Diary of an ERP Project Manager: Strategy Meetings

Today I had my first extended discussion about client strategy. Sorry, Diary, I’m probably using jargon you don’t understand. It turns out that our ERP system is maintained in a number of copies called “clients”, which have very specific purposes. There is a production client, where all of the live data will run after ERP implementation; there is a quality client where problems and enhancements are tested; there is a development client where new concepts and directions are explored; there are sandbox clients, and training clients, and – well, you get my drift. I believe I would rather have my head squeezed in a vise than endure many of those discussions, Diary. It wasn’t only that the subject matter is relatively new; it wasn’t just that there was no logical pathway to a best answer; it wasn’t that the entire exercise seemed to feel like describing the shape of a water balloon being simultaneously held by five different hands; it was all of these things and the fact that every single option has significant downsides. I’ve got to find a technical person to delegate this to; the thought of attending these meetings routinely is giving me a facial tic.

I’ve got to find a technical person to delegate this to; the thought of attending these meetings routinely is giving me a facial tic.

We had our first “Base Unit of Measure” discussion yesterday afternoon. It turned out to be something less than a textbook example of synergy and teamwork. In fact, when Paul crawled over the table in an effort to reach Matthew and strangle him, I maybe should have gone ahead and adjourned the meeting, but it felt like we were so close to making progress up to that point. Unfortunately, after that tangential diversion, the conversation pretty much stopped being a conversation and started resembling the first battle in a war of attrition. The working group was evenly divided between those who see metric units of measure as being as inevitable as gravity, and those who do not understand why we would further complicate an unpopular project by adopting an unfamiliar unit of measure that no one outside the project wants. It feels like my leadership skills may be put to the test on this one. I asked my consulting counterpart, Marla, what she thought the right answer was. She just said, “I don’t know. You guys are going to have to figure this one out.” You guys. She’s made it clear this isn’t her problem…

So we’ll see. I used the phrase “unpopular project” up above. That may be overly harsh, but it also would be untrue to say that people in the company treat us with respect for what we are trying to accomplish. In fact, the most common reaction we get when we approach most people is for them to either make the sign of the cross, or to begin laughing outright. It’s a little disconcerting, but I’m getting used to it.

All in all, I’d say the project is going pretty well......

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E.R.Peterson

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E.R.Peterson