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.