In our previous blog covering the business process improvements, we covered the need to document the business case. Why did we ever decide to take on this monumental task with so much risk? This thought usually occurs several months into the project and can be debilitating to a project team. It is important to take time to define the details both process-oriented and financial that explain the rationale and benefits of the new ERP system.
The Benefits of a New ERP System
The ERP system itself will help to create an environment that will allow your team to come up with many ideas that will affect your business process improvements. Given this, why do many ERP projects fail to live up to expectations? A significant contributor to this underperformance can be attributed to a lack of focus. How many projects are actively being addressed by your organization? Many leaders don’t have a clue.
How To Decide Which Projects Matter Most
Think about this for moment. Each functional leader has a list of projects he or she would like to implement. Every individual has their list, so they can show their boss they have initiative. There are the projects that benefit the entire company and dwarf most of the other projects. It’s exhausting just thinking of all this work. The worst part is, depending on the day or person involved, everyone has different priorities. How is a leader to accomplish anything in an environment like this?
Keep Your Projects Organized
The first step is to create a lists of all the projects that are a) in progress, b) planned or c) potentially good ideas. Next, rank the projects by their potential financial return to the business. Be brutally honest. A project might improve morale or provide for team building, but take time to assess how it will impact the financial performance of the business.
Create a Ranking System
The second step is to rank the projects by how difficult they will be to implement. Some projects will be technically difficult, while others will might be difficult because they require a significant financial investment. A project can also be culturally difficult. Perhaps this project will dismantle a business process that was designed by the owner of your company or affect the job description of the owner’s son or daughter.
For all of these steps, provide a simple rating of 1 to 3. Dividing the RETURN by the DIFFICULTY will provide a priority ranking. This is only a place to start and should not be viewed as locked in stone.
Having done this before, I suggest you assign the projects as being Active, Backlog or Complete. Why is this important? Because your employees only have a limited amount of time each day to work on projects. Given this fact, you want them to be focused. Limit the number of projects a person is leading to one and the number on which they are a team member to no more than two. You want to instill a feeling in each team member that being on a team is very special and that the team(s) to which they have been assigned is the most important task in their life at this moment.
Here is a sample of the Activity Matrix form we use at Ultra Consultants:
This tool provides an overview of the Active, Backlog and Complete projects, but still leaves the possibility that individuals will become distracted, pulled away by the crisis of each day.
We also use a related tool that documents in detail specific tasks the need to accomplished in the next couple weeks as well as who is responsible for getting the job done.
This document should be the agenda for a weekly meeting to manage detail progress on the active projects, keeping the big picture project on-track.
So, there you have it. These are a couple tools that will provide a solid foundation for your Business Process Improvement Projects. The concepts I’ve shared in this blog are fairly straight-forward. The challenge is developing the discipline as a leader to regularly maintain these tracking tools, leading effective weekly task meetings, and staying focused on the BPI projects that live on your Activity List.
To further your education on this subject, refer to our whitepaper “A Roadmap for Business Performance Improvement.”