GP Controller Series: The Value of an Internal Champion

I’ve been involved in countless Microsoft Dynamics GP implementations over the years and have come to realize that there is one little-recognized key to both a successful implementation and long-term usage. That key is a champion.

By champion, I don’t necessarily mean a key executive sponsor, though without that you’ll probably fail. I’m not referring to a strong administrator or a project manager, though they are important, too. For me, a true champion is a user who embraces the system and becomes the go-to person internally for Dynamics GP.

The ideal champion in my experience is a mid-level accounting person with a strong technology background. Occasionally it’s a DBA with a passion for business. In a few lucky organizations, it’s someone with prior GP experience. Generally, the best way to find the champion is to walk into a business running GP and ask who writes GP macros–very quickly, you’ll find the champion.

A champion is important because this individual finds ways to make the system work within a particular company’s unique culture. He or she can talk to support with a clear idea of the problem and apply the solution. The champion can help users who don’t embrace the system work through issues.

Champions figure out little things, like how macros work, to make user’s lives easier. Finally, a champion reduces the involvement of partner organizations. Not only does this save money, but it actually improves relationships with partners. Being called out for an hour to deal with a stuck check back isn’t efficient for most partners and calling for outside help always takes longer than walking down the hall with a question.

You don’t hear about champions during project kickoff meetings. Partners talk about project sponsors, the importance of training, the schedule and the team members, but no champions. Perhaps it’s because champions are often born during an implementation and it can be tough to identify one beforehand. That’s because a champion is more about attitude than aptitude. It’s the embracing of the system that makes the difference.

The motivation behind that embrace can vary wildly. For some, it’s a chance to be seen making a difference in an organization. For others, it’s simply about being the person who got the job done, and for some, it may simply be old-fashioned resume’ building. Regardless of the motivation, champions are an extremely valuable part of a company’s GP infrastructure that often goes unrecognized. It’s tough to replace a champion and to truly replace one often requires a lot more money than companies think.

When I begin an implementation, I usually don’t know who will become a GP champion. I do know that the more quickly I find this person,  the smoother the implementation will go.

Links to all the posts in this series can be found at http://mpolino.com/gp/gp-controller-series-index/

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