It is common that especially in a mid-sized company, any project with a technology component does inevitably land in the lap of the IT Leader.
In the case of a new ERP or any other far-reaching, company-wide project this could potentially take up 80% or more of the IT Leader’s time.
But it is still expected that the normal IT function keeps on delivering.
How should one approach this?
One of our IT Leader Mastermind groups recently tackled this question. Here is a summarised version of the outcomes.
The Mastermind Answer
One needs to realise that managing a project of this magnitude is a full-time job. There is no way to take on full responsibility for it and at the same time “keeping the lights on” or even improving in the normal IT function. These are two independent roles.
The first question should then be what the aptitude and career plans of the IT Leader are. Do they see taking on such a project as the next step in their career? Do they have the aptitude and experience to run such a project?
If yes, then it may be time to find a new leader for the traditional IT function. But beware that a project of this magnitude is not the right place to try and learn the art of project management.
If no, then the IT Leader needs to put his/her foot down and not just assume the role because it is expected of them. Any business leader will understand that mixing the two is not possible, once they become aware of the magnitude of both roles.
IT can and should still play a consulting role in the process and be deeply involved, just not in the driving seat.
Some More Insights
- Which-ever path is taken, it is very important to have a business leader as project owner of an ERP or similar project to ensure that business outcomes rather than a technology solution are considered at any stage of the process. For an ERP project, this e.g. usually would be the CFO or COO.
- In mid-market companies, it is almost certain that there is not enough expertise within the company to run such a project in-house. It is highly recommended to engage with a service provider who has expertise in this and also let them do the project management. (Note that project owndership still needs to stay within the business, though.)
Picture Credit: Ted Eytan – flickr (cropped)