We have seen a recent rush of requests for ERP implementation assessment and project recovery. Despite vendors’ use of accelerators and ERP software best practices, ERP implementations are becoming more and more difficult.
Reasons for this include the complexity of system capabilities, the number of integrations needed as well as an absolute onslaught of data. Unfortunately, ERP implementation plans, for the most part, have not kept up with the changing times and are geared towards the implementation of siloed, on-premise technology and simple data structure.
The same implementation best practices that we have been writing about for decades still maintain their worth, however the prioritization of what is most important for realizing a successful digital transformation is changing.
Following are 4 critical pillars that need to be in place when implementing enterprise technology. Without any one of these items your project will fail:
To clarify, we are not talking about “project management.” You still need internal and external ERP project managers to manage the technology implementation itself, but you need an overall program manager to ensure all moving pieces align at the end.
You will have the various vendors managing their specific technology, but the program manager will make sure the integrations are tested, that the overall flow of data is sound and secure and that conflicts across people, processes or technology are mitigated. The skill set needed for this is more than basic project management and needs to include a technology background as well as an appreciation for change management. Ultimately, the program manager is responsible for ensuring project success.
Organizational Change Management (OCM)
If you’re tired of hearing about the need for OCM…. Good! Despite every consulting firm on the planet talking and writing about the importance of OCM for well over a decade, organizations and most ERP consultants still fail to properly manage the people side of change. Any ERP transformation or digital transformation will require people to change, and while people may want to change and they may agree to change, they will not change without help. It’s human nature and cannot be overlooked.
Years ago, data was easy enough to manage. You simply needed to determine what level of historical data to pull over, clean it up and transfer. Nowadays, it is far more complex with multiple streams of data, complexity of standardization across systems, determining where data sits and the security needed. And as far as the on-going management of data, long gone are the days where we measure data in GB. Hire an expert.
If you don’t standardize and document your processes, there is no way to program your future state into your system. If your plan is to use “out-of-the-box” best practices and let the software drive your business, think again.
This is especially true in the case of best-of-breed ERP or multiple systems that will offer too many possibilities to work through. Even in the case of a single ERP, this will simply not work. There is too much flexibility embedded in systems today, too much complexity across integrated business processes and too much riding on your company maintaining its competitive advantages. Use what you can out-of-box, but you won’t know what out-of-box functionality will work until you define YOUR business needs.
When building a plan to implement ERP, start with building foundations in these four areas. From there, it will be easier to fine-tune your approach as you will be starting from a solid blueprint.