Your ERP Implementation can be a Team Building Exercise
By Phil Perkins, President and CEO, ACUMEN Corporation
As some people on LinkedIn know, my background is primarily in project management, working with distributors and manufacturers. I am a big fan of “doing it right the first time” even though my company built its reputation on fixing broken projects.
In order that I “sharpen the saw” on a regular basis, I try to stay directly involved in one or more projects over the course of a year. Recently I was involved in a series of meetings with one of our larger clients where roles and responsibilities were being discussed. You have to remember that when a “software guy” is part of any meeting they believe we are there to discuss system functionality. Not so with us here at ACUMEN Corporation in many cases. We’re more about the business goals and objectives of our client’s organizations and how software can help achieve those as articulated.
As one of the recent meetings progressed it became clear to me that we were in a room full of very competent stakeholders who in some cases didn’t have a clear view of the responsibilities of their colleagues in other departments. As the day went on you could see lights coming on all around the large conference table. I noticed three things:
1. Candid Discussion During Planning Meetings Fosters Understanding
In most organizations, one department depends on another all the way from order to cash. Often, however, stakeholders do not fully understand that inter-operability and how to make the workflow more fluid and productive. During ERP implementation activities it all hits the table (if done correctly) and useful information and ideas are shared.
2. Singular Focus on a Common Goal Encourages the Team to Work Together
While early in a project there may be some resistance (along the lines of “I haven’t got the time for this I have work to do”) if executive management clearly sponsors the project and allows appropriate time for the project to take shape, the team will rally round the mission at hand. But again, executive sponsorship is the key.
3. Management Benefits from Witnessing the Team in Action
Depending upon your viewpoint, executive management might function as team coach or even quarterback (there I go with a sports analogy again!). But they are part of the team. In my experience everyone from the CEO to the CFO can gain benefit and a vision of what works and what doesn’t work in their company by witnessing the interaction of team members and encouraging creative thought. In fact I have seen it energize executive management and help them keep their eye on the prize.
ERP implementations can be time consuming and expensive, but they can also offer the opportunity to build a cohesive team of stakeholders who more fully understand the corporate mission and their roles and the roles of other team members in actuating that goal.