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Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development

Troy is a leading ITIL®, IT Governance & Lean IT authority with a solid and rich background in Executive IT Management consulting. Troy holds the ITIL Service Manager and Expert certifications and has extensive experience in leading IT Service Management (ITSM) programs with a regional and global scope.

He is a frequent speaker at IT Management events and is a contributing author to multiple ITSM and Lean IT books, papers and official ITIL publications including ITIL’s Planning To Implement IT Service Management and Continual Service Improvement.

 

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"This blog is dedicated to making sense out of the shifting landscape of IT Management. Just when we thought we had a good handle on managing technology, the job we thought we knew is being threatened by strange acronyms like ITIL, Lean, Agile, DevOps, CMMI, COBIT, ect.. Suddenly the rules have changed and we are not sure why. The goal of this blog is to offer an element of sanity and logic to what can appear to be chaos."


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First, it is slightly cheaper: and secondly it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."
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The Rise & Re-Integration Of The ERP Empire - Part 5

THE CHALLENGE OF CULTURAL SEPARATION (A TALE OF TWO CITIES)

As organizations look for ways to re-integrate the ERP group back into the processes of the IT enterprise, they are hitting a common and passionate cultural resistance.  This can perhaps be attributed to the fact that these two separate groups developed very differently over the past two decades.

The separate ERP group did not become a reality in most organizations until the industry moved to a client server platform. This shift in computing supported the proliferation of the technology out into the business units and away from the glass rooms and mainframes carefully protected by their diligent technologists. When SAP was at Release 3, the client server technology supported the full development and deployment of the suite into multiple business units.  In large organizations, each business unit often implemented its own discrete ERP implementation based on its own customized processes.  This in itself later became an issue which many companies are struggling with even now as they move to consolidate their financial and HR processes and tools into common systems. (Sound familiar?)

Development of these applications was placed into the hands of business managers and analysts who were focused on process and lived it as part of their daily lives.  These analysts were performing complex customizations of standard out-of-the-box software to make it fit their unique business processes that spanned many business silos.  While doing this work, the ERP developers developed a solid understanding of the IT/business linkage and dependency while at the same time developing a healthy respect for the power of process and procedures. (Or failed miserably in their projects if they did not).

Over time, the ERP IT groups became less technology-focused and more business-oriented.  Customer Service quickly became a priority and most of the help desk tickets ended up being related to business process questions as opposed to technology-based failures.  It was well understood that there was no such thing as acceptable downtime because of the complex web of users spread across the organization and time zones. 

As Y2K was approaching, the ERP group had the ear of all the executives because mission critical systems were predicted to fail at the stroke of midnight.  The power and the timing were right to argue for the complete separation of these key systems from the general IT environment due to the painful lack of general controls such as Change Management.  During the intervening period of the last ten years, the ERP groups flourished and absorbed any IT person with a penchant for business knowledge and process or turned super users into technologists. This separation and differences of focus (business process automation vs. technology domain optimization) has made the cultures of the ERP and Shared Infrastructure groups quite different and caused issues around collaboration and communication.

What is interesting is that the ERP groups had influence around the boardroom table long before their counterparts from other areas of the IT organization. Perhaps this is because they and more importantly their business customers understood clearly how their IT services directly impacted the business processes they automated.  Needless to say, many organizations struggle with this difference in management culture as they look for ways to re-integrate.


Troy’s and Frances’s thoughts, what are yours?


I would like to thank my fellow Pinker Frances Price, CMA,  who personally led major ERP implementations and has the benefit of both the financial and IT background for her insights I have captured in this post.

Context: This series of posts represent a companion white paper I developed based on collaborative research conducted by Pink Elephant and BMC. The goal of this research was related to understanding the adoption of IT Service Management within organizations that support a major ERP suite. The results of this survey can be found on the Pink Elephant website at the following link: Survey Results

Posted by Troy DuMoulin on 09/13 at 08:49 AM

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