The Right Resourcing Plan For Your Next Project

Each organization addresses their finance change management projects in their own unique way.  However, there is a common theme amongst many of them and experience allows me to opine on what generally works the best in relation to resourcing these projects.  For our purposes today let’s equate change management project as a finance systems implementation- although it can be anything in reality.

It is not uncommon for companies to realize that the most important people needed to lead and manage these change projects are the very people that are working the hardest right now.  Typically, companies will layer the change management project on top of the responsibilities that their finance department already has.  This means that the Controller, General Ledger Manager, Head of Accounts Payable straight down to the Analyst all have another objective tacked onto their 45+ hour work weeks.  They ask these people to face off against the high priced systems integrator that is coming in to get the project done.  This is not a fair expectation.

In general this leads the employee resentment, burn out, or attrition- or all three.  The main reasons for this are:

The staff generally resent having such a large project layered on top of their current responsibilities.  They feel under-appreciated and disconnected for management.  Typically the employees feel that senior management doesn’t have appreciation for what they currently have on their plates and this can be the mundane activities of the monthly close or extend to the really challenging activities like an audit occurring in parallel to the project.

Secondly, Systems Integrators relish this opportunity to force the project on a tired and fatigued finance organization that neither has the stamina or expertise to know when the Integrator is doing a good job or not.  Consider the finance team you have.  They are experts in what they do daily, but are they experts on choosing the right configurations for your new finance system?  Does your integrator take the time to listen or do they say, “Trust us”.

Lastly, everyone is averse to change.  So having your finance team on the critical path to a change management project, while the meter is running for your Systems Integrator is a recipe for higher and higher fees.  Nobody’s interest is aligned for the project to be done quickly, efficiently and within budget.  Employees are less inclined to be whistleblowers because they fear to be seen as negative or resistant to change- when in actuality they are pushing back on making mistakes.

From time to time organizations hire temporary staff to allow their full time people more time to focus on the change project.  The theory being that given the adequate amount of time away from their day-to-day responsibilities, they can get the job done.  While this will help diminish the resentment people have, they are still facing off against highly trained, highly skilled consultants, which may not be a match of equals.

My suggestion is a different spin on that.  I suggest the companies bring in experienced consultants to face off against the Systems Integrators as opposed to back filling your full time staff.  Why you ask? First, it alleviates a lot of the pressure on your full time staff.  They can focus on the things that are important to them- ensuring the day-to-day routines are kept going.  Second, it creates an even match of talent.  You want a team of people to be able to challenge your Systems Integrator to make sure that they are actually doing what you tell them to do- and that the anticipated outcomes are correct.  Lastly, you want people to be able to object to decision making without being painted as a naysayer or resistant to change.

Bringing in skilled consultants to work as your advocate on your large change management project may be just the right recipe for success.  These people can alleviate the burden on your people and allow them to professionally ensure that your Systems Integrator is working hard to deliver against your requirements- not their own.  These Advocates as I call them need to be tasked with delivering the project on schedule and on budget.  But it goes a step further- they need the ability to also let your employees know when they are missing the mark and causing an impact on the project.  These Advocates are charged with keeping both Systems Integrator and the company to task.

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