Why Microsoft Dynamics ERP Projects Require Situational Leadership

Situational Leaders in Microsoft Dynamics ERP Projects

My last note was on the stages of an implementation project and what each stage entails for the organization. Today we’ll be looking at how leadership flows through those various stages of an ERP and CRM implementation.

Any project (including a full Microsoft Dynamics ERP implementation) drives change, how the change is handled will ultimately determine if the Microsoft Dynamics ERP project is successful.

At Encore Business Solutions, it’s our understanding we need to assume this leadership. With the client’s team and client’s success being our first priorities – we need to guide the implementation through its various stages.

At the same time, not all organizations are created equal and it’s critical that our approach is adapted and tailored to the needs of the client. This is why we need situational leadership.

It’s important to adjust the leadership approach as the project progresses, recognizing that the underlying business is changing and the knowledge of the client is increasing.

In more technical terms, as a project leader, the approach can be best described by looking at the “Situational Leadership” model (see an article here for more information

But – science aside, here is a short summary. In summary, leadership styles can be broadly grouped in four areas:

  • Telling – this is simply a direct instruction based on the knowledge we already have about the project  (usually corresponds to Analysis and Design phases)
  • Selling – not only requesting to do something but also explaining the reasons behind it (usually corresponds to Design and Development phases) – it answers the why question
  • Participating – brainstorm ideas and lead decision making in a group (usually corresponds to Development and Deployment phases)
  • Delegating – turning over the decision and the execution to the team, providing support as needed, and removing obstacles along the way (usually corresponds to Support phase)


 Situational Leadership with Microsoft Dynamics


I’ll look at a recent Microsoft Dynamics ERP implementation we did for a construction services company. In that case, as we often do, we went through all four of those “leadership styles” as the solution was rolled out.


Starting Off in the “Telling Stage” of the Microsoft Dynamics ERP Implementation

After the sale was completed, we engaged the client’s finance team to fulfill our mandate, which was to streamline the existing business processes in such a way that increasing transaction volumes could be handled by the team – without creating additional stresses. This is how we approached it:

  • Because this organization was new to the Microsoft Dynamics ERP platform (and ERP systems as such), we knew up-front that their underlying process would have to be changed.
  • During the Analysis and Design phases we approached the implementation with a “telling leadership approach” – delivering new proposed workflows for the new streamlined processes; all coming from the initial detailed requirements gathered and known industry best practices.
  • After this, we gave the opportunity for the client’s team to review the suggested business process improvements.
  • At first, there was some resistance to the proposal, but this to us was actually a positive sign, since at that point the client had built enough knowledge of what the proposed solution would look like and what Microsoft Dynamics ERP would be capable off that they could provide us feedback.

With both sides coming to a deeper understanding and knowledge of the proposed solution and the relationship having strengthened, we were able to move on to the next step.


Moving to a Selling Style of Leadership in the Microsoft Dynamics ERP Implementation

As the client’s team got to know their Microsoft Dynamics ERP better – and the client got more acquainted to our team and our proposed solution – we shifted our style more to a “selling” style of leadership. This is what it looked like:

  • This coincided with Design and Development phases and allowed us to work with the client in flushing out / “selling” what the future process would be like and making adjustments to the proposed solution as it was being built.
  • Later, as we were shifting from Development to Deployment, our Microsoft Dynamics ERP implementation team and our client’s team were much more comfortable with each other and we gained a greater ability to share ideas – “selling an idea to each other” was becoming much easier.
  • The client’s team also had stronger confidence in the system and the workflow because they had the opportunity to participate so much of the design process.


Shifting Again to a Participating Style of Leadership in our Microsoft Dynamics ERP Implementation

This facilitated us shifting our leadership style yet again to a more “participating” style of leadership, as the client was getting more and more comfortable with the solution and starting to take ownership of it. 

It was in that leadership style that we went live on the new Microsoft Dynamics ERP system. Like in most cases, our consultants were available on site to support the first workflows and business process cycles. During this phase: 

  • Go live of any Microsoft Dynamics ERP or CRM system can be perceived as very stressful at times – but usually it’s a bit of a non-event. We ensured that as the first transactions were being entered our team was on site and that the client’s team felt comfortable with what they were doing.
  • As the first month on the Microsoft Dynamics ERP system was coming to an end, our support requirements began to diminish – as we had expected.
  • The client took ownership of their Microsoft Dynamics ERP system and embraced the new process and became comfortable running on them on their own.


Shifting into a Delegating Leadership Style for the End of the Microsoft Dynamics ERP Implementation

Thus – at this point we shifted into “support phase” taking more of a “delegating leadership style” and being looked at as more long term trusted advisor rather than the “executor” for the solution.

To complete the story – this site has been live for over one year now on their Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution, and yes, they indeed have been able to achieve their goal of doing more with the same resources.

But my point and conclusion is this – that going through all “five phases of a project management methodology” for a Microsoft Dynamics ERP implementation requires more than following a checklist.

At Encore, it’s important to us that we ensure that the service we provide throughout the project is tailored to where the client is at. That includes tailoring our leadership style.

How Do You Adapt Your Leadership Style?

There is not one leadership style that is better than the others. The critical aspect is that different situations require different leadership styles.

Leadership trainers N2Growth says this:

“Great leaders are fluid and flexible in their approach. They understand the power of, and necessity for contextual leadership. “My way or the highway” leadership styles don’t play well in today’s world and will result in a fractured culture, and ultimately a non-productive organization. Only those leaders who can quickly recognize and adapt their methods to the situation at hand will be successful over the long haul.”

So this leads us to these questions:

  • How are you adapting your leadership styles in managing your people?
  • What leadership styles does your organization encourage – does it match your people?
  • How are you going to improve the leadership styles you’re not currently strong in?
  • If you’re about to implement a ERP or CRM system – have you considered how your partner approaches leadership in the implementation cycle? How do you intend to manage change?

Stay tuned – next time we’ll discuss how we came to decide on our new business intelligence offering.

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