Jazz Your Project

The management and execution of an IT project in an organization is very similar to the creation of Jazz. Both have a regular general framework; however, each performance sounds different.
I think about this parallelism every time that I execute a project.
The way in which it is necessary to approach the management of the process reminds me greatly of my coping every time that I play a work of Jazz.

JAZZ2

Project Stages
According to the text book, every project has a number of stages:

  • Initiation. Definition of the idea for the project, examination of the problem and the need, and definition of the business and technological goals.
  • Analysis and Design . Analysis of the needs, definitions of the work content, design of the solution, planning of a schedule, tasks for execution, cost evaluation and risk management.
  • Implementation. Establishment of infrastructures, establishment of a system, development and installation of adjustments, implementation of processes, construction of reports, building of formats for printing.
  • Delivery Test. Quality tests performed by a supplier of the system before it is transferred to the user tests.
  • Acceptance Test. Quality tests performed by the users themselves according to processes defined in the design stage.
  • Training. Trainings for users at all levels of the organization – senior management, intermediate management, and operational level.
  • Go Live. Implementation of the system in a real environment.
  • Operation. Ongoing use of the system, continuous improvement, management of changes, support and instruction of users.

These stages are essential for the project success.Project process

A Jazz Tune Structure
A Jazz work has a structure and stages.
Every work has a melody and a set of chords that supports it.
Playing a whole set of chords is called a chorus.
The work of Jazz is performed generally by a band that consists of a number of musicians who play a number of instruments, for instance, piano, bass, drums, and trumpet. When a work of jazz is played, in essence the chorus is played a number of times, as follows:

  • Head. The first chorus is played according to the original melody of the work.
  • Improvise. Each one of the musicians plays the chorus in turn, one or more through improvisation and self-expression.
  • Head. The first chorus plays again according to the original melody of the work.

How to Jazz Your Project?
When we go to perform an IT project, it is important to take care in the performance of the different stages. For every project there is a beginning and there is an end.

However, the performance changes from one organization to another project and from one project to another project.
This is similar to the performance of a jazz work, when the musicians improvise the melody and in parallel maintain the chorus. Thus too at the time of the project performance, we enable flexibility in the process and in parallel we maintain the completion of the stages.

Everybody agrees that the stage of design has decisive importance for the success of the project.
However, there is no one way to perform the design.
Take, for example, two successful projects in the ERP field that were under my responsibility.
In the two projects the content was similar, since the process of acquisition is uniform on the level of the organization. In addition, the size of the organization and the number of users were similar.

First, the design process was long and included meetings with representatives of about fifteen different divisions. We held discussions with each one of the divisions for the purpose of understanding the needs and presenting a solution. To summarize the design stage, we produced a thick document, which greatly describes the processes and the structure of the system.

In the second project, the process of design  was relatively short and included meetings with a team comprised of representatives of the organization. The discussions of the analysis of the needs and the presentation of the solution were held in a focused manner in the framework of this team. In the end, we produced a simple document, which describes the main issues of the topics and the principles of the implementation of the system.

Here, two similar projects with similar content, and still there is a great difference between them. I was required to evince flexibility and understanding of the nature of the organization and to perform adjustment of the process. In the first project, the nature of the characterization was essential to recruit the users to the project. This was because of the great difference between the departments and the relative independence of each one of them. In the second project, the organizational culture, the relative centralization enabled the performance of the characterization in the framework of a management staff that concentrated and set the nature of the solution.

The important point is
The management of the project is not a formula of 1+1=2.
It is important to maintain a guideline and complete the stages.
However, it is important to adjust for each and every project the style and version and to allow every one of the project partners (project managers, users, and implementers) to express themselves in a personal manner and still to preserve the melody, the tone, and the rhythm.

Jazz3

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Apple bought PrimeSense for 345 million dollars

Definitely well done. Congratulations.

An excellent example of a company that chose to implement a flexible ERP system that enabled the organization to grow and expand with support of its unique business processes.

PrimeSense implemented an organizational ERP system, SAP Business One.
The implementation was performed through the Menahel4U Company and includes unique modules in the field of budget, manufacture, and project management.

I was honored to advise, manage, and implement the project.

Primesense2  Menahel4u    SAP

The PrimeSense Company, which is behind the unique development of technology in the field of three-dimensional computerized vision ( Kinect sensors) , has recently implemented an ERP system of SAP – SAP Business One.

As a part of the process of the company’s constant growth, there was the need to increase the efficiency of the manner of access to the financial and budgetary information and to shorten the processes of viewing and accessing the organizational information through an advanced ERP system.

The implementation of the SAP Business One system was performed by the Menahel4U Company as a process of rapid assimilation in a few months, with an overall investment of hundreds of thousands of shekels.

The SAP Business One system in PrimeSense serves the workers in all the departments of the organization, from development and production to marketing, and allows them to manage all their business and financial activity through a shared uniform system. The workers in the company enjoy direct and convenient access to the organizational information and use the different modules of the system in all the areas of their activity, including budget, finance, human resources, inventory, manufacturing, and design of materials.

Vered Weinstein, Accountant, PrimeSense: “The implementation of SAP Business One in essence gave different departments in the organization access to and complete control over the organizational information, without dependence on and mediation of outside factors and suppliers, with the ability to install and extend additional modules of the system according to the organization’s needs, with the minimum of costs. The connection to the system enables full connectivity of all the organization’s systems to the main system and gives workers the ability to produce the data with the press of one button and without needing to use Excel reports.”

Ran Shalgi, Sales Manager of Menahel4U: “The uniqueness of the project in PrimeSense is expressed in complementary modules, which were especially adjusted to the company’s needs and utilized the system’s abilities of personal adjustment and flexibility. The modules that were implemented included the Budget One module for extended management of the company budget and projects, which includes processes of inspection and control, examination of budget, and reports; the Purchase One module that enables management of acquisition requests; the Bank Clearing System for Suppliers Module, which enables bank transfers; and the Document One Module, which enables documents to be scanned directly into the SAP system, so that they are stored in the database, and includes the ability to save and classify the documents according to categories or keywords and to attach a mail from Outlook to every card or document in SAP through ‘drag & drop’.

Rami Menahem, Manager of the Distribution Channels of SAP Israel: “The implementation of SAP Business One System  constitutes a natural continuation of the innovation of PrimeSense , as a company at the forefront of technology, and a response to its need for a solution commensurate with its rapid growth. The implementation gave the company automation of manual processes of acquisition, along with broad abilities of reporting and presentation of documents, budget monitoring and control, and unification of processes of manufacturing, in a rapid, friendly, and easy to perform process.”

Related articles

Apple buys Israel’s PrimeSense for $345 million: report (news.yahoo.com)

Gurdian   Apple ‘has bought Israel’s PrimeSense, maker of first-generation Kinect sensor’  

PCworld    Apple’s rumored PrimeSense buy may open Siri’s eyes

MIT    Apple Buying PrimeSense? Makes Sense

Bloomberg   Apple Said to Be in Talks to Buy Israel’s PrimeSense

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An interesting insight by Louis Columbus- ERP Prediction for 2013: The Customer Takes Control

I really enjoyed reading Louis Colulmbus post.
I think it is an interesting point of view.
I can find evidence for it on my daily work with my customers.

Here are his main point as published on FORBES- ERP Prediction for 2013: The Customer Takes Control:

People ERP

  • The accelerating, chaotic pace of change driven by customers will force the majority of Fortune 500 companies to reconsider and refine their ERP and enterprise computing strategies.  Social, mobile and cloud computing are combining to provide customers with more acuity and articulation of what their preferences, needs and wants are.  The majority of ERP systems installed today aren’t designed for managing the growing variation and pace of change in customer requirements and needs.  In the next twelve months this trend will force the majority of Fortune 500 companies to re-evaluate their current ERP systems when it becomes clear their existing enterprise systems are getting in the way of attracting new customers and holding onto existing ones.
  • Highest-performing CIOs will rejuvenate monolithic, dated ERP systems and make them agile and customer-focused, while at the same time excelling at change management.  There are CIOs who can handle these challenging tasks, and the future belongs to those who can fluidly move between them quickly.  In twelve months, a group of CIOs will emerge that are doing this, delivering significant gains to gross margins and profitability in their companies as a result.  They’re the emerging class of rock stars in IT and enterprise computing.
  • Quality ratings of ERP systems by internal customers will become commonplace, including 360-degree feedback on ERP performance.  This is overdue in many companies and it takes a courageous CIO and senior management staff to value feedback on how their ERP systems are performing.  In the most courageous companies, within twelve months the results of these internal surveys will be posted on bulletin boards in IT and throughout IT services departments.  For some companies this will be first time IT staff members have a clear sense of just what internal customers need, how they are being served, and what needs to be done to improve business performance.
  • ERP systems built on a strong foundation of personas, or clear definition of customers and their roles, will overtake those built just on features alone.  This is already happening and it will accelerate as featured-based ERP systems prove too difficult to be modified to reflect the fast-changing nature of personas and roles in organizations.  The quickest way to determine if a given ERP system launching in the next twelve months will succeed or not is asking what personas it is based on and why.
  • Customers push speed and responsiveness from a “nice to have” to a “must have” as advances in mobility platforms and integration make real-time possible.  If there is one unifying need across the personas of customers an ERP system serves, it is the need to improve responsiveness and speed. The same holds true within enterprises today as well. It would be fascinating to look at the data latency differences between market leaders versus laggards in the airline industry for example.  Customers will push accuracy, speed and precision of response up on the enterprise computing agenda of many companies this year. Speed is the new feature.
  • What were once considered ERP-based operations bottlenecks will be shown  to be lack of customer insight.  Take for example the very rapid product lifecycles in retailing.  At first glance slower sales are attributed to not having the right mix of products in stores, which is a classic supply chain problem.  Yet customer-driven ERP systems will tell retailers a different story, showing how product selection, even suppliers, are no longer pertinent to their customers’ preferences and needs.  More customer-centric ERP systems will help retailers overcome costly and difficult to recover from bottlenecks in their operations.

 Bottom line: Enterprises clinging to monolithic, inflexible ERP systems need to re-evaluate how their enterprise computing strategies are serving their customers, before their competitors do.

ERP

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Three Traits Every CEO Needs

Clear, Short & true Insights
Not for CEO’s only but for any other executive position.

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How to make a great challenge become a great success – A story about management commitment importance

I  am happy to share a story about a project I have managed. It was a great  personal challenge. One of the important factors that led to the project success was the customer’s management commitment.
Here is a translation of an article that was published by SAP:

FIBI           Menahel4u           SAP

Menahel4u Assimilated SAP in the First International Bank of Israel Group

The business software solution is based on SAP Business One and it will serve about 120 users in the Mataf Company and in five banks: FIBI, Otsar Ha-Hayal Bank, Massad Bank, U-Bank, and Poaley Agudat Israel Bank

SAP Israel announced the launch of an organizational computerization system based on SAP Business One in the FIBI Group. The FIBI Group is found in the five large banking groups in Israel. The group has five banks: FIBI, Otsar s, Poaley Agudat Israel, U-Bank, and Massad, which together constitute a network of about 170 branches throughout the country. The SAP Business One solution was assimilated in the five banks of the group and in its computerized company, Mataf, which provides the computerization and information management needs for the entire FIBI Group.

The project lasted only about half a year and was performed and managed by the Menahel4U Company, the partner of SAP that specializes in the implementation of the SAP Business One solution in companies from the banking, finance, and real estate sectors. The project was supported by the consultant Zavik Peskin, from the Tulip Information Systems Company.

The project will serve about 120 users in the FIBI Group, and it enables full unification of the inventory, procurement, and budget systems in every international group and full solution to the financial management in the Mataf Company. In addition to the solution of SAP Business One, the people in the Menahel4U in the FIBI Group also assimilated the following modules: module for the management of fixed assets, Inter-Company module for the management of inter-company processes, the Budget One module for the extended management of budget and acquisition, the module for the management of prepaid expenses and accrued expenses, the SSO module for the multi-company management of slogans and permissions, and so on.

Jorge Leiderman, the VP of administration and finance in Mataf, said:
“The system creates standardization of processes, improvement of automation, and reduction of operational risks through the reduction of the manual work. In addition, the system constitutes a step up in all that pertains to the budgetary control – on the level of each part separately and on the group level – and enables the creation of points of control, even up to “obstruction” over all the stages in the procurement processes. As a part of the implementation of the system, additional objectives in the group were achieved, such as creation of a uniform accounting index, establishment of a uniform budget tree, mapping of the entire acquisition processes and authorities, and so on.”

Asaf Solell, the VP of professional services in Menahel4U and the project manager, said: “The project presented a true management challenge both in terms of its scope and in terms of the short time available for the implementation. The management’s commitment to the project and the successes in harnessing the human capital in the organization fully led to the success of the project. The solution creates a uniform infrastructure that enables management and control of the procurement and budget processes in all levels of the organization, with implementation of a common language in all the units of the FIBI Group.”

Rami Menachem, the manager of SAP Business One Activity in the SAP Israel Company, said: “The SAP Business One solution grows from year to year at a high rate in Israel and around the world. The SAP Company invests greatly in the extension of the functionality of the solution, in the integration of the solution with the HANA technology, and its structural connectivity to SAP Business Suite, which enables its assimilation in subsidiaries of the corporations running SAP. The momentum of development and investment in the solution enables us to implement it today in organizations that are larger and far more complex than in the past, all the while implementing the assimilation in a short period of time and at relatively low costs.”

Press release:

SAP News    ERP.ORG EN YedaTech  News1 EN

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The Chosen Three – Who Is the Objecting User?

Only three people stand between you and the success of your IT project: the decision maker, the key user, and the objecting user. In this post we focus on the objecting user.

images (2)

The meeting

This was our first meeting. A small team of financial managers took the time to come to the meeting room on the fourth floor. After a number of minutes of getting to know one another, ordering hot drinks, and eating refreshments, we started to discuss the issue of the financial reports production. The presentation of the topic went well, but the tension in the air could be felt.

The attack

The moment I turned to the participants and asked their opinion, one of the participants began to attack me. This attack included a collection of arguments against the software solution that was raised during the meeting. She was fluent, and it was clear that she had done her homework for the meeting.

At that moment I understood that I was facing the challenge of the objecting user.

Who is the objecting user?

The objecting user is a user with a personal fear. He can belong to any level of the organization or hold any position in the organization. The integration of an ERP system influences the everyday life of the users and requires them to invest additional resources.

The change awakens a personal worry. The worry can be expressed in fears such as loss of the job, loss of the ability to perform the job or decline in output, failure in learning the new system, failure of the system to support the job, and fear of the exposure of work processes to others in the organization.

How is it possible to identify the objecting user?

The worry awakens objections to the system assimilation. It is possible to identify the objecting user already in the first stages of the project. The objection can be expressed in negative comments about the process, non-disclosure of important information, non-attendance of meetings, agitation of other users against the system, reinforcement of the solution weaknesses versus the existing situation, and so on.

The reasons for the objection are diverse and differ from one person to another.

What is important to achieve after the identification of the objecting user in the organization?

The objections may significantly harm the project success.

It is very important to manage and address the objections and keep them on a low burner. For the success of the project, it is critical to understand the objecting user and to provide a solution for his needs and support throughout the project. Sometimes the objecting user becomes the most enthusiastic supporter.

What can be done?

The following list presents suggestions that can help neutralize the objections:

  • To raise the understanding of the management and decision makers of the importance of the treatment of objections.
  • To invest additional effort in listening and understanding the worries of these users.
  • To identify a solution to the worries using additional conversations, close support, adjustment of the process that will be implemented, adjustment of the existing solution in the system, or performance of a change in the system even if this entails additional time and money.

By the way, the same user presented at the start of the post became the key user who leads the project. Without her I would not have succeeded in implementing the solution in the organization.

The Chosen Three – Who Is the Key User?

The Chosen Three – Who Is the Decision Maker?

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Rage against the Machine – Tears, Frustration, and the ERP System

When I went into the room I found her crying.

From her gaze I understood that I should stop, change direction, and leave the office. She needed time to calm down, and I would not be the one to stand in her way. I will return when the rage had passed.

images

I was in the midst of the launch of an ERP system in a large organization. My team and I were busy handling dozens of users, hundreds of daily tasks and inquiries – How do we do this? What do we do? Why doesn’t this work?

The pressure was immense. It is possible to see the different responses of the users. Crying is one of them.

Rage and Frustration against the Machine

But crying is only a symptom, and I personally understand the natural situation of this user. The launch of the ERP system is a pressuring event. The pressure takes its toll. Generally this is a significant change in the daily work processes, and the change comes with great fear. For some of the people this is a frustrating process that awakens a sense of rage.

Why Are You Crying?

Some of the frustration can derive from the difficulty in performing the ongoing work because of the lack of familiarity with the new processes or the new system. There is the  fear that the work output will decline and pressure to finish the tasks will be created. A user can fear that he will lose his position if he does not know how to work with the system. Or he can fear that he will lose his position since the system will take his place. There are cases in which the fear is that the new system will not support work processes, and there is even the fear that the user’s work processes and ‘professional secrets’ will be revealed. Furthermore, the feeling that the system serves ‘big brother’ does not benefit the process.

All’s Well that Ends Well

In the end, the same user calmed down, and I went back to her office to see her. We sat together, and I explained to her again how the system works. I showed her that what needs to be done is not that different from what she has done until today. The screens are a bit different, and the buttons are a bit different. After she had calmed down, with a few words of encouragement we took another step towards her mastery of the system.

Over time, the use of the system will become natural. Or as another user told me: “I no longer remember how to work with the old system”.

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