Daily Archives: July 26, 2011

Cost Leaders Do Not Sacrifice Quality or Customer Focus, Part II

Yesterday’s post talked about the principles of cost leadership and how cost leaders do not compromise quality and customer focus. It’s only low cost if quality, service, and other factors stay equal. Otherwise, it’s low cost up-front, higher cost (and loss) later on. If an organization is not on the cost leadership track, it should be. However, like any other initiative, there are a number of show stoppers and initiative killers that can prevent the organization from becoming a cost leader if they are not identified and addressed as soon as they materialize. As per the recent article on why businesses should shift from cost management to cost leadership in Chief Executive, these include:

  • Complexity
    If the initiative is not easy to explain and not easily understood by the stakeholders, it may stall before it starts.
  • Lack of Cross-Functional Support
    If there is no buy-in by key stakeholders across the board, failure is likely eminent.
  • Impatience
    Stakeholders will want to see actionable recommendations from any initiative quickly, and these actionable recommendations will need to be capable of being implemented in the near term.
  • Under-Resourcing
    Don’t attempt to build equity or buy-in by under-resourcing the initiative (to keep costs low); as the authors of the article note, this is equivalent to crippling the racehorse at the starting gate
  • Education
    Training will be critical for the success of a cost leadership initiative. A training component will need to be included. Moreover, training is often the best tool to reduce the fear and apprehension that goes with any new initiative.
  • Under-Communication
    Communication is critical for any initiative, and early wins must be publicized and recognized to maintain the support necessary for success.
  • Over-Hyping
    No initiative is perfect and all-encompassing. Don’t overestimate the potential impact of the initiative, and never, ever, say that the new system will fix everything.

Project Assurance: Pre-empting ERP/SCM System Failure

ERP/SCM projects fail all the time. The reasons include, but are not limited too, lack of top management commitment, unrealistic expectations, poor requirements definition, improper package selection, gaps between software and business requirements, inadequate resources, underestimating time and cost, poor project management, lack of methodology, underestimating impact of change, lack of training and education, and, last but not least, poor communication. In other words, human factors cause these projects to fail much more often than they should.

However, as per a recent article in Supply & Demand Executive on preempting ERP/SCM failure through project assurance, there is a way to minimize the risk. It begins with a blueprint of strategic project assurance at critical points in the implementation project’s evolution. It establishes clear understanding of expectations among all people involved — from the executives, to the business and IT management, to the software vendors and end users.

A Project Assurance plan, that

  • identifies the real issues,
  • sets realistic timeframes,
  • aligns the work streams
  • looks beyond the indicators for early warning signs,
  • manages the expectations,
  • seeks objectivity,
  • communicates the expectations, and
  • measures progress regularly

reduces the risk of failure by

  • trakcing milesontes,
  • controlling costs, and
  • minimizing surprises.

It requires a lot of up-front planning, and a willingness to be realistic at all times, but is worth the effort. For details on how to create one, see Rob Prinzo’s No Wishing Required that will hep you identify six critical points in every project and get you on your way.