We did something a little different with our cover story this issue. Most of our case studies have focused on a completed SAP project. With our Intel case study, we focus on what the company did in preparation for its SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management (SAP NetWeaver MDM) project. Intel doesn’t even expect to complete its SAP NetWeaver MDM implementation until the end of 2006.
So why did we do a case study now? The reason is simple: How you prepare for a project as big and important as Intel’s directly affects your chances for success. That is doubly true when the project involves the cleansing and consolidation of a company’s master data so that it can be centrally managed. The project affects nearly every aspect of Intel’s business.
Part of Intel’s challenge was to plan how to carry out the technical aspects. However, Intel realized that success ultimately hinged on how well the project solved the business issues of the data owners within the company. This meant that Intel’s MDM team had to get a handle on the scope of the company’s data quality issues, map out a plan to solve them, and seek buy-in from key managers. Then the team needed to define the protocols and means to keep all the vested parties informed during the implementation.
All this takes time — years in Intel’s case. It’s time well-spent when the stakes for a project are as high as they were for Intel. Carpenters have a saying: “Measure twice, cut once.” In the carpenter’s case, cutting too long means additional work. Too short, and the carpenter could be throwing out work and starting over. The analogy holds true for any large ERP project except that the consequences of measuring incorrectly are much more severe — millions of dollars lost, opportunities missed, careers damaged.
For Intel, the time and effort invested in preparation was well worth it because it allowed the MDM team to fully understand how the project would affect the business, identify likely trouble spots, and build confidence in the project among Intel’s managers. That’s a recipe for success.