Beyond the build: The importance of good design

by | May 11, 2021 | Finit, OneStream

One of the silver linings of working from home over the last year is that many of us have had the opportunity to complete home improvement projects. In most cases the home improvements are cosmetic or aesthetic, something you can see and appreciate. Then there are other projects, those that are driven out of a necessity to fix an unforeseen issue that can cause serious damage to your home.

Recently I was discussing home improvement projects with a colleague, and he mentioned that he had just completed a master bathroom project. While I initially thought this was exciting, I quickly found that the project did not come about by choice and was not to enhance the home cosmetically. It seems that when the house was built three years ago the drainage in the primary bathroom was not configured correctly. This led to an ongoing and destructive water leak. This leak continued – undetected – until it damaged not only the bathroom, but also the ceiling and walls below, as well as adjacent parts of the house. Addressing this problem turned into a significant renovation project that required a full demolition of the bathroom to identify the root cause, a redesign of the shower drainage system, and ultimately a rebuild to restore the affected areas to their original state. All told, the ordeal lasted over four months, caused a significant inconvenience, and incurred a hefty cost to fix.

Before – Hidden problems due to poor design/configuration of the bathroom

Necessary rebuild – Four months inconvenience and hefty cost

Necessary rebuild – Cosmetically little to no difference

Necessary rebuild – Cosmetically similar to the “Before” picture…nothing cosmetically to show for the cost/headache.

While this is a story that many homeowners can relate to, I started to think about the similarities between this “necessary improvement” scenario and the “necessary improvements” scenarios that some of our clients face. As the industry leading OneStream Diamond partner, Finit has worked with over 100 OneStream clients who came to us with different levels of experience with the solution. For many that are new to OneStream, we’re first engaged to craft their initial implementation. We often continue to work with our clients to leverage the power of the platform. Other clients implement the OneStream platform prior to partnering with Finit, then later engage with us to amend or enhance their solution. It is this second group where I think the “bathroom story” above is most relevant.

“Necessary improvements” vs. “Fun improvements”

When we initially meet with companies already using OneStream and start to talk about their desired enhancements or improvements, it’s easy to put these into one of two groups: “fun improvements” (for cosmetic appeal) or “necessary improvements” (for structural or functional soundness). The fun improvements are those that most of us look forward to making at home. For our homes, it could be redecorating, a fresh coat of paint, new countertop, new tile, or new furniture. For OneStream “fun improvements” include things like interactive dashboards, MarketPlace Solutions, or expanded reporting capabilities. These are the types of improvements that, while not critical to OneStream’s functionality as an intelligent finance platform, are the improvements that end-users appreciate because they expand the team’s capabilities, leverage the openness and scalability of the platform, and show a tangible return on investment.

On the other hand, the “necessary improvements” are usually those that don’t take place on the surface but rather, are in the back end. These updates are not as visible, but they are even more critical to the overall performance of OneStream. These types of improvements vary depending on the situation and can range from data integration and transformation changes to calculation and consolidation improvements or architecture and dimension optimization. Understanding that every situation is different, the recurring theme we address is a technical design that was not fully formed or properly vetted prior to development.

Finit goes “Beyond the Build”

At Finit, we take a “beyond the build” approach, which means we design with the end in mind. We begin our design process by understanding end-user needs and requirements, and then develop a solution to achieve key goals. During the design process, we implement an iterative prototype strategy where we develop proof of concept models in OneStream. This illustrates the importance of gathering features and functionality during requirements, and confirming the results are consistent with expectations early in the design stage.

Our “beyond the build” approach is unique for several reasons. First, Finit’s process allows our team to diligently assess the requirements, long-term objectives, and user needs during the design stage. By understanding long-term objectives and deeply thinking through the best implementation approach to realize outcomes, we create the opportunity for our clients to make “fun improvements,” those seamless additions following after go-live.

Second, once the design is approved, our project architects develop a technical solution that leverages OneStream functionality, and proceed with the build in a transparent fashion that allows for client administrators to manage the application after go-live. During the build process, both the technical design and build go through rigorous peer review and unit testing to make sure that it is the best possible solution.

In the case of the bathroom renovation scenario at the beginning of this story, a little more thoughtful planning in the build stage would have prevented the cost and headache of a project where the “after” picture looked exactly like the “before.” Improvements were critical but not visible.

The importance of good design

When considering OneStream implementation partners, make sure to understand their approach to design and to your implementation, including the overall process and methodology. This will not only help the initial build go smoothly, but will also allow you to make “fun improvements” over time as opposed to “necessary improvements” or redesigns to fix things that would have been best addressed from the start.

We will be continuing our “beyond the build” discussion over the next few posts as we highlight keys for a successful design. This will include dedicated information for back-end design as well as front-end user interface design.

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