Let’s face it, consultants love complexity. As relentless problem solvers, we’re wired to design solutions that address all the nuances of a critical business issue. When technology is part of the solution, it’s even more tempting to address as many problems as possible. After all, systems can be configured, coded and integrated with one another in countless ways. Given enough time, resources and money, it really is possible to build just about anything. The problem with solving everything is that it can create more complexity than people can digest, resulting in confusion and frustration. The best solutions are the ones that ignore the noise, and focus on the essence of the change.

I’ve been a part of one of the most successful change projects, a global ERP consolidation effort. The crux of the change was standardizing business processes (finance, procurement, HR, etc.)… and making sure they stayed standard. The ability to sustain the new processes, and not let them drift due to local preferences, really saved money for the company. Understanding the essence of that, allowed us to apply our resources where they were needed. Process design and configuration was important, but we spent just as much time engaging stakeholders in building a lightweight governance structure to maintain the processes.

The governance structure included named process owners at both the global and regional levels; regular meetings to discuss emerging needs (such as due to new regulations or changing business climate); and a way to prioritize and roll out process changes. The cost of this additional governance remains far below the annual benefits still being realized from maintaining standard processes.

The experience from that project is why we typically recommend that you not “go for broke” in other technology implementations, such as SharePoint. Instead of building a broad adoption plan that attempts to deploy several capabilities, think about the heart of your business case. What is the compelling story behind the implementation? Is it standardizing your document management processes because staff members frequently move between business units? Is it to centralize corporate knowledge and make it easier to find via enterprise search? Whatever your business case, use it to help focus your efforts, reinforce the reasons for change, and keep it simple to avoid overwhelming your stakeholders.