On my flight to meet with internal auditors at their company’s annual IA conference, I sat next to a partner in the advisory practice of Deloitte. He helps the finance organizations of his clients in a number of interesting ways, including process engineering.
One of the types of projects where he is asked to assist is the implementation of ERP systems. The concern of the finance team is that their interests would be insufficiently addressed during the 2-3 year project.
I can understand that some companies may not have the bandwidth or the expertise in-house and go to one of the large accounting firms, like Deloitte, for help. (I asked about other firms, such as Accenture, and he confirmed that they are also a major player.)
What I have more difficulty with is the idea of a 2-3 year ERP implementation.
How can we be confident that we know what the business will look like, and what our needs will be, in 2-3 years?
Organizations of all stripes (private, public, government, NGO, etc., etc.) and in all industries need to be agile.
They need to be able to react promptly and with confidence, if not anticipate, change.
If I was on the board of a company where management told us that they wanted to take such a long time to implement a new system, I would be highly agitated!
ERP systems cost a ton of money, and I would challenge management:
- Can the business wait two or three years to have its IT needs met?
- Won’t those needs change over that period?
- Will there be an acceptable return on investment for the project?
- Isn’t there a better, more agile way to meet our current and future needs?
As an executive, I would be asking the same questions.
As head of internal audit, I would sit down with the CEO and share my concerns.
If we are not agile, we may perish.
The IT industry is moving towards faster delivery of services, using methods like DevOps.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) explains:
DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. This speed enables organizations to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market.
I attended a conference in Las Vegas last year organized by Gene Kim of IT Revolution and was excited by the progress I heard from companies using DevOps.
If you want to learn more, I recommend Gene’s website and the book he wrote with Kevin Behr and George Spafford, The Phoenix Project.
Don’t let IT stop your organization from being agile, ready to change as the environment changes.
In fact, consider whether your management team (and board) are sufficiently agile to survive.
I welcome your thoughts.
- The agile organization - May 17, 2023
- Internal audit and ESG: My opinion - April 24, 2023
- Was Silicon Valley Bank a failure of risk management? - March 28, 2023
Leave a Reply