Ensuring Leadership to Mitigate Project Risks

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There are a range of socio-economic reasons for a company in the extractive industry to implement an information management system (IMS) such as the Boréalis Software . However, once a company has decided to acquire such a system, there is an upstream battle required to successfully obtain positive adoption from various internal stakeholders. Here are some of the challenges and opportunities engendered by the adoption process and standard project management organization.

The BoréalisIMSTM can, up to some extent, be compared to an Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP): it is composed of a series of modules which address operation requirements. Just like an ERP, each module focuses on certain key aspects, which are interrelated through a common set of data (an example of similar data for an ERP could be customers or suppliers) and a common set of rules (GAAP).  In the realm of ERPs, these systems have grown to industry standards which have long been in practice. Notwithstanding each company’s particularities in the way the organization is structured, or the fact that accounting rules evolve, there are nonetheless widely accepted standards at any given point that favour the implementation of an ERP and its internal adoption.

Like the ERP, the BoréalisIMSTM faces a challenge in its global adoption as it centralizes and promotes the visibility of data from various company sites and business units which may have had, up to the implementation of the system,  a greater control over the information they communicated.

Early and favourable adoption requires that the project has a champion with sufficient clout within the enterprise. This may even require that it be the CEO. The champion will assist in the promotion of the system during the early phases of the project and help resolve issues and resistance during its later phases.

The project champion

Change, therefore, needs to be addressed with strong motivation.  The larger the implementation footprint, the greater the effort. Just as the successful implementation of an ERP depends on the buy-in and active involvement of multiple departments, so should the implementation of a CSR IMS. Case in point, one would not leave the implementation of SAP to a solitary resource. Each department involved will have its particular take on processes, procedures, data support, reports, etc. These differences will require assessment against whatever budget, scope and timeline constraints the project may have.

The project champion will need to carry the flame to other executives and win their buy-in to the project. As such, he/she will require the necessary arguments: positive, leadership-type arguments will come from personal experience and success stories. They may also include feedback from consultants with a strong established reputation.  Other arguments may come from the company or others past failures, or from issues arising from the non-compliance of guidelines, regulations or laws.

During the promotion process, new requirements will surface, which may affect current configurations. Changes will need to be assessed in a strategic way. The creation of a Project Committee is essential to track and prioritize the new requirements.

The steering committee

Once there is a formal commitment to proceed with the implementation, a Steering Committee should be formed, composed of executive leaders accountable for departments and business units. During the course of the project, the steering committee will assist in facilitating escalated issues and make necessary strategic decisions.

Without a project champion, the lack of global visibility the project will require occurs. This ultimately limits the implementation footprint – and success – of the project.  More importantly, the system, in its limited implementation, will have been configured according to the requirements of the single, or few users or departments involved. This may not satisfy, or even contradict what other departments would have needed, thereby limiting the adoption process.

Without a steering committee, a project may be way sided at the expense of other more visible projects.  Issues may not be addressed or resolved in a timely manner and create other challenges.

Internal promotion is a key success factor in the implementation of an information management system, such as the Boréalis Software due to its large implementation footprint. Promotion is initially provided through the project champion, but also encouraged by the steering committee during the project execution phase. In cases where these do not cases, substantial effort must be made by the project team to bring other departments or business units on board. This may be a long and slow process, unless there is a known challenge that the IMS can assist with. Only through several encounters with various resources will these challenges be identified, and quick wins achieved.

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