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Reality IT: Business Process Reinvention

Planning in a Vacuum

Hugh arrived with his team and promptly kicked off the meeting by laying out his project plan. "We'll conduct a four-month BPR effort," he said. "One month into the project, we will start the purchasing process for the product that will meet our needs." Hugh then turned over the presentation to his senior business process analyst, Linda Blair, who told us that operations would run the project with the help of a consulting firm--a company Hugh had used in a previous job. Linda showed us a rudimentary project schedule, and that was it. We had come for a meeting, but all we got was a briefing. Nobody even asked for our input.

We probably should have seen it coming. For months before the meeting, Linda had been asking obvious questions about our experience with BPR efforts and the long-awaited replacement of the legacy inventory/warehouse system. This is nothing unusual at ACME--some of our departments have their own IT analysts. It used to bug me, but there is some value in having tech counterparts in other departments. If they work closely with IT systems analysts and project managers, they can be helpful in getting projects done. But when they try to go it alone or don't coordinate well, they tick me off.

Hugh and Linda were relying on their own experiences to determine how this project would run, and normally, we would have welcomed that experience. But under their unilateral plan, IT would contribute only by installing the application, migrating data and running the associated servers. After the presentation, Steve caught up with Hugh and asked him to give more consideration to IT's role. Hugh said he felt he had enough experience to develop the plan without our input, but he was willing to listen to our ideas.

Meanwhile, I met with warehouse director C.J. Diggs, who had been working closely with me to keep the existing COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) inventory/warehouse system alive. The vendor of the COTS product was planning to stop support within a year, and our needs had surpassed the product's functionality. IT had done many custom modifications and developed several homegrown apps over the years to keep the system running, so C.J. was happy to be looking at a replacement system.

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