Consulting Approach

Traditional On-site

Traditional on-site consultancy is a given. We have been providing a quality service as CODA employees, independent contracts and now Unit4 Partners since the 1990’s we are not about to change all that. We offer the traditional face to face and on-site presence that most clients require. We understand that you need to be on-board with LEVEL8, you need trust in our capabilities as a company and as individuals and we would expect most first engagements in the traditional manner.  On UK projects this is our preferred method as it allows you to see us on site, note how we work, interact with us and gain the confidence that you need. This forms the foundations of a solid relationship going forward.

Remote consultancy

Back in 2005 some of the principal consultants at CODA were discussing their ideal roles. The favourite one was using the internet (as it was then) as the office. Now, web conferences, remote training and web based training and consultancy are growing.

We believe that a budget should be spent wisely and not incurred as a necessity. Sometimes working on premise with the client team is the best use of time, money and resources. At other times it may be difficult to achieve and counter-productive.

We believe that the time and money spent on travelling to clients offices sometimes with overnight stays can be better used by booking remote consultancy with an easy start time for all.

We are already offering remote consultancy and have been hand holding our clients (worldwide) through upgrades and change,  as an example, an upgrade client came direct to LEVEL8, (having worked with us as CODA consultants on their original project back in 1998). They had a mission critical issue with their go-live which was just around the corner, they provided a secured remote access to their server and explained their issue. We saw the problem immediately and corrected it in a 4 hour time frame.  The software vendor had declined to intervene as none of its staff had been involved in the upgrade project. Since then we have had a number of hours booked for remote consultancy to correct other slight configuration issues. We are also helping clients in the UK where staff turnover has left a knowledge vacuum. The system administrator has left and the internal IT helpdesk is unable to answer any of the software specific and user related issues. The software vendor considers this consultancy and will not offer any guidance or support other than consultancy, for which resources are not immediately available.

We are a progressive company.

At LEVEL8 we believe that the most powerful use of technology is that of communication, something that some software vendors ignore. At LEVEL8 we are happy to embrace this and help our clients in any way that we can.

For more information on consultancy services including remote consulting and rates please contact: balal.ahmed@level8.solutions
LEVEL8 offers services on an hourly and half day rates basis for remote consultancy only and full day rates for both on-site and off-site consultancy for all other consultancy work

Main service offerings

Consulting Services – CODA Specific
General Business Consultancy

Consulting services: CODA Specific

Pre-sales intervention

We have been approached by potential CODA customers to help identify their requirements and validate them before and after pre-sales demonstrations. We are independent of CODA and have no issues with protecting our clients’ investment. We will and have been able to identify all functionality and provide an assessment of its application to our clients business. This allows for more informed discussions on software compatibility. The Analogy is that, if you have  family of 6 you would not buy a hatchback with 5 seats even if the sales man said you could fit them all in. You would want a 7 seater MPV that way you protect your family, investment and add in future proofing.

Controlled Upgrade processes

We have been at the forefront of “controlled” upgrading since our times at CODA, even at Version 7 we were talking about controlling the upgrade process when some of our clients wanted to do the upgrade over a quiet weekend; “Big Bang” which is usually followed by “Big Bust”.

We don’t encourage our clients to upgrade as soon as a new release it out, waiting 6 months or so can have added benefits.

If the functionality included in new releases is fundamental to the business then we are able to review the likely impact and take a different approach e.g. take the upgrade offline and until appropriate testing has been undertaken before cutover to live.

Design concepts and considerations

Our team have been delivering CODA-Financial solutions since the 1990’s when we all worked for CODA. We were trained by the best CODA application consultants and some of us are also now considered in that very select group of people. There are a hand full of names that are easily recognised in the market place and LEVEL8 are proud to have a number of those on board.

What this means is that we have (between us) designed hundreds of financials solution using CODA applications. In fact some of us have had a big part in the design of functionality, the look and feel of the application since version 5.

We have been training, designing and delivering quality solutions since the 1990’s and we are not about to change.

We know how to design CODA-Financials.

We bring that to every project.

Design and Build

Although we have strong reputation and heritage we are not afraid to roll up our sleeves and build the application from scratch. In Some organisations the system architect is mainly hands off and a new team is brought on to do the build. That does not happen at LEVEL8, we design CODA and we build it.

Project Management

Our specialism is software building and designing, we all have project management capabilities but we rather that we were managed on large projects, this allows for independence of thought and we can be held accountable for our actions. We are happy to project manage if required.

UAT

We have undertaken large UAT programs for our clients spanning months and including feedback cycles, iterations to configuration and sign off, we are also experienced in the short UAT cycle and are happy to help in either case.  We are not afraid to tell you if you’re not ready for UAT or Go-Live.

Go-Live and Post Go-Live Assistance

Our relationship will see you go through go-live, we have managed this on hundreds of projects (as a team). However, we don’t walk away. We will keep engaged and look to assist as and when we can, our relationships become stronger and we invest the same amount of time in our relationship that you do.

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Team building and empowering users

We do not like to walk off site having retained all our knowledge, this makes no business sense for either side.

“Our engagement model is driven by empowering users to effectively run and manage the system after we have left site.”

This gives you quick ROI in the form of super users that are qualified and trained to run your solution.

Our most successful projects are where we are not constantly on site after go live. There are quite a number of these which means that our engagement model works.

There is however a down side, you must have capable resources with enough knowledge of the business and availability to work on the project and be part of our team.

On-Going Assistance and Hand holding

A new system can be stressful, and having no consulting resource on-site can make things worse. Usually systems go live after a new month start, this means that the users start to become familiar with it during normal BAU, however, the real issue of nervousness and stress arise on the first month end. We will work with you to retain presence at month end, either on-site or remotely

Staff turnover can be difficult to predict and more difficult to cover, new staff may not have adequate CODA knowledge and little handover. This is often the start of what we term as “diminishing knowledge and diminishing ROI”. The new person only does what they are told and then “limitations” on functionality creep in. Soon there is a drop in usage of previously “configured” functionality and a return to basic methods to do the same, these are often manual or excel based and take the user out of a controlled system environment and into areas where there is more risk.  Many of our assignments are based on this scenario. If we have designed and built the system we will probably have left some adequate training on site. If not then we can effectively cover hand holding and on-site and in-situ training. We regularly undertake workshops for clients where there has been a high staff turnover and we able to increase the productivity of users by making them aware of functionality that they regularly avoid for fear of not knowing what is does.

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General and business consultancy

If you are looking for independent advice and help as you start to look for a new Financials system then we can help you on that journey, we aim to be there well after the project is completed and have been live for a number of years. Our Consultants have extensive and long standing relationships with customers, some of which extend over more than a decade or two.

Informed requirements gathering

Tailored RFI Questionnaires

Vendor Evaluation and selection

Post Implementation Reviews

Critical review of new projects and completed implementations

Informed requirements gathering

This a fundamental part of a good project, if the requirements are gathered without knowledge of the processes then this will become apparent when the project is underway and time is ticking. We have covered most financial processes and are not afraid to step out of comfort zones to understand others.

Tailored RFI Questionnaires

We can help in creating tailored RFI questionnaires for prospective vendors and create evaluation criteria to subjectively measure vendor capability. We work with you to understand what is important and highlight these through the RFI, we look to understand the responses from vendors so that we can see out of the box versus bespoke functionality.

Vendor Evaluation and selection

In sales situations it is difficult to see which product is being demonstrated, sometimes the showcase of pre-sales can leave you believing that you are seeing a single product whereas in reality you have been shown a solution covering many products all linked together in a single demonstration. The licence costs will actually bring this home, by which time you may have already committed to the vendor. We can help identify the components, licences and consulting implications. We can also provide and independent view on the likelihood of seamless integration and effect on project costs and timelines.

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Post Implementation Reviews

We have covered a number of post implementation reviews, some shortly after go-live and others where the business has changed or out grown the existing configuration. We have been able to advise on a course of action to align the business and CODA-Financials either through solution re-engineering or bespoke software development or both. We cover:

  • High level solution reviews – where the business has grown and needs more analytical capabilities
  • In depth solution reviews – where the functionality was not been enabled in the original project and there is a need to understand the impact of enabling it now.
  • Critical Solution Reviews – will the current system help you move forward

Our Independence mean that if the software vendors “proposed” solution is weaker than open market competition then we will advise accordingly

Critical review of new projects and completed implementations

  • Project oversight – we can help review project timelines, resources and budgets with an independent insight into the realities of financial solutions and systems.
  • Seemingly quick implementations – we have advised some clients on the reality of seemingly quick implementations when the client expected considerably longer, e.g. 20 days when in reality it is significantly longer.
  • Excessive time to implement, where the implementation team have been given an excessive time line, sometime this is due to the non-availability of resources or not knowing the application in depth.
  • Guidance on design and build – we have a strong background in offering guidance on projects that require less SME days because of in-house experts and are willing to help on key points as they arise in the project.

Our method of engagement varies with each client, some have used the team at LEVEL8 in the pre-sales cycle when CODA is being evaluated so that the sales pitch can be broken down into “real” deliverables. We have also advised clients on the suitability of designs of their CODA system. Chart of Accounts evaluation and re-engineering projects are common and we can often find a smarter way of designing the system. We also bring our experience of bespoke development for key process bottlenecks and can apply this to potential situations in any new project. This helps smooth out the buy-in process for any new system.

We aim to work with you and the vendor. We establish strong, trusted relationships with all of our clients and then use our extensive network of CODA employees past and present to ensure that we help you deliver the system that fits your organisation.

We work hand in hand with Unit4 on the technical side, in-fact we use their technical resources so that there are no on-going issues. Our partnership approach is that if Unit4 are involved then they will help resolve any technical issues. As for business processes review and design in CODA, we have a strong working relationship with Unit4 and will ensure that they have an overview of any design so that they can support the application going forward. This approach has been developed because of other consultancies creating poorly designed applications which cause problems for the client and Unit4. In some cases these have led to early re-implementation by Unit4 themselves.

Rest assured that the Unit4 way of design is a result of many years of hard work by amongst others the team at LEVEL8. We have written many of the guides and design documents that have been used as reference points to develop the process and an efficient design.

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End goal – reference site and happy clients

The success of any consulting company is the legacy they leave behind after go-live, we have a strong track record of ensuring clients are referenceable following implementations. This may not be achievable in the few months after go-live as usually there can be bedding down issues, we will be there during your go-live and help you embed your solution.

We aim to make all our client site fully referenceable, this is our end goal.

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