Necessary Elements for ERP Success

(or how to avoid being another notch on the failed ERP bedpost) 

Implementing a new ERP system can be daunting. We all have heard about the implementations that have gone awry. If your organization is about to embark on the ERP journey, what actions can you take to increase the chance of success? Here are some suggestions to consider based on my implementation experience.

 Senior management engagement and active sponsorship

Without active engagement, sponsorship and direction setting, the project will lose focus and can create division among factions (Finance, Operations, Supply Chain, etc.) Senior Management has the responsibility to ensure that conflicting priorities are resolved at the enterprise level.

Who is leading the effort? (Business or Technology)

The purpose of any ERP system is to provide a tool to benefit the business. Technology is the enabler for business performance and a very important one at that. Without proper business involvement, you risk developing a technically sound solution that is irrelevant to the business.

How involved is your workforce in the implementation?

Bringing in consultants that have depth of knowledge and skill with the technology platform is necessary to your ERP success. Just as important, or maybe more important to your success is the active involvement of your resources that have the depth of knowledge of your business and culture to properly represent what is important. By blending these talents, you have consultants that begin to learn your business to successfully configure the application and your resources that learn how the ERP application works to successfully transition the ownership of the application once the project is complete.

Have you sent the A team?

With a project as important, complex and strategic as an ERP implementation is, have you hand-picked your best and brightest to develop your future platform? You will most likely live with this decision for several years. Do you want your cast-offs making that decision?

Out-of-the-box or Customized?

Develop a strict process for approving customizations and make the tough decisions when it comes to what is important to customize. Define your filter up-front based on what is truly important. (When it comes to the way we interact with our Customers, we will not accept trade-offs, but when it comes to other internal processes we will accept the practices embedded in the system).

Scope Creep

Are you prepared to make the decisions and weigh the trade-offs in terms of the scope of what you will implement? In every project, scope is the primary determinant of resources, time and cost.

Begin with the End in Mind

Think through Senior Management’s reporting and informational requirements before you implement. Embed those requirements into the design. It is far easier to create additional attributes in your customer or vendor master file up front than it is to go back and make changes after the implementation.

Leverage the opportunity to improve your processes

Are you leveraging the opportunity to adopt best practices, to challenge current practices and change current practices where practical? Have you stove to embed controls in the system and accept changes to non-critical practices to leverage the system capability? You have a unique opportunity to make significant changes in this implementation.

These represent some of my primary considerations. I’m sure there are many more and I would love to hear them, so feel free to reach out to me to add to the list.

Phone: 312-602-4000
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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