Naked CIO: Post-merger blues - seeing red over someone else's duff IT project

It's not my way but it is my problem...

>Big IT projects such as this one are destined to fail and it is neither my project nor my strategic choice" title=">Big IT projects such as this one are destined to fail and it is neither my project nor my strategic choice" height="348px" width="300px" />

Big IT projects such as this one are destined to fail and it is neither my project nor my strategic choicePhoto: Shutterstock

After a recent merger, the Naked CIO finds himself having to champion a project he would rather have scrapped.

My company just went through a merger. For the time being I am unscathed, although the dust still needs to settle and there is still a great deal of work to do.

The process will generate much Naked CIO fodder, and future commentaries will be full of paragraphs on the quagmire that exists in the new management structure and the jungle of obstacles that have sprung up in the course of bringing the two companies together.

The company we merged with has been implementing an ERP system for some time. There is no surprise that the project is both overdue - by over a year - and over budget.

I suppose its success and the increased complexity of migrating my company into it is my problem. I have inherited these kinds of challenges before where someone has oversold system capability and undercalculated the complexity of this type of installation. Sometimes it is best to put on the brakes or even abandon a project such as this one.

However, that option unfortunately will not be palatable to the organisation. The directive is to make it work. Besides the frustration of my performance being evaluated on the misguided decisions of others, I also think this is a case of the captain going down with the ship. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

It is neither my project nor my strategic choice. Those who know me, or indeed who read my articles, know that big projects such as these are something I believe are destined to fail.

They fail not because of core functionality but due to the inability of business and IT to articulate the many complex processes in such a way to configure them properly on such a grand scale.

There is no singular deliverable but rather a multitude of complex critical processes that have to be managed. In addition, there is no ability to deconstruct processes that do not make sense, which means inevitably you will embed bad practice and processes in the hard wires of the new system, making it unresponsive to future change.

I suppose rather than complain here I should be ranting to my executives. But I know when a fight can't be won.

Reasonable expectations and inherent risks

I will try to simplify the deliverable discreetly and set expectations as to what is reasonable to achieve. I'll also highlight the inherent risks but at this point that is all I can do. A feeling of helplessness perhaps but not hopelessness.

There are a lot of things about this merger that didn't go as I expected. But I still have my job and I do have the opportunity to be part of an exciting stage in our organisation's evolution, including preaching innovation and best practice.

However, from the IT perspective, it isn't what I would have done nor how I would have gone about it. Saying that makes me feel better. No doubt we have all occasionally wanted to say that very thing.

Now for the long and winding road forward. No doubt many articles will chronicle the challenges and opportunities of this very interesting experience. Stay tuned. The Naked CIO is back.