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September, 2007

Summer's over. Let's get back to work and the task at hand! In the August issue of Innovative Thinking, we gave you the secrets of gathering business requirements, which ultimately drive every successful ERP project. This month, we continue our ERP Done Right series - with a discussion of ORGANIZATION. Put your ERP Done Right articles together and you'll have a cookbook for great ERP results. Don't miss a single issue!

ERP Project Success - It's all about the Organization! By Paul Sita, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Paul can be reached at 631-549-1685 or psita@innovativeitc.com.

I followed the Powerpoint Org. Chart - What else is there? Every ERP vendor and implementer has their methodology and somewhere within that methodology is a “preferred” project organization chart. When they show it and describe their project methodology in Powerpoint, it looks so great and neat. In fact it’s hard to imagine something going wrong – what with an Executive sponsor, Steering committee, project managers, cross functional team, etc.

Ultimately project success comes down to ORGANIZATION, and I mean paying attention to your organization, your company -- not the organization of the project team.

Yes, you need a project team, and yes you need representatives from across the organization. But ultimately, there are certain things about your particular organization that will have more to do with the success of the project than all the project meetings, status reports and updates put together.

The strong, not so silent types. There’s probably someone in the organization whose tacit approval and support is critical. That person may or may not be an active member of the steering committee. They could be a powerful salesperson or sales manager. There may be a strong CFO, who doesn’t believe in ERP and large scale IT initiatives sending out strong negative signals, waiting to pounce when the project hits a road bump. There may be some influential old-timers in IT who are threatened by the new system, newer technology and saying yes, yes, yes when they mean no, no, no!

Overcoming past failures. You may have a history of failed projects in your organization. If so, don’t overlook the communications aspect. You have a lot of PR work ahead of you to get the organization to understand the project, and the success factors driving the project. In an atmosphere where failure is the norm, even the best-run project can be viewed negatively.

Lip service support. Everyone knows that top management support of an ERP initiative is critical. But do you have real support, or “lip service” support? When it comes down to spending time on the ERP project vs. spending time on day to day activities, will your management come down on the side of the ERP project?

The biggest factor of all. Fundamentally, ERP projects are about getting large numbers of people to change their behavior for reasons that either won’t make their lives particularly easier, or will make it easier, but only after it gets harder.

  1. You’re asking a lot of people to do a lot more work than normal.
  2. You’re asking a lot of people to work together who may not like each other.
  3. You’re asking a lot of people to share information that they usually don’t share and aren’t comfortable sharing, particularly in group situations.

    Are these enough reasons you aren’t getting unbridled cooperation?

Organizing around the organization. Organizing your project without taking into account these (and many other) factors about your organization can doom you to failure before you begin. But enough of obstacles, there must be solutions.

Stay tuned. Next month we’ll start dealing with real project organization obstacles.

Tip of the Month

Who should attend project status meetings? (The answer is somewhere in the "middle")
By John Pellegrino, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. John can be reached at 631-549-1685 or jpellegrino@innovativeitc.com.

In my continuing series of tips on project status meetings, this month we focus on --who attends these meetings?.

It's not the quantity that counts, but the quality. I have had both successful and unsuccessful status meetings with 2 or 3 people, as well as some with 8 or 9 people. Of course, this depends on the size and complexity of the project. However, don't base the decision on who to invite to the regular status meetings based on a fixed number of people (“quantity”), but rather on the role that a person plays on the project team (“quality”).

Don't set your sights too high. In every project set up correctly there is an executive sponsor and/or a steering committee of people in upper management whose role is ,it>to help-- with the project’s direction, with communicating to the rest of the organization, and with critical decisions that the team cannot decide on. They do not have any formal “day to day” activities related to the project. They do not belong at the regular status meetings. Depending on their preference and the scope of the project, it may be appropriate to send the steering committee status reports on a regular basis.

Don't set your sights too low. Likewise, there will be people on the project team that are performing activities at a “lower level” with no responsibilities to lead or manage. For example, if someone is working on creating forms and reports, but they are not managing what forms and reports are needed, they do not belong at the regular status meetings. They would attend other meetings with whoever is managing this aspect of the project.

The answer is somewhere in the middle. That leaves team members that have some “day to day” responsibilities to the project and some management aspects in their activities. This is the group that should meet on a regular basis to review the status of the project. This group includes the project manager, and any sub-project manager or team leader, whether they be business or technically oriented. One final note – there are occasions where one person has many roles within a project. For example, the person programming the forms and reports may actually be managing the work that needs to be done, as well. As the sub-project manager they should be at the status meeting, but make sure that they do not confuse their reason for attending and get into too much detail discussion of the issues as the report programmer.

What's new?

The Question of the month!! Every month we field a question from one of our fearless readers! Don't be shy. Submit your hardest question and see how we do.

Word Scramble time.
“Team of senior management providing high level project guidance. " (2 words)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Answer to last month's word scramble.

“ One Characteristic of a good business requirement". (2 words) (VERY SPECIFIC)

Question of the month. This month's question comes from Louis C. in Melville

We've been looking for an ERP system on and off for 3 years now. How can we bring this to a successful conclusion? When companies have been looking for a system for several years, one of three things may be happening. Either they are not really committed, they don't have a well defined set of business requirements, or they don't have a well defined process to follow. It sounds logical that a group of smart people in a company could select the right software for their company - but in many cases they simply cannot! This is a specialty. Look at our earlier issues of our ERP newsletter for tips on how to conduct this process - or better yet, give us a call!!

A Look Ahead To Next Month

In October we'll continue ERP Done Right when we discuss overcoming organizational obstacles.

We want your feedback. Contact us

Innovative IT Consulting, LLC
(631) 549-1685