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What Business Enablement Is — and Why You Need It

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Posted in:  Best Practices, Editor's Picks, Org Structure

In many ways, we’re in a technology golden age.

Almost every imaginable business process can now be optimised with a digital platform. But there is a downside: with so many options, it’s increasingly difficult to know which solutions will make a tangible difference — and which will become tech stack bloat.

Given this reality, the emergence of business enablement is no surprise. Dedicated to streamlining technology operations within an organisation, business enablement initiatives ensure you only invest in platforms that deliver real impact.

In this guide, we’ll break down the building blocks for implementing effective business enablement programs, including:

What Is Business Enablement?

Business enablement is a system of technology-driven initiatives that enable greater employee productivity. When done correctly, business enablement initiatives should reduce friction in an employee’s workflow by eliminating manual processes, repetitive tasks, and other admin. Business enablement often happens behind the scenes and encompasses everything from purchasing new technology to change-management processes.

What’s the difference between business, operational, and sales enablement?

If business enablement sounds familiar, there’s a reason for this. Many types of “enablement” have sprung up over the years as technology and solution providers work to define the enablement category. Often, you’ll hear business enablement used alongside operational, technology, or even sales enablement. Here are the differences between these terms. Technology enablement is closely related to business enablement; for some organisations it may even be the same function or initiative. Technology enablement focuses on streamlining internal operations through the implementation of digital platforms and solutions. Operational enablement, on the other hand, focuses on streamlining product operations, such as building new feature capabilities. This function typically works closely with sales enablement, product managers, and marketing to successfully launch new product offerings. Sales enablement is all about driving sales success by ensuring the reps have the content, guidance, and training they need to have effective buyer conversations that increases revenue and customer satisfaction. While sales enablement may benefit from all of the above, it is a wholly separate function. Learn more about the importance of sales enablement with our guide.

Why Is Business Enablement Important?

Business enablement is a key driver of internal operations. Without clearly defined guidelines about how and where to implement new technology initiatives, or who owns their success, businesses risk deploying tools that their intended audience fails to adopt. Ultimately, this results in wasted money and technologically skeptical employees.

However, with the right business enablement processes in place, you can swiftly launch new technology initiatives and ensure your internal systems keep pace with the modern workplace.

Who Is Involved in Business Enablement?

Done right, business enablement should be a cross-functional operation. Though sourcing and assessing feedback from many teams may sound like a logistical nightmare, you are actually insuring yourself against late-stage upsets from disgruntled stakeholders. Business enablement teams typically comprise three groups:

  • Owners: Owners are responsible for the success of the project. These people will lead the change initiative and ensure that all other stakeholders understand the new process or solution and have committed to it. In practice, owners are usually IT or HR directors, as these functions often own the behind-the-scenes technology, such as payroll, that business enablement would seek to improve.
  • Users: Users include anyone expected to use a new application or follow a new process. Often your user base will be a broad set of employees — sales, engineering, or even all your employees. Rather than involving every potential user in the decision-making process, select a few representatives to act as a focus group and ensure your initiatives meet their needs.
  • Approvers: Approvers are your final decision-makers. Because business enablement initiatives affect broad categories of employees, your approver will typically be a head of finance or IT. Achieving executive buy-in from an approver adds weight to your business enablement initiative and ensures that other functional heads similarly support it.

What Does Good Business Enablement Look Like?

The cycle of building and achieving business enablement initiatives may seem complicated given the large scale of most projects. However, with the right people steering your initiative, you’ll be able to bring it safely to shore. Here are the five steps you should follow:

1. Gather your business enablement crew
Building the right crew is important, as collaboration between stakeholders is what makes or breaks business enablement success. Using the framework above, define your owners, users, and approvers. Then, select representatives from each group to join your crew. This crew should meet regularly to discuss project progress — and should continue to meet long after solution deployment to routinely assess its health.

2. Define necessity, prioritisation, and expected outcomes
Hold a kickoff meeting where the initiative owners will walk stakeholders through the need for the business enablement initiative, where it ranks against existing priorities, and what outcomes are expected. Clearly defining goals and priorities in this way ensures that your stakeholders are aligned and guarantees a budget line for your project. This way, even as new initiatives arise and budgets shift, you have the commitment and buy-it necessary to keep moving forward.

3. Develop a communications plan
One of the most critical factors to success will be your communications strategy. Great communications can help you land a new solution and, most importantly, drive adoption. Considering the high cost of most business enablement initiatives (such as a new ERP platform), ensuring employees use the tool as intended is essential to achieving a strong ROI. Your communications plan should tell your user group when changes are coming, what to expect from the changes, and provide reminders on solution-critical actions users need to take before, during, and after deployment. Email, messenger apps, and other company-wide platforms are all an effective way to keep users informed as changes happen.

4. Launch your initiative
After weeks of careful planning, it’s time to launch your initiative. Though this should feel like a triumph, deployment days can be stressful as you manage the shift of sometimes thousands of users from one process to another. Several things can help launch day go smoothly. First, offer pre-, day-of, and post-solution training. This will ensure that your users are aware of changes that are coming and know what to do on the big day. Similarly, using the authority and visibility of your initiative approvers builds buzz to get users excited about change. Finally, offer a physical presence, such as a roaming help team or a lunch and learn, so users can ask questions in person.

5. Continually measure real vs. expected outcomes
Once you have your business enablement initiative up and running, begin measuring your expected outcomes against your real ones. Besides checking planned metrics (such as money and time saved), ask questions like the ones below — these questions will help you continue to optimise your initiative. As your program evolves, constantly reevaluating how the solution does (or doesn’t) meet your needs will help you avoid clinging to aging technology and keep your enterprise nimble.

  • What went well during your solution deployment?
  • Where are there areas for improvement?
  • Are your new processes helping or hindering user groups?
  • How can the user experience be simplified?
  • How can you expand the solution use cases?

Business Enablement Keeps Your Business Moving

Though business enablement is a relatively new term, its impacts are far-reaching. Using the processes outlined above, you can easily and effectively invest in technology that keeps your business moving forward.

Looking to take your business enablement framework beyond behind-the-scenes initiatives? Explore how you can support sellers to grow your revenue with our complete guide to sales enablement.

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