18 July 2008

Who Does What? #3

This is the third and final discussion about who does what on an enterprise software implementation or upgrade project. After this post, I plan to focus on other topics we have been "batting about" in our conversations.

Business Process Analyst
Business Process Analysts (BPA) work with the BP Leads, process owners, and team members to facilitate the business process transformation work. BPA’s frequently come from the implementing organization because they know how the organization’s various business processes are performed under the legacy system(s). They also, in most cases, have the tribal knowledge regarding how an organization’s business process came into existence. This tribal knowledge helps the project and BPTT team determine the size of the business process gaps (current processes to desired processes), the company culture for initiating and accepting change and the underlying motivations and reasons for the current business practices.

Key qualities for BPAs:

  • Thorough knowledge of existing processes or the ability to find someone who has that knowledge
  • Respected by their peers, not a 2nd or 3rd string player
  • Desire to improve conditions and not necessarily married exclusively to the past practices
  • Able to see a larger picture, sometimes with ERP and process transformation some features or efficiencies are lost but overall the organization should gain efficiencies across the entire end-to-end process
Even more significant than the above key qualities, are the following questions:
  • Who will be your key business support people (note that business, not ERP, support is mentioned)? After you have gone live and the consultants have left (or you have redeployed your staff) who will support the end users and their respective departments?
  • Who will be responsible for the thinking about and planning regarding the future support team that will run the new business processes? Your BPAs should be considered as potential resources for these requirements. Select them carefully.
However, as noted with the organization’s BT Lead similar conditions apply to the BPA’s sent as members for the project team. They may not be the division or department’s top performers. This usually means that the BP Leads must motivate and mentor these individuals to ensure that all the work is completed. The gating factor for getting the best resources stems from the conflicts over the short-term “running the business now” vs. the longer-term consequences for “running the business later”. A more complete examination about this topic occurs later, when resource planning is discussed.

Training Materials Developer
Frequently an overlooked and unappreciated role, the Training Material Developer helps set the stage for how well an organization’s employees will accept the new business processes and systems. For most people the first time they see the system is during the user training sessions. Training should be appropriate for the audience, from both a difficulty level and a delivery method. Even with the best trainers, ineffective training materials limit how well the user community will learn the new business processes and systems.

The primary responsibilities for the Training Material Developer are:
  • Working with the Training Lead to use the selected delivery training channels for the target audience
  • Preparing the materials in advance of classes
  • Verifying the training materials meet the project standards, established by the Training Lead, Trainers, Business Transformation Lead and Business Process Analysts in advance of the training classes.
  • Revising the materials after the initial training sessions as needed.
NOTE: Many ERP implementation providers provide their own training materials (such as SAP Tutor or Oracle User Productivity Kit, for example) claiming the materials are “pre-built” and ready to use. Caveat emptor! Frequently these materials are merely role-based training materials, designed to illustrate the narrow focus within a user’s specific job functions. Training material developed in this manner does not provide the user community the necessary background for how the business processes work or the understanding necessary for when things go wrong or for when the initial business conditions change over time.

Sometimes combined with the Training Materials Developer or with the Business Process Analysts, the Trainer’s key task is to teach the user community how the new business processes and related systems work, with the goal of enabling them to perform their day-to-day tasks when the system goes live. Trainers should be familiar with the overall business processes and day-to-day tasks and how this relates to the ERP systems. Qualities to look for in a Trainer:
  • Have they delivered this training before? Do they understand the business processes and the ERP systems class participants will use?
  • Did they have similar or related roles in Industry or Government thus giving them the ability to relate to the class members?
  • Are they patient with class questions and able to answer when appropriate or table questions as needed?
  • How well do they communicate?
Not all Business Process Analysts can teach. Depending on the staff’s capabilities and availability an organization’s wiser choice might be separate or contract trainers. When using trainers ensure they understand enough of the existing (As-Is) and thoroughly understand the future (To-Be) business processes so that they can impart this knowledge to class participants. Do not expect to be able to “parachute-in” trainers at the last moment and at the same time, have users receive quality relevant training; getting trainers on-board takes time.
NOTE: Typically a trainer is not responsible for teaching an organization’s users the fundamentals of their job tasks, such as Accounting Concepts for the Controller’s department or Inventory Record Accuracy considerations for the Warehouse staff. During the analysis of the training requirements and staff skill levels, the Business Process Lead and Training Lead should make this determination in advance and plan accordingly.

Training Coordinator
The Training Coordinator is responsible for all logistics for training. Sometimes this position is referred to as the BPTT team coordinator, in which case, this person handles all logistics related to business process transformation, communication, and training activities. Given the complexity on larger projects this role requires a highly organized person, flexible with frequent changes yet firm enough to be taken seriously by the other team members.

And although this position is usually staffed by a junior or less experienced person we cannot overstate the importance of this role. Without it, users will not be trained or, at best, trained poorly. And unless the project is small, do not expect the Business Process Analysts to do their own training schedules, as many classes should be scheduled in logical groups or sequences across business processes. Additionally, some class participants may need to take sessions across multiple business processes. The Training Coordinator can minimize the schedule conflicts and help give the training events the detailed attention that it deserves.

04 July 2008

Who Does What? - #2

On large implementation projects where the software “footprint” might include financials, supply chain, human resources, and distribution, there could be a sizable group charged with implementing Business Process Transformation and Training (BPTT) for a project. On smaller projects, you may have fewer people and even some roles combined, such as training material developer and trainer.

Who is part of the BPTT team?

  • Business Transformation Lead (aka Change Management Lead)
  • Business Process Lead
  • Training Lead
  • Communications Specialist
  • Business Process Specialist (aka Business Process Analyst)*
  • Training Material Developer (aka Instructional Designer)*
  • Trainer*
  • Training Co-ordinator*
Business Transformation Lead
Think of the Business Transformation (BT), or Change Management, Lead as you would a symphony conductor. It is his/her primary responsibility to keep all the different players on the BPTT team performing together with the appropriate timing and synchronization. In addition, the BT Lead lays out the methodology, milestones, and deliverables for the other BPTT team members.
On large ERP implementations, it is common to see two BT team leads - one that is a resource from the business (sometimes an HR employee who is tasked for the duration of the project) and another from a consulting organization. In a case such as this the BT leads jointly arrive at a methodology that fits the implementing organization’s environment, milestones that are consistent with the overall implementation plan, and deliverables that allow the organization to continue its business transformation after all the consultants have moved on to other projects. Smaller ERP implementations may have a single BT lead that could be “on loan” from the organization’s Human Resources department or a consultant from outside the organization.

The BT lead usually participates in all project update meetings, stakeholder committee meetings, the steering committee meetings, as well as leading meetings for the BPTT team. It is entirely possible for the BT lead to spend a third of his/her time in meetings alone, which means that the more organized and methodical this person is, the more easily all of his/her assigned tasks are completed. The challenge is finding someone who is at once personable, sensitive to an organization’s cultural and behavioral issues, organized, detail-oriented, verbally articulate, and quick thinking. In our experience we have observed BT leads who were personable, sensitive, and verbally articulate or personable, organized, and detail-oriented. It is a rare individual that comprises all of the cherished qualities of a BT lead.

One situation that occurs often enough to be noted is that organizations involved with business transformation using an ERP implementation or upgrade frequently send their “second or third string players” to the project team. In one business transformation project, the initial BT lead provided by the client organization was very senior and well connected throughout the various business units and departments. He was so highly thought of that he was pulled from the project team to take a new staff position in the executive offices. The next BT lead provided by the client was a talented woman from the IT department who was tempermentally unsuited to working in the fast paced project environment. Consequently, she returned to her previous position in IT and the team received another client BT lead. This individual has been with the organization for 18 months, working in one of the call centers. Thrilled to be out of the call center, this man was energetic and eager to participate in the project.

While the BPTT team members on this project welcomed him and his enthusiasm, there was also the recognition that this man had nothing in his work experience that would prepare him for the challenges he was about to face. As a result, the team spent 30% of its collective time mentoring this young man and teaching him about business transformation in organizations (much of what is in this book) so that he could be successful.

Business Process Lead
The Business Process (BP) Lead is the individual who works directly with business process owners and their teams to document current and future processes, improve processes, and align processes with software functionality. In a large ERP project that covers multiple functions of a business, it is possible to have a BP Lead for each core process the organization is considering for automation. In smaller projects, a BP Lead might have all of the financial core processes. Another could have all of the distribution processes. Some examples of organizational core processes are:

  • Record to report (financial)
  • Procure to pay (financial and distribution)
  • Order to cash (sales and financial)
  • Campaign to sale (customer relations management - CRM)
  • Sale to delivery (CRM and distribution)
  • Design to build (manufacturing)
  • Order to ship (distribution)
  • Hire to fire (human resources)
  • Customer contact to resolution (CRM)
Some of the best Business Process Leads were employed in other professions before working in the business process arena. It is the experience and understanding about business process that they learned in those prior environments that enables them to assist client organizations. For example, expert business process consultants in the financial area frequently have worked as staff accountants or controllers. Business process consultants in the CRM arena have functioned as sales or call center managers. In addition to understanding a particular functional area of business, Business Process Leads also know the strengths and weaknesses of the software that the client organization intends to use as part of its business transformation initiative. This knowledge enables them to help the client teams automate processes while minimizing customizations to the ERP software.

Training Lead
The Training Lead is responsible for several activities and tasks. The first task is working with the BT lead and Communications Specialist to discover who the end user community is, including finding out about:
  • how they are feeling about the coming changes in the business
  • how they approach training
  • what their learning styles are
  • how information is communicated through the organization
  • what their concerns and hopes are regarding the coming transformation in the business
In addition, the Training Lead’s responsibilities include:
  • identifying what the user community needs to learn and how they will best learn it
  • designing the curriculums for the various subgroups within the user community
  • ensuring that training logistics are handled
  • setting up the necessary “feedback loops” so that evaluation occurs at every step of the training development process
  • coordinating activities among the instructional designers, subject matter experts, and business process leads and specialists so that the training materials and delivery are as complete as possible for “go live.”
Communications Specialist
The Communications Specialist (CS) is charged with developing and executing a communication plan that describes the organization's reasons and goals for undertaking a business process transformation initiative. In many ways, the materials distributed by the CS are the first contact that employees have with the project. Further, the CS is responsible for producing project information updates and working with the PMO and BPTT Lead to keep the key messages about the organization's business process transformation on employees' "radar".

* coming in Who Does What - #3