ERP Explained: How to Secure a Successful Project

Introducing an ERP culture, processes, solutions and technology is one of the most disruptive changes to an organization. Bringing the employees, management, organization and business to play together through a successful project – is a work of art, science and heart. How can this mission be a success?

In my previous Blog posts in the ERP Explained series, I outlined the approach and process of selecting an ERP solution, what is it and its benefits and challenges. In this closing post I offer some key considerations to secure a successful project. If you haven’t read the previous posts in the series – it is advised to do so now.

What makes an ERP Project Successful?

However not black and white, I consider an ERP project successful if more of the following indicators are observed over the course of one year after the project is considered complete, or after a “Big Bang” Go Live.

  • The business keeps growing and there are no procedural or technical barriers hindering scaling the business (i.e. handling more customers and more orders)
  • Employees feel their contribution is meaningful, connected to the business goals and appreciated
  • Employees spend 80% or more of their time on productive work – not on correcting errors
  • At least 20% of the overall company effort is dedicated to innovation
  • The ERP mindset and culture are well embedded and received. Employees appreciate the benefits and accept the added tasks that may need to be cater for
  • The organization adopted a routine process of continuous improvement: more and more ERP features are being absorbed. The ERP is exploited more and more on a regular basis (Analytics for business insight is also included here)
  • New business requirements are supported in a short period of time with little disruption
  • After a period of 4-6 years, the project ROI is demonstrated

How can you Secure a Successful ERP Project?

To maximize the positive impact on the business, I suggest considering the following, when planning the ERP project and during its implementation. This list by all means does not attempt to cover the complete checklist, but flags the most important “big pieces” that needs to be put in place, in my mind.

  • Management commitment. Are we ready to commit to an organizational transformation? Is our management committed to allocating its best resources for this project? Do they understand this is not an IT project, but rather an organizational and business transformation project?
  • Vision, strategy and goals retreat. Form a diverse team to re-visit the vision, strategy, goals and new possible opportunities for new lines of business, innovative processes and new products and services. Updating the business vision, strategy and goals is perfectly timed with the commencement of the new project
  • KPI’s are Identified. Start at the top: what are the key performance indicators in your business. Should be around five such KPI’s. How does the dream dashboard of your business look like?
  • Engage all employees early on in the celebration. Don’t expect that employees will just follow suit. Win their hearts before introducing new processes or software screens. Celebrate (yes, including a real party) with all employees the tremendous opportunity that lies ahead, that they are the precious minds and souls that are taking the business to a new level, the career future and new opportunities that awaits. Demonstrate that without changing, there is no future for the company
  • External Public Relations. Corroborate the positive spirit, commitment and business expectations with publications on mainstream media circulating in your industry. Announce the embarkment of a strategic transformation project that will prepare the company for the next decades in terms of customers expectations, technological innovations and future growth. Announce a successful project upon “Go Live”
  • Setting up the project steering board. The top leaders representing the different business areas, change management, technology and management form the steering committee of the project
  • Identify Core vs. Context*. Adopt a zero-customization policy for context (standard) processes. Change old processes in the organization to align with the ERP tone and best practice
  • Internal Public Relations. Allocate a team (or a person) responsible for communicating the progress, milestones, achievements, changes, new positions and assignments on a regular basis to all employees
  • Celebrate “Go Live”. Instead of instilling fears from the “Go Live” date, prepare for a celebration. Plan a company event to mark “Go Live” and thank all employees for their contribution to the success and growth of the company

I hope this ERP Explained series have provided you with a good idea and a high-level “white paper” in preparing your own ERP transformation project. If you still have thoughts, questions or challenges, please send me a note so that we can think together: [email protected]

* Core represents those processes that gives you the competitive edge. Context are the standard, operational processes for which you want to keep costs at minimum. The terms were first coined by Goffrey Moore.

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