Diary of an ERP Project Manager: Scope Creep

Day Eight

I think I’ve just encountered something that I was warned if I let happen, would be considered a job failure on my part – scope creep. “Creep” may be the wrong word; this felt more like “hop” or maybe “jump”. It seems as though the Certificates of Analysis which are required accompaniments of our finished products cannot actually be produced with the software we purchased. Everyone is very apologetic at how that slipped through the crack, but apparently no one is to blame, either. While the specs on the RFQ do clearly reference a requirement for CoAs, it seems the lack of the specific descriptor “system generated CoA” lets everyone off the hook. The official response is that we clearly will have the information to create Certificates of Analysis manually (hence meeting the original spec), but if we want to create them automatically, that will require an additional module, and some ERP consulting support. I wonder what the Guinness World Record for the shortest tenure of an ERP project manager is….

An Effective Rejoinder

Blueprint sessions are going well. Actually, no, they’re not; we’ve begun some cross-functional sessions (supply chain with sales, quality with manufacturing, etc.), and it turns out not everyone plays well together. The subject matter expert for product costing has earned the sobriquet “Dr. No” because of his response to any suggestion that we change anything from the way it is currently being done. This is an interesting trajectory, since even I understand that we are engineering our costs totally differently in the post ERP world. Clinging to today’s methodology as a non-negotiable stake in the ground feels a bit like insisting on a buggy whip as a standard feature for an automobile. Of course, on the finance side, the team is learning to drop their nuclear weapon early and often – “I’m not agreeing to anything which might jeopardize the integrity of our financial audits.” Could we look at travel expenses differently? “No, I’m not agreeing to anything which might jeopardize the integrity of our financial audits.” Can we modify the line items on our income statement? “No, I’m not agreeing to anything which might jeopardize the integrity of our financial audits.” Can we order Chinese for lunch? “No, I’m not agreeing to anything which might jeopardize the integrity of our financial audits.” Clearly I need to develop an effective rejoinder.

Still, we’re making progress, I think. Because of the cross-functional meetings, everyone is starting to understand the practical meaning of the ubiquitous “integrated system”. Just dealing with two teams is proving challenging; it is a different game when the planning system has to dovetail with the sales system. I shudder to think about what will happen when it also must fit together with manufacturing, distribution, quality, and purchasing.

It will probably get much easier as we gain experience.

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E.R.Peterson

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E.R.Peterson