Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Planning and Budgeting for an IAM System Implementation

As companies plan for next year’s IAM software deployments, many are challenged with preparing an accurate and adequate budget to ensure project success. While software license fees and other IT costs are obvious budget line items, we have found that organizations often fail to comprehensively address all aspects of a project. It is all too easy to underestimate the financial and human resources required for success. For many IAM teams, the selection and implementation of an IAM solution will be the most complex and expensive IT project they have been directly involved with in their careers to date. And unfortunately IP software vendors have typically done a poor job of working with their clients to create project plans, work estimates and budgets that are accurate and reliable. The result is that in the later stages of a project clients find themselves severely dissatisfied with depleted budgets and incomplete work.

Based on our discussions with leading IP-owning companies, we have identified a set of common considerations that can help guide planning and budgeting for a successful IAM system deployment. In this edition of Anaqua IAM Perspectives, I discuss the key areas that should be included when creating an accurate and reliable IAM solution budget.

Planning, Planning, Planning—and then More Planning

We have found that often the most commonly overlooked area of the IAM project is the planning phase. While most clients understand the need to document basic requirements, project plans and timelines, we find that stakeholder buy-in and change management factors are often underestimated or ignored. A comprehensive planning phase should focus on ensuring that all stakeholders—those who will be heavy users of the system and have strong ideas about how the system is setup—feel that they are directly involved from the very beginning of the project. Failure to secure the input and buy-in from all stakeholders can be a death knell for any large software project and particularly for IAM systems where stakeholders will often be required to make substantial changes to their current processes.

In working with our clients, we find that 20-30% of the budget should be allocated to planning. To address stakeholder concerns, the planning activities will include intensive work sessions with all key stakeholder groups to collect information and input about their IAM processes and expected functionality. Working from these requirements, a “gap” analysis identifies the focus areas for business configuration and any development work required. A collaborative prioritization process helps to set expectations as to what will and will not be delivered, with a detailed description of the final solution.

Fitting Your Operations—Business Configuration

In evaluating alternatives for their IAM solution, companies are becoming wise to the need for a system that has the flexibility to fit their particular IP business operations. The “docketing system” implementations of the late-90’s or early-2000 lacked workflow, data reporting tools and other needed system features. While many of the old docketing system vendors are touting their new “web based” technology upgrades, these new systems do not necessarily mean that the flexibility issues have been addressed—companies are well served to understand the true business configuration capabilities of the different offerings.

The 80/20 rule should guide the budgeting for business configuration of the IAM system. That is, although a significant part of the system needs are common among all organizations, it should be expected that 80% of the value in the new IAM system will be gained from the 20% of the system specifically configured to the client’s operations. This will include areas such as configuring workflow, prosecution rules, notifications, contacts, etc.

Garbage In / Garbage Out – Data Conversion

The old adage “garbage in / garbage out” is highly applicable to an IAM project. Low quality of the data – including bibliographic data, family data and docket tasks—can be the source of very significant risk because ultimately the new system will only be as good as the underlying data. It is common for companies to have accumulated data issues through business acquisitions, differences in staff practices and old systems which were initially installed with poor data. Often we find that migrating to a new system involves not a single data source, but the combination of multiple data sources and data types. For many companies the risk of low quality data in their current systems is a key factor motivating the new IAM system deployment.

We have found that most companies underestimate the effort required to convert data from their legacy systems. A key consideration is whether data will be migrated through an automated program, or if it is more cost-effective to setup the new IAM system using manual data entry. Companies also should consider if more in-depth data integrity checking is required by checking legal status databases.

Build It and They Will Come – Or Will They? – Training and Education

New system projects are ultimately only successful if they are embraced and used. The significant financial and resource investment in implementing the best IAM system possible will not provide the desired Return on Investment if users are unable to easily use the new tools in their work. While being “user friendly” is an important design consideration, with business applications it is important to understand that it is unlikely that the advanced system capabilities will be properly used unless extensive training and education opportunities are provided. In addition, proper training is critical to ensure that data entry and data output are consistent and high quality.

For organizations implementing IAM systems, we find that their training and education budget should allow for a multi-tier approach which supports all stakeholder groups in their adoption of the new system. For core users, we often work with clients to develop train-the-trainer programs which enable a continuing capability for the client to teach users how to use the system. While vendors may provides baseline documentation, sufficient work should be allocated to creating comprehensive documentation that is customized to the client’s specific work policies and procedures.

Experience Matters – Having a Proven Implementation Approach

While a system’s features and functions drive the product selection, the capabilities of the vendor to successfully implement the solution should not be a secondary consideration. For most companies, their new IAM system will be replacing an existing IP docketing application—or a set of multiple IP applications—that over the years has become complicated, confusing and temperamental. The integration of these systems to create a single, unified IP environment is often a driving force behind the new IAM system, as well as the ability for the new IAM system to interface to other legal, financial and business management systems. While the license fee cost is a key budget factor, the initial implementation costs and ongoing vendor support costs are generally several factors greater in total cost during the lifetime of the system.

Unfortunately, many companies have found that their “vendor of choice” lacks the skills and experience necessary to convert from the old IP system to the new IAM solution. The result is not only budget overruns, but often more costly, the project suffers from the lost productivity caused by delayed new system rollout, system errors and additional staff time. Companies should actively scrutinize the vendors to fully understand their implementation approach, and the experience of their clients in working with the vendor. Finding similarly situated references and talking to them about their experience with the vendor is critical, including open and frank discussion about challenged projects. Vendors should be able to offer their experiences in managing implementations through the various risk points and advising the client on how to avoid project pitfalls.


The planning and budget process for new IAM systems requires that project champions be as realistic as possible when requesting the required funding. An IAM system presents a new strategic opportunity to substantially impact the business, going well beyond the old “docketing system” solutions. While each company’s situation presents a different and unique set of issues, companies can benefit by thinking through and considering all aspects of the project.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. Based on our experience, Anaqua can provide assistance in developing business plans for IAM implementations and ensure your planning and budget process are accurate and complete.

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