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Our company has some 1200 employees in 12 locations on 3 continents. The departments that provide services (finance, procurement, IT, HR and ERP) for all locations are centralized. I work in the ERP department and the tasks we do are, among others, business analysts, project managers, sytem administrators, and the (ERP-)Helpdesk.

We have a critical role in the company, but are unknown to some managers and most team leaders, let alone other employees. Because of that, we don't get called upon for important projects, or get involved late.

Idea

I had the idea to create a tri-fold leaflet describing who we are and what we do for the company. It would outline how we can help other departments and that they can openly approach us with any issues / ideas they have. It could be available on the intranet and be given to all new employees on their first day. To also reach current employees, I'd hand it out to those visiting from other locations.

Other means of communication aren't either pervasive enough (our intranet resembles the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone) or not viable due to company policy (email newsletter).

Our COO is open-minded and doesn't reject the idea.

Questions

  • Are there any general pitfalls or traps when doing this?
  • What would be alternative strategies to explain what our team does and how we can help solving business problems?

PS: Sorry, but I couldn't think of any other tags to assign...

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I think that your goal is valuable. Backoffice teams aren't necessarily visible and if your customers don't know about you then, of course, they aren't going to include you in future projects. So, yes, you need some type of internal "marketing."

Although a leaflet is nice, paper items tend to get ignored by most folks along with the massive packet of material that HR dumps on new hires. I like Blankip's answer about actually meeting with leads in various departments, but I suspect that you're already doing this at some level.

The best way to market your team is regular contact with the internal customers. I have seen this done in different ways (in order of increasing intensity and effectiveness):

  • Maintain "a presence" on the corporate intranet webpage-- on the main page. Everyone should be able to find your webpage without searching without bookmarking.

  • Email a newsletter regularly to key contacts who actually use your services. This should be a really well-written newsletter showing faces and detailing ongoing projects, new hires, and new or existing services provided by your team. Include articles with "power-tips" or FAQ's for your tools.

  • Host an annual workshop or "summit". Make it a half/full day event for all users. Provide training sessions for new tools/services. Serve refreshments. Get to know faces and names of your customer base. By customer base I don't just mean the suits who "formally" make the decisions, I mean the people that actually do work using your stuff. These are often the people that are going to come up with ideas for new projects, they're also the ones who are going to get promoted into decision-making positions in the future.

  • Provide regular training/workshops to users. ERP's are really complicated (sometimes awful) things and some people can get really effective at using them. Others remain bewildered forever. If you have regular workshops, it gives users a chance to interact with the team. Power users get even better, newbies learn the ropes. If the workshops are really good, they become a valuable marketing tool for your team.

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  • There seems to be quite a lot of cost here. Didn't know that the ERP team had a 100K communications budget :)
    – blankip
    May 1 '15 at 19:48
  • @blankip, ERP's aren't cheap, but an annual summit is not a 100K expense, not even close. Regular workshops and training should be done anyway, whether these need a 100K budget and whether that falls into "communications" is another question. How much should you spend, then?
    – teego1967
    May 1 '15 at 20:12
  • Well I don't know but it is a big leap from printing out leaflets (couple hundred dollars) and what you suggest.
    – blankip
    May 1 '15 at 20:34
  • The "summit" could done in tandem with some other company event. This way travel and hosting costs could be shared.
    – user8365
    May 2 '15 at 13:17
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We have an ERP group at my company too. 5 continents and almost 100K employees. I think almost everyone knows who they are but I don't think they understand what value they bring. I work closely with the ERP group because I am a tech lead for a sector of the company.

When I think ERP I think of these things:

  • large projects
  • projects that span multiple groups
  • things that can use cross group efficiencies

I would honestly laugh if I got a leaflet from our ERP team. First that is a rather antiquated way of communication and rather static. It seems that using an internal website would be much more appropriate.

Even having an internal website wouldn't be the answer but it is a step (not the first) in letting people in your company know who you are. If I am going to trust the ERP team to help my part of the business they have to know exactly what I need. They have to have a way to make what I do more efficient.

If you want your group to succeed you need to personally meet with the heads/leads of each part of the business. You need to focus on a couple of groups. These could be the most important groups or the ones with the most problems. You need to really learn what they do and how to help them do it better.

If you succeed with these groups others will be knocking down your door. What manager/director/VP doesn't want "free" help and to take risk out of their domain? As a lead in a sector why do I want to waste my time coming to you? Because you sent me a leaflet? No. You would need to talk with our management and propose solutions that make sense.

I suggest working with your COO to determine the first groups that you contact personally.

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    How you dispise your internal ERP team isn't relevant for the answer, but thank you anyway.
    – Jan
    May 1 '15 at 19:03
  • Yes but this is how most people think about their ERP teams. Obviously you might be in the same situation.
    – blankip
    May 1 '15 at 19:07
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    Building relationships with people in the other groups I think is key. One thing our teams do is ghost with people in other areas. Not only do you get to meet folks personally, you get a better understanding of what everyone else does. What you really want is for someone to say "hey as anyone talked to Jan about this? " in a project meeting or to think to copy you on an email chain. The best way to make that happen is for them to know someone in your group.
    – ColleenV
    May 2 '15 at 4:10

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