Re: Cheap IT Will Cost You
Everyone talks about 'getting closer to the business', and it's true - IT is no longer an otional component of any business activity. The problem we run into here is that sometimes the business end doesn't know how close it should be to IT. Mr. Muggleston mentioned they got a new board of directors during the project due to a rollout - constant corporate shakeup is also a factor. You might have buy-in from the right people, but then they leave, or priorities change and they're no longer the right people. Getting them invested in IT (#1) goes hand-in-hand with getting them to see where processes are broken (#2), so this is really important.
One interesting point is that Foodstuffs North is actually a cooperative of grocery stores that are independently run, with the corporate body only having so much say-so. To bring the huge variety of management styles and processes under one roof, Muggleston had to be careful not to slow anyone down or step on their independence. Instead, he presented their new SAP system as a means for each individual store to innovate quickly, and have access to the best information at all times to make their own decisions. That way of thinking is a great lesson to any CIO proposing a big upgrade at any kind of business.
Going in and training a bunch of non-IT people at that many retail locations in as many processes is definitely not something most CIOs have faced. I'd be interested to hear some testimonials from store managers about how they felt the process was handled, and some data about how things have changed for Foodstuffs North stores since then. I suspect the proof will be in the pudding when it comes to validating all the groundwork investment that Mr. Muggleston did.