Legacy ERP systems consolidation and modernization efforts can often reveal a great deal about the ways and means of program management excellence.
Take Royal Vopak — the world’s leading provider of tank storage systems. The company embarked on a program to modernize its global finance systems to significantly strengthen how it generates business value and insights, and exert stricter operational controls. Vopak was also looking to optimize the cost of business finance and move toward a global shared services center. To move forward, the company made a strategic decision to hire us to implement an Oracle Cloud single finance and procurement ERP environment.
Just as we were getting into the most critical phase of the project — with imminent go-lives in the Netherlands and Belgium (and post user acceptance testing in Australia and system integration testing in Singapore) — the COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing sudden unforeseen disruption.
The global lockdowns that ensued tested our ability to effectively deliver projects and programs worldwide, particularly those for which seamless global mobility sat at the very heart of delivery strategy. Some projects and programs adapted quickly and effectively — by switching to remote working — while others were substantially delayed or cancelled.
The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of global programs and surfaced multidimensional questions:
- Is there time to re-plan for the new situation as cut-overs in the Netherlands and Belgium are already inflight?
- How do we replicate an enhanced collaboration typical of a co-located environment in a virtual setup?
- How do we manage parallel execution of different phases of the project in four different countries all impacted by the pandemic?
- How do we maintain high morale of the project team and users, both internal and external?
- How do we work with suppliers and customers to address shared project challenges?
- How do we rapidly adapt the program governance and implementation approach to achieve delivery continuity?
A reactive/proactive action plan
The rapid and large-scale ban on travel caused significant disruption to ongoing projects that relied heavily on global mobility. This requirement demanded immediate changes to how the program was set up. The need to reset processes to govern delivery for projects especially in regional centers in Asia required significant changes to ways of working to remain effective. A shift in the level of collaboration and governance was needed.
We quickly transitioned to Google Hangouts, operated by experts in process towers. Moreover, we measured goals with “beginning of play/end of play” scheduled daily reviews for tracking. These daily reviews ensured seamless transition of critical tasks from one geography to another across different time zones.