaboration, and ensures the final solution exceeds clients' expectations. It allows organizations to refine, tailor, and build a robust solution that stands the test of time.

Whether you're building your dream house or implementing OneStream, the most powerful CPM platform on the market, prototyping empowers you to create a final product that truly aligns with your vision and needs.

A big thank you to OneStream’s Chief Solutions Officer Peter Fugere for the engaging discussion and for hosting us on the show. To listen to The OneStream Podcast episode and to explore more valuable content like this, tune in here.


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