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“If ERP” by Paul Saunders

by Debbie Wilson  |  April 5, 2019  |  1 Comment

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

–          Rudyard Kipling

When I was a child close family friends had Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ framed on their wall. I remember reading that poem many times when staying at their house during the Christmas holidays. Although over the years I can only remember the opening stanza, the main theme of the poem has remained with me.

In my role at Gartner I speak with hundreds of incredibly talented CIOs, CTOs and ERP leaders. Looking at the traits they have that make them successful leaders many of the elements of Kipling’s poem are there. So I have been inspired to create this (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) poem:



If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all doubt you and
When the systems integrator is demanding another signed PCR.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
For the vendor to deliver on their roadmap.
If you can withstand the mocking cries of ‘waterfall’ from the product teams
And the looks of pain from the UAT testers who state ‘oh, I thought it was going to do ……’

If you can talk with C-Suite leaders without mentioning technologies and vendors
Even when your CFO believes that your competitor’s ERP vendor is the one you should have selected.
If you can help develop a new organizational culture while helping others realize that change does not come from buying new software.
If you can show the value of data quality and standardisation of the system of record
While engaging and inspiring all to consider the art of the possible, differentiation and innovation.
If you can create an organization that focuses on the needs of the customer and not just the needs of the department.
If you can show that governance is about empowerment and not oversight and second guessing
As you challenge politics with logic and level headed facts.

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after go-live,
And convince stakeholders that the hypercare teams cannot stay around forever.

If you can understand just enough architecture and technology that you can influence your tech teams
To compromise architectural purity to meet deadlines and budgets.
If you can work 6 and 7 day weeks and withstand the withering stares of those who leave for the weekend at 4:55pm
And the performance rating of ‘satisfactory’ after a flawless go-live delivered three months after yet another corporate restructure.
If you can do all this while earning the respect of your team and not just your bosses
And still be there for your family when they need you….

You’ll be an ERP leader – my friend.

Additional Resources

Category: applications  erp  

Deborah R Wilson
Managing Vice President, ERP Strategy Team
12 years at Gartner
20 years IT industry

Deborah Wilson, a recovering Gartner research analyst, leads the Gartner ERP strategy research team. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on “If ERP” by Paul Saunders

  1. I think that’s the first ERP poem I’ve ever come across… hehe kudos.

    Delivering ERP (and we could argue any system) projects is often a thankless job. You have to fall in love with the process of implementation (and intrinsic motivation) vs the results or you won’t be an ‘ERP leader’ for very long.

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