Management Blog and case study



July 15th 2015

Rubik's Cube

The web and mobility multiply the operational dimensions of an ERP computerization project. Classical methodologies for deploying systems that were already producing mixed success are now facing an augmented reality, a Rubik's cube of 10 by 10 in terms of the variables to be managed.

This multiplication of variables can more than ever lead a company to significant issues if the computerization project's management is not adapted to the new operational paradigms introduced by web and mobile technologies.

It should also be remembered that this methodological adjustment must continue to be carried out within the framework of the fundamental objectives, which do not change: to meet the delivery deadlines and the planned budgets.

In light of the historical average success rate of ERP projects, it may be natural to feel closer to utopia than to paradigm shift.

In short, traditional deployment approaches must be reinvented. Otherwise, the new projects addressed in this approach will generate more isolated siled systems, which basically disintegrate a company's operations.

In the traditional context, more isolated silos are synonymous with loss of overall operating leverage. What makes the situation subtle is that on the surface, in the age of the web and mobility, the magic of aesthetic interfaces can lead one to believe otherwise and, therefore, even justify a flawed deployment strategy at the grassroots.

This is a critical issue, namely that of not going back to square one in terms of deployment methodologies under the justified cover, but to qualify, of a clientele, internal or external, conquered by more beautiful and simplified interfaces.

My last statement gave you a rational spasm? How can we be against a more satisfied clientele? The nuance: of course, always “Yes” to a more satisfied clientele, but… it is also necessary to validate at what cost.

Suppose your customer base is extremely satisfied, but your business is losing monthly. In that case, you may have to close your doors eventually. Understand that they will no longer be satisfied by your business and that they will undoubtedly find a competitor very happy to welcome them. There is only one loser in this situation: your business!

I often observe this kind of management distortion with astonishment, which practically creates a direct link between a "Satisfied clientele" and a "Profitable company" within the framework of strategic reflection.

To close this loop on customer satisfaction as the sole potential indicator of the success of an ERP project, let us conclude that it can be a decoy giving a false reading because what must be measured on the merits is the final operational lever, the overall productivity gain of the project, i.e. its measurable impact, immediate or in the long term, on the increase in the company's profitability.

This contextualization of subtle influence vectors is necessary to highlight that systems deployment approaches must now address a much higher level of complexity of resistance to change in projects. The magnitude and complexity of the "human" side are now so high that they can present an ERP project's real challenge on their own.

Service Oriented Management

To address this new complexity in a renewed system deployment approach, I, therefore, propose to adopt the technological concepts of “SOA” (Service Oriented Architecture) as global principles of a renewed implementation methodology.

It is first known that with a complex problem, it is effective to break it down into its key components and address them individually at first.

In the vision that I am proposing, understand here that it is not a question of cutting to isolate, but cutting according to three specific rules and objectives:

  • Understand the nature and functional dimensions of an operational component (role, function, task, criticality, complexity, targeted result, etc.) as part of a business process.
  • Evaluate the potential level of resistance of the stakeholders directly involved on the functional level (expectations, attitude, training, etc.)
  • Analyze and describe the communication and exchange points of the operational component with its predecessors and successors within the framework of the business processes in which it intervenes.

In this adjusted slicing approach and, more particularly, in the third objective, the parallel with the SOA approach appears.

In a simplified way, my proposal is as follows:

"Let's isolate the operational components to understand them better and reduce the functional and human complexity, but rigorously tackle from the start the question of the links and the intervention of the operational component with any business process of the company."

In other words, let's isolate to facilitate and substantially increase the probabilities of ERP deployment success but by constantly ensuring the full operational integration of the component throughout the progressive deployment of the system.

There would be several additional explanations for the mechanisms and positive natural levers of the approach I am proposing. However, I will come back to them following questions or in a future article.

What matters here is to see the suitability and similarity with the SOA approach, which is based on principles such as the following:

  • Maximum independence and autonomy of services;
  • Maximum interoperability of services;
  • Unification of inter-service exchange protocols.

The notion of "Service" of the SOA approach is ultimately simply transferred to the notion of "Operational component" of the renewed approach to systems deployment.

Therefore, the application and transfer of fundamental principles of the SOA approach to the field of ERP system implementation methodologies change the classic paradigm by applying a local working approach but always addressed in a global analytical vision of the operational component.

The classic approach targets the modelling and full support of an overall business process as the only logical objective for the project's success, even if it means forcing major operational changes in the process's components.

The main idea of ​​the newly suggested approach is to make it possible to tackle operational components in isolation without changing their nature and internal mechanisms while respecting a single fundamental rule: either to ensure standardized exchanges and communications with the other components involved in a global business process.

In terms of systems deployment, it is, therefore, a question of integrating from the outset the analysis of information exchanges, for example, between a given department and another, in the process of setting up a local tool dedicated to a given department.

One of the strategic levers for this new vision's success is that it is based on a natural phenomenon in business: the director or head of department always wishes to control the choice and deployment of a new computerized management tool in his operations. Their responsibilities dictate this way of thinking.

This manager cannot be in constant conflict with moving the company forward globally even if they wish to manage any change within their department.

When he is convinced that the new tool can improve the performance of their department, all that remains is to work on the two central aspects for each operational component (Service) involved in their department:

  • What information is required at the input of the component?
  • What information must the component provide externally (output)?

By working the global business processes targeted by an ERP project from this new methodological perspective, overall efficiency and effectiveness are constantly at the center of deployment concerns through the natural mechanism of constant validation of intercomponent exchanges' integrity.

Also, the deployment team's focus and attention tackle reduced problems on the operational and human plan, which reduces the risk of slippage and automatically increases the probability of success of the ERP project.

Good management.

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