by Thomas Wailgum

With ERP, Ask First, Implement Later

May 01, 20052 mins
ERP SystemsIT Leadership

Northeastern's CIO uses an electronic survey to find out which IT projects his users really want.

For all of Bob Weir’s technological accomplishments at Northeastern University, it’s in the crucial area of getting stakeholder buy-in that the vice president of IS says he has been most successful. Using a simple methodology called the Murphy Tool (named after Weir’s employee, Tom Murphy, who thought it up), Weir is now better able to gauge which enterprise projects to invest in and which ones to pass on. “How do you compare whether you should replace an HR system or upgrade the network?” he asks. “Those are hard things to compare.”

With the Murphy Tool, Weir surveys the top 40 senior leaders at NU on how they would value their individual IT project needs and what would be the critical success factors and associated risks with each project. Criteria such as competitive advantage or financial benefits are weighted differently, using a point system that assesses each project’s value.

With this new data, driven solely by Weir’s constituents, he can see where he has strong business support for projects and where he doesn’t. “It allows you to say, Something scored low, and that’s because we’re not ready to do this,” he says. The tool also lets everyone speak the same language on a project because all of the key stakeholders are fluent in what qualifies a project to be approved at the outset. “By having that articulation, we all know the critical success factors that are unique to the project and Northeastern,” Weir says.