Friday, May 31, 2013



The problem Bombardier has is that it went through two ERP transitions each successful but each had their flaws.  For the next installation Bombardier is looking to fix those flaws which are found in their processes in implementation and the standard of best practices. 

The main problem in this case is that there are disagreements between the project team and company employees over the validity of certain processes and the necessity and scope of some methodologies. 

Here are some symptoms:

  • Improper concentration of knowledge in a narrow set of users
  • A project structure perceived as overly complicated
  • The absence of contingencies or “shadows” for specific key employees
  • The sense from some users that the new system did not apply to enough of that person’s responsibilities.
The scope of the problem is the ERP systems in place at Mirabel and Saint-Laurent, as well as future locations. 

Situation Assessment
Roll Out 1:

  •  Communication gap
  • Reduced inventory by $1.2 billion
  • Didn’t jeopardize production
  • Mismanagement of user input
Roll Out 2:

  •  Much Smoother
  •  Employees adequately trained
  • Clear Vision
  • Unified Message from Sr. Management
This third roll out should build on the successes of the first two and improve on its failings by adhering to ERP best practices.

The decision criteria should be how well the determined solution can adhere to the established ERP best practices.  An ideal ERP implementation would have:

  • Executives should back the project and VPs need to implement
  • Executives need to be actively involved in the implementation process
  • IT and area of installation should have shared responsibilities during deployment
  • Executives need to understand the company’s ability to adapt to changes coming from the new system
  • A full time project manager assigned to implementation
  • A project team that represents all areas affected by the implementation
  • The same project team should delegate their current duties to someone else
  • Training for staff on successful teamwork before implementation starts
  • A retention of ownership of the deployment process by the institution wherein skills have been fully transferred from consultants to employees
  • Training for all users of the new system
  • A reformation of administrative processes by the company to fit the new system
  • Appropriate communication of deployment details to the business community
There are two alternatives:

  • Change the implementation process to more closely reflect the ERP best practice standards with several alterations in the company’s transition approach
  • Follow an implementation that closely resembles the deployment in Saint-Laurent without any serious adjustment. 
Changes that could be made using best practices would be:

  • Enroll more employees as part of team that has the specialized knowledge required to insure the continuity and stability of the project. 
    • Roll out 2 had issues with having adequate number of team members with specialized knowledge needed to work intensively on each deliverable
    • This would allow Bombardier to better retain ownership of its own implementation process by having enough internal employees with the necessary skills.
    • It would represent a better understanding by management of the company’s ability to adapt to changes that occur through implementations, as more team members with the necessary skill set could meet the rigorous informational demands of ERP implementation.
  • Inform the project team that any communication with the users and management must be crystal clear and that any obvious exaggeration will be punished. 
    • The project team may be tempted as in the Saint-Laurent deployment to exaggerate certain details to keep the business side from worrying but any false information from either side is unacceptable and must be addressed as such by top management to allow for the smoothest transition.
  • Train employees prior to project initiation and then add them to the team during the course of the implementation. 
    • One of the major issues in the Mirabel deployment was that the quality of the support was not adequate because the team members were too far removed from the everyday business responsibilities (some of the team members during the Mirabel implementation had not had business responsibilities separate from the project in over 10 years). 
    • To meet the best practices of training for employees on teamwork prior to the project and insuring the project team’s composition represents all functional areas where the software will be implemented, Bombardier could give the project team a more updated sense of how the implementation could reflect functionality over process and the actual daily business tasks. 
  • Change training program to be less rigorous before the Go Live period and more advanced shortly after the Go Live period. 
    • This would respond to the complaints of users who felt that by having a base knowledge of the system prior to the Go Live and then learning more of the advanced SAP functions once they were familiar with the tool they would better be able to fully take advantage of the new system. 
    • If done properly, this would qualify the project better under the best practice standard of all employees using the software receiving thorough training.
  • Maintain a project manager that is assigned full-time to the deployment.  
    • In order to insure that this project costing hundreds of millions of dollar is functioning as perfectly as possible, the lead project manager must be dedicating his entire workday and necessary overtime to the implementation. 
    • This would be a clear message to the entire staff that this project is a top priority and is being handled with the necessary attention. 
My recommendation is to adopt the five proposed alterations to the implementation process.  From my perspective, none of these changes would demand a huge amount of resources, though some need more than others. Having a full-time project manager, adjusting the training program’s depth before and after the Go Live, and setting a clear standard for the reliability of communication all can be done with relatively little pressure on the budget.  However, increasing the quantity of team members with specialized knowledge of the project and injecting additional staff into the project team during the project would represent additional investment for Bombardier as well as a shift of human capital away from actual business related responsibilities.  Considering the hefty sum invested in an implementation and the potential cost savings associated with inching this process towards perfection, I would recommend that we adopt all five of the proposed changes in order to better align the deployment process with ERP best practices

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