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Implementing Outsourcing And an ERP at The Same Time??!!! - 5 Survival Tips From McGraw-Hill

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A company of 17,500 people, McGraw-Hill decided that outsourcing was essential to its future. At that same point in their evolution, they realized they needed to move from Lawson to Oracle. Rather than address these epic tasks one at a time, McGraw decided to implement both concurrently. This article touches on a number of aspects of how they did it, and shares some of the results.

1) Be connected or, even better- be ONE: McGraw-Hill runs a Global Business Services organization. Inevitably with this model comes an examination of what can be outsourced, and which technology platform will best support an organization's growth needs.  Outsourcing, GBS, and ERPs are all so intrinsically linked, it helps that the strategic owners for these programs are 100% aligned. Actually – it helps if all owners of these business areas are the same person. Then you can be sure the strategic direction is going to be tight. At McGraw-Hill, Global Real Estate, GBS and ERP all report into Michelle Ferguson, Senior Vice President - Global Workplace Strategies and Services. Sometimes the scale of an organization won’t allow for one person to own all three business areas, but for those two or three people to think like a single person and “share a brain” will greatly help the concurrent implementation of outsourcing and ERP.

2) Keep the train running on time: McGraw-Hill worked within an ambitious time table regarding selecting its BPO and moving into live project status. On December 23rd, the tender process began, and the RFP was issued. On June 1st the following year, the contract was signed, and one month later, on July 1st, the project was in Go Live.  Michelle speaks of how business-critical it is to “keep the train running on time.” This means your Project Managers need to be a certain “type” – not always Mr. or Ms. Popular, they need to be result-oriented people who know how to drive behaviors, push things through the pipe, and get jobs done. They might cause a little frustration, and be unpopular during the project, but once the project is in the “operational” phase, they’ll most likely find themselves adored.

3) Refrain from blaming: When moving to an ambitious time line and working on two huge enterprise-wide projects, Ferguson says, “you’re going to end up breaking some furniture.” So much heavy lifting in such a compressed period of time – It’s inevitable there will be some knocks. Recognize this upfront, and understand the culture of the project. Keep the end-goal in mind, and when mistakes happen, learn from them but refrain, as much as possible, from blaming.

4) Use consultants. They are expert in these areas, and have done what you’re doing (perhaps for the first time) many times before. However, recognize that YOU own the outcome. Therefore run the project according to this philosophy, and make sure your management of consultants is tight, communication is as-required by you, you have the visibility you need, and you know enough about the project to report it internally.

5) Avoid resource stretch: We all have a day job, and then we’re handed a project on top. This is normal, and most of the time great for the business, and an exciting learning opportunity for the individual. However, it can go too far. Appreciate that people have their day jobs and have targets to meet, so having them run a large project on top of this will end up with something cracking – them, their day job, or the project. You can expect team members to work weekends and nights up to a point, but then fatigue and misery can kick in, and your unsustainable model will implode. Always check in with the team members’ workloads, making sure they are being rewarded with an afternoon off to re-charge, or an evening break.

The results have been very encouraging so far. McGraw-Hill outsourced to Genpact, and maintained 100% productivity during the switch. They have since delivered 41% of savings back to the business.

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