Managing Enterprise Change to Drive Internal ROI

Implementation projects don't have to be painful for your company. Use these helpful tips to ensure that you don't waste time or money while making enterprise-wise processes more efficient.


Implementation projects don't have to be painful for your company. Use these helpful tips to ensure that you don't waste time or money while making enterprise-wise processes more efficient.

A pharmaceutical company decides to implement a supply chain management system across the corporation, replacing its current unmanageable patchwork of disparate systems that provides no unified way to maintain assets (i.e., via procurement of maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) parts and materials). Having just completed a successful implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the project manager requests that his implementation team consist of experts from each of the company's locations.

The project manager, along with the "decision makers," receives continuous feedback from the designers and considers their recommendations in the context of purchasing/asset management best practices. At each site, the individual project "owners" take responsibility for successful implementation of the system. The corporate core team is supplemented by a large team at each site, as well as a subject matter expert for each component of the system. As a result, the project is considered successful at all levels of the corporation.

A manufacturing company decides to implement an enterprise-wide financial management and procurement system. In preparation for the event, the CEO and his team look strategically at the entire information infrastructure of the company.

They undertake a major study of the company's manufacturing process and the organizational structure of the company needed to support the next generation of systems (i.e., ERP, strategic asset management (SAM)) designed to maintain the strategic direction of the company.

The company hires a consulting firm to examine the way in which it makes decisions. As a result, the company adopts a process for strategic decision-making called the Decision Dialog Process (Allen, 2000; Matheson, 1998). It also designs an information technology (IT) support process that aligns the necessary resources for successful completion of projects.

Finally, a federal government support agency decides to take advantage of a system upgrade by implementing and training employees on best practices. A core team is established, but no charter or strategy is established for the implementation. Although the core team meets regularly to discuss tactical issues, there is no steering committee, and the managers who directed the implementation do not meet on a regular basis. Because support resources are strained and many involved in the process lack the time to be committed to a successful outcome, many of the core team members do not show up for the meetings. Thus, no decisions that have an impact on the project's return on investment (ROI) are made.

Eventually, a new director takes charge and decides to align the project for success. He determines that the core team needs a charter, and that managers should meet regularly with the core team to ensure the design of the new system is aligned with company goals. By structuring the supply chain to service the company's critical assets, the teams can determine key performance indicators (KPIs) and expected ROI.

Framing the Project

In all three cases, the implementation was considered in the context of the whole system. Management understood that the project would not reach the desired outcome of an actual ROI unless the people, processes and tools were aligned. What compounds the difficulty of a large-scale integration is the interfacing of new systems with legacy systems, and differing opinions on how best to move forward. Often, executives and senior managers find themselves in the middle of conflicts caused by the overwhelming complexity of a large project.

Many projects that lack this foresight face a greater risk of failure. Imagine a driver who is unable to see potential obstructions in the road trying to navigate a blind curve. With such an impediment, the view from the driver's seat is not "strategic" enough. Seen from 30,000 feet above, the view is "strategic" to an extent but, because of distance, lacks enough detail to safely navigate the road.

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