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Does the organization play together? (Part 4 of 5 – The Technology)

BY: Collin Quiring

In part three (click here) we talked about how disciplines that certain departments may concentrate upon can actually deter the organization as a whole.

Of course, the discipline that you work in and are certified in is probably the one that you will lean towards as “the most important” since you have probably spent so much time and sweat in that area!  (And, there is nothing wrong with feeling that way since you have invested in it.)  It is equally important to remember though that the disciplines have to work together to better the entire organization.

In fact, many organizations have put in place individuals and/or departments that are dedicated to the disciplines outlined here.  For the PMI disciplines, you typically would have a PMO (Project Management Office) which encourages the organization in the best uses of Project Management.  And, in the manufacturing side, you would have something like an Operations Management Team that helps define and maintain the ongoing processes and procedures for the manufacturing folks.

While each of these departments have their own goals and methodologies there is potential for significant overlap of information sharing.  And, that is where the technology comes into play.  And, the more technology that departments use and the more overlap there is in the usage of that technology the more another department comes into play – the Information Technology (IT) group.  (Some organizations allow departments to go outside their formal IT systems and that creates a whole other set of issues but for now let’s just say all IT services are provided within an organization.)

While it is common and expected that larger departments within an organization have their “own system”.  That is a definite business need.  For example, a manufacturing department often needs to have an ERP or MRP system (see definitions here) just to maintain all of the work centers, materials, inventory, work flow, planning and scheduling.  The Human Resources department has some sort of technological system that allows them to enter data about people including their pay, hire date and other information.  And, a Project Management Office should have some sort of system to allow them to maintain scheduling and Resource Management.

When an organization allows for various departments to purchase, implement or otherwise obtain their own technological systems without speaking to other departments and determining if their systems have points of integration then that organization is allowing for a myopic mindset and potentially increasing their costs.  Yes, some organizations have terrible internal processes or have an IT group that they rely on but which is overwhelmed and can’t provide for their needs.  Even if the department can go out and get their own solution if they don’t determine first how that technology interacts or doesn’t interact with the rest of the company then they are setting themselves (and/or other departments) up for failure.  Or, best case scenario, you end up with a lot of “administrative” people whose job is to take data from one system and put it into another system.   And that can be very expensive.

Don’t misunderstand, we aren’t recommending one single piece of software for everybody.  Customization is a good thing and is particularly helpful in technology.  But, each department should be required to prove that the technology they are purchasing works with and not against other established systems.

To think about for part five:

How do we work toward solutions to this issue?

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