Basic Strategic Follies in Implementing Business Intelligence Projects

Interesting case study on the “Change Management” initiative at John Hopkins. Read carefully the issues that are foremost in the minds of the employees. Reassurance is the main one!

About 20 Johns Hopkins IT managers clustered around a Mount Washington conference table recently for one purpose: to learn how to prepare their employees for their user roles and training in the new SAP software system being implemented by HopkinsOne.

They angled their faces toward Pam Somers, senior specialist from Organizational Diversity and Development, as she tried to allay their apprehensions: “What do you really want during that ‘doom and gloom’ feel [as the go-live date approaches]?” she asked.

“Chocolate,” someone blurted out.

“Reassurance,” said another.

Somers didn’t have any chocolate, but she and the HopkinsOne team did provide support and reassurance during the two-hour meeting on July 13, the second of more than 85 HopkinsOne manager preparation sessions taking place across Johns Hopkins between now and mid-September.

These “Nuts and Bolts” sessions give directors, managers and supervisors the information and materials needed to understand how SAP will impact their organizations and to prepare employees for fall training courses for SAP access.

Sadly, these days, Change Management is getting to be forgotten in the large scheme of the project implementations. Many companies are bypassing the bigger consulting firms and going to the smaller implementors or simply undertaking the projects on their own through employees! That has meant that the rigor that was inherent in an implementation taken by a Big Four is gone.

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Business Intelligence is an area where the change in the system is the largest when you go to the larger ERP softwares. HItherto, the folks had been using the good old MS Excel and now suddenly they are led into the world of OLAP and Infocubes and Datawarehouses!! Easy to scare them!! Moreover the entire paradigm changes in such scenarios!

Performance Management project – comprising of Reporting and Planning – in such a scenario should be approached first as a BPR project to completely revamp the processes. If that does not happen, then the tendency of the consultants – even the larger companies – is to slam the Excel model into SAP or Oracle or whatever have you! So, basically, your data model had been decided more than a decade ago! Does that sound right? But that is precisely what happens!

Business Intelligence is a greater exercise than just plugging in the technology. It is about getting the maximum out of the data that a company and its environment generates and can lay hands on to improve the Shareholder Value of the company! Sadly, the CIO office which really implements such projects are devoid of any strategic finance thinking.

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