Monday, April 14, 2014

"Crazy or Courageous?": Impressive C-level presentation on the importance of branding and selling a project

Last week, while attending Collaborate 14 in Las Vegas, one of the sessions I attended was Crazy or Courageous? Lessons Learned From Making it Happen by Patrick Ott from Amway. Patrick shared his experience during the first global implementation of Oracle E-Business Suite at Amway across 31 European markets. This was a C-level presentation, targeting managers and especially managers outside of IT.

Patrick Ott, Operations Directory, Amway

* Disclaimer though. Raastech, the company I work for, currently supports Amway in a consulting capacity, and I have personally met Patrick in passing several times over the course of the project but have not directly worked with him.

Patrick talked about the challenges of selling the Oracle E-Business Suite solution to company executives, employees, and their customers. The job was made more challenging after what was considered an unsuccessful rollout of a similar solution several years earlier.

Here are a few personal takeaways from the presentation.

Selling to Upper Management

To get their attention, you have to convince the executives and the board that they're either sitting on a gold mine... or about to fall off a cliff.

The Spinning Plates Example

The project management team sometimes felt like the guy trying to keep the spinning plates balanced, always jumping back and forth making sure when things appear that they're about to collapse, bringing them back on track.

A Single Dashboard Slide

Project statuses to the executives were kept under 5 slides. The main project dashboard slide was in fact one page, depicted very simply and in easy to understand graphs, at the expense of detail obviously. By doing so, it allowed management to drill deeper into each of the status areas by asking questions. This level of interactivity could not have been achieved going through a 50 slide project update.

Branding a Project

How can you get everyone to feel passionate and proud about their involvement in a project? The same way people pay ridiculous amounts for Starbucks coffee instead of the generic brand. It's partly about branding. It was not the rebranding of the "ATLAS" project, as it's called, that made the project successful, but it was one of the aspects of convincing the executives, board, employees, and customers that things this time were different... which they were.

Old Logo
New Logo

Overall, it was a very good presentation by a very competent presenter who clearly understands the challenges it takes to make the rollout of a global enterprise project successful. His examples were impressive and completely relatable, highlighting how project success is not always about technology, but about people as well.

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