…delivering ERP projects…

The principles of ERP projects are no different to other projects: establish the requirements, develop a plan, resource the plan, execute the plan, implement the changes, realise the beenfits.  But the projects themselves offer several challenges for both the company and the implementation partner.

A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities is key to kicking off the project:

  • Project sponsor (Company)
  • Project manager (Company and implementer)
  • Solution architect (Implementer)
  • Implementation consultant(s)
  • Implementation developer(s)
  • Commercial manager (Compan and implementer)
  • Leads for training, testing & data migration (Company)
  • Change manager (Company) – if not the sponsor

Depending on project size and complexity certain people may fill more than one role (even several roles).  However where the role is overlooked or not respected (ie subumed into other activities) you tend to find problems arise.

The criticality of the project sponsor role should speak for itself – the sponsor articulates the vision, the 'why we are doing this', provides the motivation, drive, support, etc. as the going gets tough.

When you look at the number of roles, the numbers of people, the interdependencies of tasks it becomes fairly obvious that a project manager is required.  When the company does not take the PM role seriously the project is a likely shipwreck.  When the implementer fails in project management the project will be a shipwreck – at least for the implementer.  And good project managers are not in over supply – people who understand the complexities of a project, drive teams to meet timelines, anticipate issues and realign/ reschedule to ensure projects still achieve their objectives against timelines and budgets.

The solution architect is often overlooked.   The SA must understand the the company, its objectives and its processes.  The SA matches this against an understanding of the ERP solution and the implications of
any non standard implmentation effort.  The SA works between the project managers, the developers and, potentially, the sponsor.

The consultants understand the processes and the ERP application.  Working with the project manager they should seek to influence the company in how they use the ERP application.  They will work hand in hand with the developers in any required developement work.

The commercial element of the project may vary during its life time as requirements change or emerge, as unexpected difficulties are uncovered.  Different approaches my be taken – but it is in both parties interests that fair agreement is reached as early as possible.  Neither the company nor the client want unexpected overruns or costs.

Training, testing and data maigration are critical activities.  The project manager will identify these key activities.  However the company needs to identify as early as possible who will take the lead on these activities.  Data migration is often a source of major unexpected project delays.  Training needs to tbe thought out – for instance require sufficient early training for the testers so that they are able to use the system to perform the testing.

And, finally, who will drive the changes through in the business post ERP implementation?

Explaining the opportunity to business managers

It’s not a challenge to be underestimated. Those of us who blog on a regular basis, interact with various social networking sites, etc., are well used to the terminology. But the ‘is it a blog, is it a wiki?’, ‘what’s the difference’ type questions are there in the minds of many. Blogs, wikis, tagging – a great opportunity if, for a start, someone can explain it to you.

Developing the corporate wiki – real life experience

We redeployed our company (www.ciall.com) wiki (iCiall) a few weeks ago – based on Microsoft Sharepoint. Generally uptake has been very positive and has resulted in much better sharing of information.  One of the interesting challenges we have seen is the ongoing discussion – should I put that information directly into the wiki or should I document it using a traditional Office application e.g. notes from meetings – directly in the Wiki or documented using a minute template in MS Word (with a link from the wiki)?  And so it goes – merits of tracking business development efforts in CRM or entering on the wiki – balancing the reporting features of the CRM solution and the ease of use of the Wiki.

the social context of information

In his post of 29 April, Enterprise 2.0 is not Web 2.0 nor is it an Oxymoron, Bill Ives writes clearly on the differences as he sees them between web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0.  The key section is:’…the existence of an emerging class of business software that does not simply take consumer web tools behind the firewall. These tools are developed for businesses to solve business problems. Businesses are run and operated by people, for the most part for now, and these tools look at the social context of information. There are many communities within an enterprise: project teams, divisions, etc. Then there are the communities that enterprises want to have with their suppliers and customers.’

Feedback from MBA’s re deployment of Web 2.0

In his post of May 03, Andrew McAfee gives summary feedback from surveying students in his Harvard class.  Very positive comments on opportunities for practical deployment of Wikis across a wide range of businesses, from people at different levels of management.  My own experience has been that the Wiki is easily adopted and is a powerful tool for supporting knowledge management and promoting collaboration in our own consulting business.

Charles Handy: ‘the new or not-so-new’ economy

Interesting to reread Charles Handy’s excellent book in 2001, ‘the elephant and the flea’, at this time of enterprise 2.0, web 2.0 hype and excitement.  At the time he was commenting on the emerging impact of the internet, the new models, the new opportunities.  He included a chapter ‘the new or not-so-new’ economy’ – and it’s well worth rereading in the current climate of enterprise 2.0/ web 2.0.  The technology does present opportunities and potential changes – but it does not undermine many of the priniples of business and society.

Web 2.0 Expo SF, 2008

Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media) gave a good key note at the web 2.0 Expo in SF, last month (see presentation).  He has some tendency towards hyperbole e.g. in speaking of Web 2.0 using such phrases as: ‘a turning point akin to literacy, cities…’.  However he has a number of well made and supported points.

The internet becoming ‘the computer’, the ‘global platform’, the trend toward the PC being just another device accessing the internet – is a valid observation.  His phrase ‘harnessing collective intelligence’ has a powerful ring to it.

O’Reilly’s talk focuses on three ideas:

  1. Web 2.0 in the enterprise (enterprises opening themselves to the world in new ways)
  2. Web 2.0 evolving into cloud computing – the web becomes a reality for business
  3. The web, as an artifact of the PC, is going away

O’Reilly’s examples of the use of customer data by companies such as Google and Wesabe to provide relevant applications and services to their customers puts the gaunlet down to other businesses e.g. banks.

Empowering the people

Dion Hinchcliffe, in his recent blog Enterprise 2.0 industry matures as businesses grapple with its potential, captures the essence of much of the change – and the associated issues – involving web 2.0.  Interesting commentary – we have the IT department led web 2.0 initiatives and we have the ‘bottom up’ approach weherby user communities initiate use of web 2.0 products.  Doubtless (1) this will lead to some of the usual interaction between IT and users; (2) will also raise some interesting questions about prefered software solutions and vendors in organisations.

Practical use of Wikis

In his most recent blog entry Michael Indinopulos See blog entry gives four clear examples of the use of wikis in a business environment.  The Wiki offers to potential, when properly implemented, championed and supported, to revolutionise Knowledge Management.

Culture to support wikis and knowledge management

The wiki provides the opportunity to promote knowledge management.  But are our senior executives ready to participate in this web 2.0 enabled environment? email has, to some extent, made people more available (though it may be argued that a certain amount of hiding has been facilitated) e.g. the junior staffer may directly email the CEO.  However the wiki involves a more collaborative and more public exchange of information/ opinion.  In order to promote this use of the technology senior management must set the right tone – encouraging participation at all levels of the organisation.