TurtleSpice ERP! (Week 3)

  • Written By: David Clark
  • Published: July 24 2008

The story so far: Mike Chelonia, TurtleSpice’s comptroller, has been tasked to select an ERP system by his CFO. Swamped by phone calls from software vendors and consultants, and facing pressure from his VP to short-circuit the selection process, Mike faces some tough choices. When we asked you what you would do in Mike’s shoes, you voted to pursue the creation of an ERP selection team.

Don’t forget, you decide the fate of TurtleSpice’s ERP selection. Cast your vote at the bottom of this post!


When it comes to TurtleSpice office politics, Mike knows he’s not going to win a game of knifey-knifey with his VP—not with Wade Sharkey’s MA in Back-stabbing and PhD in Manipulation.

Mike’s best hope, he figures, is to lay out all the cards to the entire exec team and hope transparency and logic carry the day. Plan B: Update CV. Plan B, Part 2: Forge letters of reference.

Mike takes the plunge and starts preparing a brief for the exec team. [See notes toward Mike’s project team proposal]

The bottom line, as far as Mike can determine from his research: choosing the wrong ERP system could be a very, very expensive mistake—not only in terms of wasted financial resources, but also in terms of the ensuing organizational chaos.

He writes:

  • Analysis of any ERP system’s fit-to-purpose depends on a solid grasp of its capabilities with respect to our requirements.

  • Likewise, to negotiate an ERP purchase contract from a position of strength, we need a way to measure product performance against our actual requirements.

  • Accurate definition of our business requirements depends on input from all our stakeholders.

Admittedly, this involves substantial investment of time and intensive use of resources, but I see the formation of a project team as the approach that will best support our chances of a best-fit selection.

Mike sends his e-mail off to the exec team and heads out for a quick lunch. He knows he’ll have to deal with Sharkey sooner rather than later.

Besides, TurtleSpice projects are not famous for proceeding logically.


Sharkey doesn’t wait long. This time he makes a personal appearance in Mike’s office, which is a bad sign. Wade Sharkey usually only humps himself out of his $3,000 custom-made ergonomic Corinthian leather chair when he’s in the mood for an impromptu pound of flesh.

“I’m surprised at you, Mike,” says the VP, shaking his head in a what-am-I-going-to-do-with-you way. “I think you should know I’ll be making my purchase recommendation at the next exec meeting.”

He turns to leave, then stops. “Oh, by the way, you’re invited. We’ll be interested in knowing why you persist in wasting our time.”

Yeah, Plan B is looking better and better, thinks Mike.


The phone calls from software vendors just don’t stop. At first, Mike tries to listen politely.

But after four phone calls in one half-hour span, he starts getting a bit irritated.

“Look,” he finally says to a particularly obnoxious salesman. “We’ve already made our selection. There’s no point in pursuing this discussion.”

That, thinks Mike after he hangs up, was probably a dumb thing to do.


Mike arrives at the boardroom a little jittery from caffeine overload. To his dismay, Sharkey seems to be leading the meeting, with the TurtleSpice CEO sitting a little off to one side.

Mike’s CFO has the stunned look of someone who’s beginning to think micromanagement would be a very, very good idea. The CIO, on the other hand, is wearing her usual look of skin-deep patience.

“Thanks for joining us, Mike,” says Sharkey, his face utterly expressionless.

“We were just getting around to our new ERP system. I believe you’re aware we now have a viable vendor standing by, which obviates the contents of your brief, such as it is. I understand you haven’t had much time to develop an implementation plan, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on a time frame.”

The CEO seems not to be paying attention. He’s got his nose buried in a report that’s at least half an inch thick.

Then he shifts in his chair and clears his throat. “I dunno, Wade, let’s not rush into this.”

“Sometimes I think we’re growing a little too quickly for our own good. We’re beginning to lose sight of how, when, and why we do what we do. And I believe Mike is suggesting that this is a good time to start figuring it out. Mike, you didn’t mention anything in your brief about how we’re going to document that. I’d appreciate it if you’d make a recommendation in the next few days or so. If this is going to take as much time as you think it is, we’d better get started now.”

Sharkey doesn’t look pleased.

Mike leaves the meeting both relieved and concerned. When the VP gets overruled, you know you’re going to pay for it eventually. Which really means that it's going to be a while before Mike can afford to make a mistake.


So, if you were in Mike’s shoes, how would you recommend TurtleSpice handle its process documentation?


Voting is now closed for this episode. Find out what happened next!


Note: This scenario has been created for informational purposes only. Any resemblance to actual food and beverage companies and products is purely coincidental. Data and outcomes backed up by our expert analyst and project delivery teams, scenario created by our writing team.
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