Despite these obstacles, each ERP was functional within 90 days, a far cry from when large projects like these took over a year. "Our thought process is: If a project's duration exceeds a certain period, you start losing focus," says Khanna.
Key to his success is a team of 18 he put in place. "My internal team has core business skills. They helped me roll out projects very quickly. They understand business well and have over 10 years of experience," he says.
That understanding of business is critical to project success, says i-Lead's Kaufman, who also believes in business-IT teams. "Project management comes down to managing business expectations." But to manage them well CIOs need to regularly interact with the business. "All the involved stakeholders must feel a sense of ownership in the project. It helps accelerate delivery," he says.
At Anand Rathi Financial Services, IT and business work hand-in-hand, says Mukesh Mehta, VP and head-IT. It has been five years since the in-house IT team built Web-based CRMs for each of the firm's eight business units, including insurance, retail, HNI broking, mutual funds, and commodities. In early 2012, Anand Rathi's business team decided to take the next step: Give the managers of different units the ability to better monitor potential leads.
To do that, Mehta's team would need to complete three smaller projects. First, they needed to create a mechanism that enabled potential clients visiting Anand Rathi's website to leave behind key information. That data was then re-directed to an appropriate business' CRM. Each CRM then had to automatically produce daily reports with the number of potential clients and those that had been followed up on. Finally, each CRM was linked to each unit's HR portal. With three projects running across eight business units, Mehta was juggling 24 projects.
"It took us only two-and-a-half months to complete the customizations on all the CRMs, but we couldn't have done it without regular meetings with respective business teams," says Mehta.
IMPERATIVE: Minimize Scope
When Ola Cabs launched in 2010, it wanted to ensure, like most other businesses, that it could offer all the facilities a modern customer expected of a cab service. To CEO and CIO Bhavish Aggarwal that included a website, a contact center, and a mobile app, all of which should have been ready on day one.
Aggarwal is not alone. In a world that rewards one-stop shops, companies that offer end-to-end services, and greater customer choice, not having multiple offerings is seen a sign of weakness, or worse, of amateurishness. It's why customers, for instance, prefer the supermarket to the local kirana.
It's also why businesses tend to create software that can do everything at once.
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