I am writing in regard to “IT’s Hardest Puzzle” [July 15]. During my tenure in the IT organization of a large, global electronics manufacturer, I managed multiple SAP projects across several countries. We prided ourselves on fast-paced, concurrent implementations.
A typical implementation entailed taking a piece of the business, mapping its processes to a global template, minimally adding or changing functionality to address new requirements, and going through iterative rounds of integrated tests and data loads.
Each iteration included core technology teams, regional support teams and business unit teams working together. Business sign-off was inherent as a good number of business folks were made an integral part of the project up front. The result was a powerful team with the authority to make sweeping changes to processes in order to meet business needs for the implementations, without compromising the global system and process integrity.
VP, Customer Solutions, Enlighta
Until Global Giant’s senior management commits to instituting a culture change that rewards what is being referred to as unnatural levels of cooperation among both groups and individuals, the company will fail at the vast majority of its strategic initiatives. The central question is: Should the CIO proactively put in place collaborative tools that promote unnatural levels of cooperation among diverse functional groups, or should the CIO wait for the CEO, COO and CFO to act?
Any corporate initiative that requires operational changes supported by new enterprise applications will require the CIO to do more than correctly install the underlying technologies. To think otherwise is naive—even in a CRM installation where the vice president of sales is the executive sponsor. In the past, industry gurus have recommended the CIO make decisions as he or she believes the CEO would make them. But in today’s complex business environment, even the CEO is highly challenged to make correct operational and tactical decisions.
The lesson the CIO should have learned from both the ERP and CRM efforts is that without a means to identify, escalate, document and openly resolve conflicts, any major change initiative will fail. The CIO now has the opportunity to use next-generation collaborative technologies to solve this critical problem. These new technologies assure management involvement and timely team member participation and sign-off—the keys to success.
New Mind-Set forKnowledge Workers
In “Bricklayers or Architects?” [Aug. 1], Gary Beach asks what we can do to make a difference in the U.S. education crisis.
First, we must change the mind-set of the individual knowledge worker. Whether you are moving from company to company or project to project, you should have a skill portfolio that can be transferred easily. Job erosion, evolving business models and technology change are here to stay, and the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction are deadly to your career.
Also, we must address the development of skills for our youth. In the days of old, careers and skills could be developed over a long period of time with apprentice-type programs. Our current environment does not provide the time to build anything beyond basic skills. More importantly, organizations don’t care what I did five, 10 or 15 years ago. This myopic view, and the continuous evolution of the technology environment, requires adaptability, not conformity.
Finally, we must raise the standard by which we measure ourselves. I am always amazed when so many parents say they have gifted kids. They can’t all be gifted, and the only area in which our children are leading the world is in thinking that they are.
It’s not only the teacher’s support but also the environment and community support that needs to be addressed.
R. Todd Stephens, Ph.D.