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"Innovative Thinking" A Newsletter from Innovative IT Consulting In This Issue

May 2010

We're beginning a new series on where ERP Projects go wrong. This month we touch on one of the most crucial steps - selecting the right project manager. Making the wrong decision can sink your project. Read our lead story to find out how to make the right choice!

Special feature. Mark Edwards our resident Crystal Wizard has a special treat for you this month - a look at Crystal Xcelsius, another great tool to help turn your data into Insight and make your information come alive! Don't miss this interactive feature.

And in his tips column, John Pellegrino teaches you the basics of juggling - something every successful project manager needs to master. In case you missed last month's words of wisdom, CLICK HERE and start gaining back control of your day and your projects!

By Paul Sita, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Paul can be reached at 631-549-1685 or psita@innovativeitc.com.

Wanted - dead or alive. The list of reasons for ERP failure is a long one. And in the months ahead we’ll lay them all out – but having the wrong project manager is certainly high up on the list. When things go wrong, it's all too easy to point the finger at the person leading the effort; frequently it isn't far from the truth. Of course it’s easy to tell you what NOT to do; the harder part is telling what to look for in a good ERP project manager – because make no mistake about it, having the right project manager greatly improves your chances of success. So here it is – the 6 most critical things to look for. improvise your chances of success. So here it is – the 6 most critical things to look for.

1. Experience in ERP.ERP projects are BIG and COMPLEX – and they are BUSINESS INITIATIVES. So, just because someone has some project management skills or certifications in your IT group doesn’t qualify them to lead your ERP efforts. In fact, too heavy an IT focus and experience level is probably a reason to look elsewhere. You need someone who is business and results focused, not technology focused. As with any complex undertaking, if you haven’t done it before you will either make all the mistakes that every first-timer makes, or you will likely be taking advice from the vendors and implementers at times when you should be pushing back at them.

2. Deep understanding of your business needs and requirements. Whether you are implementing only a small piece of the ERP system you have selected or a large portion, ERP involves the needs of the entire organization. As such whoever leads your project needs to understand your business processes, unique requirements and culture to a deep level. Invariably some of these requirements will not be met, or processes will need to be adjusted, and your ERP project manager will need to be out in front of these changes. Without a deep understanding of your needs, this is impossible to accomplish.

3. Positive attitude. Not only is ERP hard, but it may go on for a long time – and there will be difficult stretches of time. Your project manager has to be positive and continue to remind everyone of why the organization is pursuing the ERP initiative- to keep people motivated, and to keep them focused on the results you need to achieve to justify the investment you are making.

4. High energy level. This goes with the above. The project manager will set the tone for the rest of the project team, as well as be viewed by many as the “face” of the project. Without a high energy level, it’s all too easy for the project to lose momentum.

5. Excellent communications skills. While project management skills can be taught, and so can communication skills, you need someone who ENJOYS communicating and is comfortable in front of a room of people, peers and outsiders – as this is where the PM may find himself or herself frequently. The PM needs to be able to communicate both up and down the organization, and command the respect of the software vendor, implementer, and many diverse resources. It’s not enough to have a detailed project plan on paper. The PM needs to communicate critical next steps consistently and constantly.

6. Flexible team builder. Throughout the life of an ERP project, teams and sub-teams will be assembled- to solve a particular data issue, nail down a particular requirement, etc. The PM needs to be able to see these needs, adjust the plan and mobilize those resources quickly. Someone too rooted in the chain of command, or concerned with altering a neat looking plan will likely not do well.

Don't compromise. If this sounds like an impossible role to fill - don't fret! There are many good ERP Project managers out there. There may even be one on your team or in your organization. The key is to be aware of how critical this role is - your project and possibly your job may be on the line with this choice. Don't compromise on any of these critical skills!

We're here to help. Innovative frequently plays this critical role for clients, either in part or in full. It's part of how we deliver Excellence in ERP.

By John Pellegrino, Principal, Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. John can be reached at 631-549-1685 or jpellegrino@innovativeitc.com.

For this month’s and next month’s tip I am going to put a different spin on time/project management. I am going to focus on a couple of things that help with managing activities for multiple projects. As a consultant, of course, I also have activities across multiple clients and many of them have asked me, “how do you keep it all straight in your head”? The definitive answer is, “I don’t”.

Kept in my folders, not in my head. It’s not that I don’t keep it all straight, it’s that I don’t keep it all in my head. Instead, I keep it all in my folders. I never start a project, big or small, without first documenting the activities that I will personally do for that project. I do this at a high level and only for the ones I can identify at the time. Then, I put this in the project’s manila folder (yes, I still use these). On top, where it stays for the life of the project so that I see it every time I open the folder to do anything for the project. This is not the same as a project plan, which lists all the activities for all the project’s team members (and more). Creating a project plan could be one of my activities if I’m managing the whole project, too.

Use it, don’t lose it. Many people document their activities, but most don’t continue to use it. Not only should you reference the document each time you go to work on a specific project, but you need to maintain it. You need to mark activities that are done, you need to modify activities to be more (or less) specific, and you need to add activities as you progress through the project. Don't miss next month's tip - the key use of the activities list.

By Mark Edwards, Datareport Consulting, strategic partner of Innovative IT Consulting, LLC. Mark can be reached at 347-732-9116 or markhedwards@aol.com.

Crystal Xcelsius is another great tool from the Crystal family of products at Business Objects (an SAP company). A dashboarding product, it can be integrated into Crystal Reports or act as a stand alone application. Using Xcelsius, data can be represented graphically and interactively. Drill-down and drill-into capabilities can be exploited. Presented in our example below are a pie chart showing Regional Projected Sales, a column chart showing Projected Monthly Sales for each Region, and another column chart showing Projected Item Sales for the Region/Month highlighted. Try moving the "dial" to adjust the sales projections +/- 20%. Move the cursor over the slices and bars to see the data values. Click on them to change the Region viewed. Click the IMAGE BELOW to see Crystal Xcelsius in action! (Requires Flash)

Xcelsius is a great step toward managing by exception and building a Dashboard to monitor critical business metrics. Besides being presented within a Crystal Report, it can also be exported to PowerPoint, Adobe, HTML and more. It can be integrated into your Corporate web or LAN portal. Contact Mark or Innovative to discuss how Xcelsius can benefit your company.

"One critical attribute of a good ERP Project Manager." (2 words)


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Answer to last month's word scramble.

"The best time to lay out your to-do list for tomorrow." (3 words) ( THE NIGHT BEFORE )

We'll continue to focus on critical aspects of ERP. And as always we'll deliver it right to your in box. Coming soon - look for contributions from key Innovative partners. Please keep checking the INNOVATIVE WEB SITE for useful tips, and our newsletter archives. Amaze your friends and coilleagues with your expertise!

The ERP Project Manager - a make or break choice!

Learn how to select the right ERP Project Manager.

Tip of the month.

Project management tip. Keeping All the Plates Spinning . . .

Crystal Xcelsius

Make your data come alive!

Word scramble.


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