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Synaesthesia in ERP Transformation

I have never paid much attention to my Object Personification Synaesthesia (OP) at work. Before today, I thought my OP was a bit useless. However, an experience at work today made me re-assess my judgement.

I work as an IT ERP architect. My company is going through an ERP transformation. Due to the risks and cost constraints, we are looking at what ERP capabilities can be delivered first, and what can wait.

This morning, I bumped into the lead of the Risk Management team. He was telling me and another colleague how much our business needed a risk management solution, but it didn’t seem that we would be able to deliver it for a long time now. I was in a relaxing mood making my green tea.

‘But you are the cousin.’ I said without thinking properly.
‘What do you mean? I am the cousin of what?’ He enquired with a confused expression.

Gosh, that’s going to be challenging. Trying not to feel too embarrassed, I explained to him that Risk Management was the cousin of Finance. Lucky he got quite interested, and asked me what that had to do with our discussion.

Feeling more encouraged by his curiosity, I continued my explanation. ‘When we have limited funds, the first thing we need to do is to move parents and children into the new house as they depend on each other. Cousins can move in later.” In my mind, cousins like Risk Management can camp in the back yard when the house is being built.

I perceive most ERP functions in personalities. I group them into one extended family plus some casual relationships.

Finance: a parent who provides for his children, generous and caring, but a bit too serious. He lacks personality and has no great humour.

Supply Chain: a child of Finance, tall and slim. He looks a bit posh, but can have rough bits. The whole supply chain is a lengthy process, some parts are easier to implement than others.

Asset Management: a step child of Finance, fat and needy. He is high maintenance.

Projects: the centre of attention, Finance’s favourite son. He is everywhere, is a friend of everyone in the family, and is always busy. All enterprise functions link with projects especially in a project intense company like mine.

Risk Management: a cousin of Finance. He is quite fussy.

HSE (Health, Safety and Environment): the brother of Risk Management, very restrict, but has soft spots.

Strategy Management, Planning and Consolidation are all grandparents. They sit above Finance. I see Statutory Reporting as the eldest person in the family like a dinasour.

Joint Ventures are the lovers of Finance. They have short or long term affair with Finance. So the rule is always allow flexibility, don’t tie them down too much as they can break up the relationship.

I have to say this system allows me to see relationship between each ERP function quite easily, and understand what need to go together, what can come in later if the family moves into a new house, i.e., a new platform. The degree of a relationship reflects a level of system integration required if they don’t live in the same house.

If the word “Migration” is used within the system migration context, I sometimes see a group of refugees rushing onto a boat. Who get on first? The family who have money. It’s costly and risky, but once they get to their destination, they will have a safer place and a better life. That’s how I perceive risks, tradeoffs and benefits.

“Transformation” to me is like moving from a run down house to a mansion. The whole extended family are keen to move to the mansion. But sometimes I feel if everyone moves in to one big house, even though the cost can be shared, everyone starts to fight. If a mansion has a plumbing problem, it costs far more to fix. The IT platform story is forever challenging.

I also have a mental map in my head about General Ledger and sub ledgers such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Cost Management. They sit at a round table in my mind with GL as the head sitting at the top, AP on my left, AR on my right and Cost Management at the bottom.

I often find my children’s personification perception entertaining. Now I know that I have been using Object Personification Synaesthesia in my professional career for years without me realising. I can definitely appreciate it as quite often, all what I need to do is to apply my common sense to foresee how things will play out.

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