Beavis and Butt-Head Do ERP Implementations

Written By: Brian Potts
Date: July 12, 2019

Beavis and Butt-Head, America’s favorite delinquents, are all grown up now and seem to have found their way into the technology workforce. For anyone unfamiliar with these two, they are the 1990s MTV-era definition of anti-social behavior and generally what not to do.

For just a minute, try to imagine an ERP implementation led by these degenerates. You would likely find random acts of stupidity, lack of communication, lack of planning, greed, selfishness and general ignorance destroying projects.

Now take a look at some of the recent technology failures (the SAP failure at Lidl, the Hertz vs. Accenture lawsuit, Revlon’s SAP implementation disaster, Haribo’s ERP failure, and others) and you will find some striking commonalities.

So, what can we learn from our two friends? We can learn how NOT to do ERP implementations:

Lesson 1: Don’t put unqualified resources in significant ERP project roles

We find Beavis and Butt-Head’s counterparts on a daily basis, in IT departments, consulting firms, software companies and even on executive teams. With newer software like SAP S/4HANA, Oracle ERP Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 proliferating the market, knowledgeable resources are hard to find. Even the big systems integrators like Deloitte, Accenture, and Capgemini are struggling to find and train good experts.

Keep in mind it’s not their fault, they are who they are, but it’s our responsibility as leaders not to put them in positions they can’t handle. The important thing is to recognize the knowledge gaps and address those deficiencies.

Lesson 2: Don’t go cheap on your ERP implementation

Just ask their neighbor, Tom Anderson, who continues to hire Beavis and Butt-Head to run errands and help with yard work as they are “low cost.” It never worked out for Tom and hiring low-cost resources will rarely work to your benefit on an ERP implementation. What does happen is you end up having to pay for clean-up, remediation, along with the cost of finally doing it right.

Lesson 3: Don’t act without proper ERP implementation planning

Like Beavis trying to crawl through a pipe that was far too small and getting stuck, trying to back out of a wrong move with an ERP technology implementation is expensive and often embarrassing. Look at the recent tech failures listed above; this type of publicity is not good for morale or stock prices.

Before selecting a software and before jumping blindly into an implementation, understand the impacts of what you are about to do and create a readiness plan in advance. Digital transformation readiness should be one of the most important components of your initiative.

Lesson 4: Don’t take guidance from the wrong people

Some may think that Todd from the show may be cool with his muscle car and bullying mentality, but he is not exactly a role model in most respects. Similar to asking your ERP systems integrator for guidance on managing organizational change, just because someone claims expertise doesn’t mean they have it. Does anyone remember what happened when Butt-Head claimed to know how to use a chainsaw?

Lesson 5: Don’t forget an ERP risk mitigation plan

Like it or not, a version of Beavis or Butt-Head will at some point surface during your implementation. Data may be lost, testing results may be distorted, ill decisions will be made and some degree of turmoil will occur. Issues will arise whether or not Beavis is assigned as your PM and you need to be ready for it. As part of the planning and on-going quality assurance, integrate a risk modeling and mitigation approach.

Conclusion: ERP implementation resources need to be managed to strengths and weaknesses

Anyone who has recently completed or is in the middle of an ERP implementation can likely draw some parallels here. We need to keep in mind that Mike Judge did not create “Beavis and Butt-Head” out of pure fantasy and that replicas of these individuals grace our world today. And they are not just confined to Burger World. These individuals are a critical part of our transformations and do bring value, but they just need to be managed correctly.

Plus, when your new ERP software is live, you may want to ask them to help plan the party.

Brian Potts

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