PMI Southwest Ohio Chapter

Jonathan Gross

Speaker Profile


Jonathan Gross

LL.B., MBA | Managing Director at Pemeco | Lawyer | Enterprise Technology Strategist

Hershey Halloween Debacle

This true Halloween horror story has it all. A fairytale beginning, a protagonist that slowly loses control, and bloodbath of an ending. 

The company is Hershey’s and the year is 1996. Hershey’s had recently completed its strategic technology plan that was anchored on a $115 million program to radically transform every facet of its business. The transformation program included the implementation and integration of best-in-class SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, Manugistics supply chain management (SCM) software, and Seibel Systems customer relationship management (CRM) software. 

The initial project had a planned 48-month implementation schedule. However, Y2K was fast approaching. Hershey’s executives had become nervous that its legacy systems would implode at the clock’s strike of midnight. So, they mandated that the scope be delivered in 30 months, with go-live planned just before Halloween, the busiest of Hershey’s busy seasons. 

Just before Halloween, Hershey’s turned the key on its new systems. That’s when the nightmare became a horror story. Hershey’s was unable to ship its Halloween orders. Its quarterly profits took a 19 percent nosedive and its stock price dropped by 8 percent. Can you imagine being the responsible project manager? 

The scariest part of the story is that Hershey’s keeps a lot of bad company. According to a Harvard Business Review study of 1,500 large IT projects, one in six is a “Black Swan” catastrophic failure with an average budget overrun of $167 million and an average schedule overrun of 70%. 

The good news is that your project can be the stuff of sweet dreams, not Halloween nightmares. The first step is understanding that pervasive and transformative technology projects contain the hairiest of the hairy project complexities: organizational change management, implementation management methodologies, and project management disciplines.

Strategic & Business Management PDU: 1

Learning Objectives:

This hard-hitting session draws its lessons from Pemeco Consulting’s 43-year history of delivering successful ERP projects and from its Milestone Deliverables implementation management methodology. You will learn three keys to successfully implementing your complex digital transformation projects:

  1. The Emotional Curve: Without fail, every implementation project experiences a predictable Emotional Curve. You will learn to anticipate and manage each of the four predictable states to reduce the impacts of potential resistance and burnout.

  2. Governance and teams: An effective governance structure is critical. You will learn how to build high-performance teams comprised of a steering committee, project management, and a core team. You will also learn best-practices to break down the roles and responsibility assignments of internal personnel and consultants.

  3. Implementation management methodologies. Many methodologies still miss the mark on the fundamental required steps. You will learn the core of Milestone Deliverables, including the 13 phases, and the 14 key deliverables each strategically associated with a key project milestone. Each of these actionable and measurable “milestone deliverables” acts as a signpost that guides the project team along the path to success.

About Jonathan

Jon is Managing Director at Pemeco Consulting, a vendor-neutral consulting firm that specializes in ERP-driven digital transformations. Jon (also a lawyer) leads clients through the entire program lifecycle: technology strategy planning, system selection, contract negotiation, implementation, and ongoing optimization. More specifically, Jon helps Pemeco’s clients architect and implement Industry 4.0 solutions that integrate ERP with the edge. Jon is sought after for thought leadership and speaking engagements and has also acted as part-time systems analysis and design MBA professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University.