07 December 2009

The New ERP – Part 20

Getting to the "system" view of the organization

We will talk more about this when we get to the matter of customizations and modifications; however, if the organization is brought together to see that what is needed is an improvement in the effectiveness of the whole organization – i.e., the "system" – in order to achieve more of the goal of making more money, then many of the petty so-called "requirements" may quite naturally fall away.

When I am applying the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit with my clients, I frequently have a very frank discussion with the management team about our holist (or "system") view of the organization. In the course of these discussions, I try to point out that, in general, the goal of any improvement is to achieve at least one of the following three things for the whole system:

  1. Increase Throughput (T)
  2. Reduce Inventories or demands for new Investment (I)
  3. Cut or hold the line on Operating Expenses (OE) while sustaining substantial growth
The caveat to that statement is that achieving that end as the result of any given change in the system (i.e., the organization) will not necessarily mean that the level of effort in every functional area will be decreased. In fact, although it is rare, it is possible that a change may lead to some increase in level of effort in a department or departments that already have excess capacity.

I find that, if the executive management team has created and has a full understanding of the impact of their own Current Reality Tree (CRT) – and maybe a Transition Tree (TrT) – the executives' use of the CRT (and TrT) in explaining what needs to change and why to the whole organization usually results in excellent buy-in on the matter of any workload redistribution that may result.

Getting to the "system" view of technology deployment projects

While we are on the subject of seeing your organization as a "system" – that is, from a holist point of view – we want to compare another important difference between the traditional – Everything Replacement Project approach to technology deployments with the approach we take with the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit.

The traditional method applied in most IT deployments under management internally or by vendors or resellers is what we call the aim-and-shoot approach. In a (usually vain) effort to minimize risk, the general concept is to get all the details "nailed down" before management turns vendors and resources loose on the work. Executives and managers who hold to this approach sincerely believe that they are acting in the best interests of their firm. Managers from vendors and resellers also generally hold with all sincerity that this approach is the "safest," if nothing else. But let us take a look at just what risk it is that this approach seeks to minimize.

As we said, the way the traditional approach is formulated, the project leadership attempts to "nail down" or "cast in concrete" all the pertinent details as early in the project as possible. Frequently, executives and managers on both sides try to get every detail settled before the final agreement is signed for services. From that point, their thinking is, all they have to do is follow what has been defined to the letter and they will hit their "target" of success at the end of the project.

It is possible that taking this approach minimizes the risk of cost-overruns. (Although, there is a virtual plethora of data available from the experience of thousands of companies over the last 25 years that militates strongly against this concept that this approach actually does reduce the frequency or size of cost-overruns.) More importantly, however, is the very fact that applying the term "cost-overrun" strongly suggests that the project is being measured solely by "cost" and not by "value delivered." Rather than thinking about the value created through increasing T, or reducing I or OE (if you don't know what T, I and OE mean, yet, then go back and read some earlier posts in this series), such managers and executives can conceive of no concept greater than "cost" by which to set goals and measure "success."

Let me assert right now: Any project that is ON-TIME, ON-BUDGET, and of HIGH QUALITY is still a failure – not a "success" – if it fails to increase the system's production of T, or fails to reduce the system's values of I or OE while sustaining significant growth.

[To be continued]

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