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This weeks edition is packed full of information and stories. Engage and humour me, please have a read and comment. Click like if you feel like doing so. Don’t forget to make your coffee first.
Sunday Morning Coffee ‘The Headliner’
Welcome to the Sunday Morning Coffee – Project Space Unfit For Habitation
Today, I’m remembering a project I worked on. Over time the fond memories have blocked out some of the bad ones. This is a lighthearted view of some of my obscure observations I can recall. No one needs to worry about being names or shamed, that is not my objective.
So here goes. In the beginning, after all of the strategic management is over, and the project brief and business case have been written, presented and approved comes the preparation for the start of the project. Planning and Directing a Project!
Bringing together a team to execute the project, along with the key business users comes with an immediate problem. Where to house the on-site project team? Today I will tell you the story of a project from back in 1991/92 I was part of.
The objective was to bring together seven European businesses into one shared and common financial system. The major sponsor lived over in the States. The key stakeholders were split between Corporate Finance and the Finance leaders of each of the businesses.
These leaders themselves were corporate functions in their own right for their own businesses. The total reach of the change and related headcount we never really nailed.
The communication plan was a challenge. Add into the mix three different timezones made collaboration difficult and dangerous, Chinese whispers caused messages to be distorted by being passed around in a whisper. I also called it the game of ‘How do you play paranoia?’ Hey ho.
With the mission statement written and the scope defined, my role was to lead the improvement and design, build and implementation phases of the I.T. application solution. The list of challenges numbered beyond a joke. The software was new to everyone. The legacy systems numbered over a hundred. Their current as-is ledgers each had their own unique chart of accounts. Some supported by only a person or two. Legacy knowledge management and the risk was a factor to be respected and protected. The drive for change was not valued by some of the key stakeholders. They would rather prefer to keep their own systems and ledgers in-house. Resistance was discovered at nearly every stage of the project. Hey ho, we had been asked to do it, and that is what intrinsically drove us on a daily basis. Apparently, it had not been done before outside of the States.
Distractions are common for projects, to either stall or stop progress. Due to the nature of the financial data we were handling, we had to be in a secure room. So we had one built. It had glass walls and a door (with key code lock), and glass windows. We shared the air conditioning with the rest of the floor we were on. This resulted in the initial resentment. When we were hot the rest of the floor was comfortable, glasshouses! So when the aircon was deployed to our benefit, it also brought down the rest of the floor. They didn’t like it. This is not how to make friends quickly.
We had people from around the States, UK and Europe on the project. The various accents didn’t go down too well with the locals. The fact we were locked inside a space, with brand new computers etc, while outside they had the old kit, didn’t really make for good bedfellows. The culture quickly deteriorated between them and us. The decline was also fuelled by the fact people who had wanted to work on the project had not been selected. What followed led to the project team having to move out and hand it over to the host business. Hey ho
We were moved to the basement. The basement had been full of old files until it had flooded. We had no air-conditioning for a long while. The punishment I think was served. My point here is never to make your project facility better than anything else at the location you are at. The knives and daggers will be drawn very quickly and in your direction.
At this point, I decided to make a play and have my small IT applications team moved. I wanted to be based nearer to the software supplier and the processing centre that would host the I.T. infrastructure. The only problem was the gap between the two locations, two hundred miles. My argument was that we could be far more productive in isolation than with the whole project team. Plus it is warmer down South. I won and we moved at the end of the ‘define’ phase. We still had to travel back up North for various discussions and stakeholder meetings. Hey ho.
In closing, it is not uncommon to put project teams into the most awful, confined, smelly places. The best way to extract yourself and team is to invite the sponsor and key stakeholders to a presentation in your workspace. They will soon get the message and maybe things will start to improve. Hey ho
I have a lot more stories, until next time.
As a business leader or owner, we can help you with strategic decisions and delivery them. We are available now for work, contact us.
“Vast Project Management Knowledge and Experience”
Ken Mulley-Smith And Roger Smith are available to work now. Contact us. We both have vast Project Management knowledge and experience in the space of Financials (Oracle and SAP). We have managed large scale changes for businesses over the last thirty years.
As a business leader or owner, we can help you with strategic decisions and delivery them.
We are available now for work, contact us. Read more of what we can for you.
A Guest Professional This Week.
Pro-tip: Financial Group Consolidation reporting by Bob Carter
Pro-Tip of the week. by Bob Carter, the guest pro-tip professional for this week.
I read a great article from a friend and ex-colleague of mine. His name is Bob Carter and he is immediately available for work. Financial Controller, Head of Finance/Consolidation. Regulatory Reporting, IFRS/US GAAP
During this time he is writing a series of articles, this one ‘Financial Group Consolidation Reporting’. Read what his professional thoughts and experiences have been.
Last week: Ask a professional and save time, flip back and remind yourself.
Project Strategy Corner – What is a Project Brief?
A successful project brief will only be useful if you have an agreed project board executive named to lead the stakeholders at the start up of the initiation phase. Having run many of the initiation meetings, the first one must include the executive to kick off proceedings. And be there for the first day on hand to provide guidance and knowledge.
The key other stakeholders including process owners should also be attending. The background to the project should be described, along with the key objectives. Understand the desired outcomes and project scope and exclusions, and you’re off to a flyer.
Name the key stakeholders and their role in this change. Record the constraints and assumptions (resources, organization, competencies, start-up time, technologies). Understand the project tolerances, what can the business case withstand and when you need to report exclusions to the board. Document the desired timeframe for the delivery of the change. List the systems and which will either provide data or expect data out.
When your project brief is complete you will have documented the project definition and outlined the business case. The next level of detail will also have been discovered.
Two accountants are in a bank when armed robbers burst in. While several of the robbers take the money from the tellers, others line the customers, including the accountants, up against a wall, and proceed to take their wallets, watches, etc. While this is going on accountant number one jams something in accountant number two’s hand. Without looking down, accountant number two whispers, “What is this?” to which accountant number one replies, “it’s that $50 I owe you.”
An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor. “Doctor, I just can’t get to sleep at night.” “Have you tried counting sheep?” “That’s the problem – I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it.”
A business owner tells her friend that she is desperately searching for an accountant. Her friend asks, “Didn’t your company hire an accountant a short while ago?” The business owner replies, “That’s the accountant I’ve been searching for.”
“Why do economists exist? So accountants have someone to laugh at.”
What does an accountant say when boarding a train? ‘Mind the GAAP’.
It’s accrual world.
Read last weeks Sunday Morning Coffee Here – Are Your Emails Safe?
I was disturbed to read that some small business owners still send confidential data files over email. Your data is a valuable asset, one to be cherished. Leaving it in plain sight for anyone to see is asking for it to be stolen. Why risk losing their business and data?
May Review Out Now
I’ve spent the month of May during the lock down, creating content to explain my business I.T. services and solutions. I’ve also had a bit of fun writing a Sunday Morning Coffee column. I am an I.T. Consultant professional, everyone can use a little help from a designated professional. Read more about my activities in May, 2020 here
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Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional
Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional. When it comes to managing the different aspects of your business, an IT consultant can help with many different facets.
As a small business owner (or medium-sized business owner), you are in charge of all aspects of your business. You may have to tend to many different things you would rather not have to. This may include, being the administrator, salesperson, marketing lead, and even in charge of Information Technology (IT). Taking one or more of these jobs that don’t quite relate directly to your business can help you focus on the things that matter most.
Hiring an IT Consultant can be beneficial to your business, but finding one can be a task in its own. Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional.
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