Putting the Field Office First

We recognized that to successfully develop and implement an ERP system for our global network, it was critical to understand and be able to meet the needs of the personnel implementing our programs around the world — often in low-resource environments that are faced with frequent power outages, low bandwidth, and other logistical challenges. We sought to avoid the common pitfalls companies often make when rolling out major organizational reforms, such as starting with the home office shepherding the institutional change.

By putting the field offices first, we are turning the ERP transformation process on its head. Our system was designed with users from both field and home offices, piloted in our field offices, and will be continuously developed in the field before the final step of home office roll-out. We selected multiple pilot programs to influence the design of our ERP, based on varying structure, size, scale, and complexity of program needs. With each field office pilot program, we are learning, updating, renovating, and advancing our capabilities as a global organization.

We have already gone “live” in the Dominican Republic — our first of four pilots — and we are gearing up to test and employ increasingly advanced and complex features of the new system in Africa and the Middle East. As we continue to pilot the ERP in our field offices, the Digital Transformation team has taken valuable lessons from the initial pilot activities. In addition to continuously collaborating with the field office, we have become cognizant of a shift in roles and responsibilities and how we can most effectively support teams from the home office. It is our responsibility to identify a pathway for success for each of our field office members and we are developing a robust set of training materials and tools to be utilized by all staff as our programs transition to the new system.

Continued process improvement is cross-cutting and vital to the global development community. From Afghanistan to Zambia, our field offices will continue to drive our digital transformation. By meeting the needs of the field offices, we better serve our clients — streamlining otherwise burdensome processes and dedicating our time to increasing our development impact. Seamless collaboration and increasingly efficient project management will change the way we work, together.