Caution: Teams under construction

What happened when we merged 3 ERP consulting teams into 1

What happens when you realize your business model is no longer working? How do you make the decision to consciously disrupt your workflow, to tear down and rebuild the way your company does business? Boyer & Associates is just coming out of such a transition period. We’d like to share with you what it looked like for us.

Three years ago our company’s organizational structure looked very different than it does today. We supported the same number of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions that we do now, but our approach was much more siloed.

We had three distinct teams, each supporting a unique Microsoft ERP solution. Each team was responsible for implementations and other projects related to their supported product. The model worked well as long as each team had a relatively similar amount of work.

Then the landscape of ERP shifted. Microsoft dove head-on into the world of cloud software, investing heavily in a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and encouraging reseller partners like Boyer to take the dive with them. We did.

Little changed that first year. We began offering the new cloud ERP product, but interest was marginal and most prospects still chose a varied selection of our on-premise offerings.

Microsoft steadily continued to invest more into its new Dynamics 365 family of cloud solutions until it could no longer be ignored. Interest quickly picked up speed over the second year as Microsoft massively outspent competing cloud solutions that had been established for years.

Suddenly we had a disconnect. Our team members who were implementing the cloud version of Dynamics 365 Business Central found themselves quickly inundated with more work than they could handle. Meanwhile, team members supporting our on-premise solutions struggled to stay busy. We still had several on-premise projects but not as many as before as some companies and in some cases it seemed entire industries transitioned to the cloud. Incoming projects could no longer be distributed evenly based on a consultant’s expert knowledge of a specific product.

Now, with all of our ERP consultants working together toward the same goals instead of competing for work, we can better spot and fix issues, and we can do a better job of helping you implement the best ERP solution from start to finish.

We suggested ERP consultants cross-train but did not make it mandatory so there was little effect. Consultants who knew the cloud product were perhaps too busy to cross-train a coworker or didn’t want to risk losing their own workload by sharing their skills. Consultants for the legacy products appeared hesitant to venture into unknown territory and risk being relegated to amateur status on the new product.

The more we pondered our dilemma and looked into our business processes, the more we realized a larger issue was at the crux of the problem: We had unwittingly fostered an environment of competition rather than teamwork.

We rewarded one person for billing the most hours while ignoring another who worked just as hard on other needed projects. Our staff became protective of their workload, sometimes refusing to admit when they were overwhelmed for fear they would wind up with too little work later. Team members were not sharing knowledge, they were not collaborating, and they were frankly, not exhibiting the joy of work we want them to have.

We certainly didn’t want to lose good consultants just because technology was changing. We wanted to change with that technology, and we wanted to bring our whole team with us, but how?

We decided a reorganization was necessary. We certainly did not undergo this transition without some heartache. Rocking the boat leads to some awkward situations. Restructuring three teams into one team meant changes in job roles. That naturally created some tension and led to good people leaving.

Slowly, our team adjusted. We are beginning to see the benefits of one team versus three. We’re seeing more collaboration, more mentoring. Employees are sharing more knowledge with each other. Staff members are growing their skill sets, making each person more valuable and our team more cohesive.

When Microsoft introduced cloud integration options into its on-premise solutions, team members familiar with the cloud technology quickly stepped in to bring the rest of the staff up to speed. Consultants who support our on-premise products are better educated on the cloud and able to help clients determine if and when a transition makes sense. Clients interested in hosting their on-premise solution in Azure or integrating other cloud solutions with their on-premise financial management system now have consultants who can offer knowledgeable assistance.

As we work together more closely, we’ve noticed that team members are more amiable with each other. It’s more fun to come to work when you’re solving the same problems rather than competing with a coworker. We think of it like tennis: Singles is all about competition whereas doubles tennis allows you to work with a teammate to solve the problem together. That’s what we’re doing now.

With employees sharing their input with each other and working toward the same goals, we can better spot and fix issues with our process. We can improve our business as well as our clients’ businesses. We can do a better job of helping you implement the best ERP solution from start to finish. Whether you need an on-premise solution, a cloud product or a mix of the two, we can help you streamline your entire business operations in the way that best meets your needs.

Are we done transitioning? Certainly not. Have we passed all the hurdles? Again, likely not. However, we do believe we’ve identified and eliminated one significant hurdle, and we’re seeing promising results of merging three teams into one. Thank you for being patient with us through this transition as we work together to serve you better!