"Whose idea was this anyway?" If employees are asking that question mid-implementation, then the project is already on a bad path. By the time an ERP deployment undertaking kicks off, everyone around the table should be crystal clear on the key reasons motivating the venture. The best implementations seem to occur when people working in separate areas of the business are able to articulate the same influences behind this grand investment in time and resources. As you think about your own implemenation, ask these three questions to help get all participants reciting the same inspirations for the long climb ahead.
Who was involved in generating the written set of requirements for the project?
The author(s) who drafted your needs and wishes documents should be consulted so that everyone can understand - and validate - the comprehensiveness of their work. Did they interview management? If not, there may be eventual (even disastrous) disagreement at the decision-making level about prioritizing the business's motiviations. Whose thoughts did they gather at the operational levels of the company? Do these people individuals have enough history in their respective realms to address the critical needs of their teams? As we gear up for an implementation, we like to avoid surprises by confirming that motiviations throughout the organization are accurately and sufficiently represented. You don't have a written set of requirements for your implementation yet? Here's your opportunity to build one right from the outset.
What impact will there be to the various groups in the company if this project doesn't happen?
In other words, what is the cost of taking no action? Figuring out what doing nothing is costing compared to what implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning system will cost can be a confusing task. Legacy software systems often appear to be functioning at low or no cost. In reality, what they can't do or don't do well anymore can turn out to be mighty expensive when the cost of all those manual and alternative processes are added up. It's worth puzzling through the numbers if you suspect that a new system will benefit your growing company's bottom line long into the future. Understanding total cost of ownership and return on investment for a new system in terms of concrete numbers may be all the motivation the people running your organization require to stop ignoring the losses and start moving the project forward.
To what extent are relationships with external entities a factor driving the business towards a new solution?
What systems are your customers and vendors using to place and receive orders? Have your competitors moved their ecommerce systems to the cloud in order to capitalize on systems that your current software can't integrate with? Is the speed at which you transact business hobbled by the limited capabilities of your network? Being able to participate fully and robustly in the market may be the single biggest reason motivating businesses to implement intelligent, connected ERP solutions. Surveying the software solutions that your customers are using to be successful can be an enormous clue into discovering ways that your own technology choices can support and benefit from that success. And don't let your enthusiasm be dampened by thinking about it as an all-or-nothing proposition. Contemporary ERP systems are - or should be - flexible enough to be phased in and adapt to the needs of your business over time.
What is motivating your company's desire (need?) to deploy a new ERP software solution? How are you translating those motivations into controlled tasks towards a successful implementation? We welcome you to share your experiences with the community in the comments below. And if your company is just getting the process started but having difficulty organizing your motivation or timeline into action, we recommend discussing your project with a Trusted Advisor, who can help you structure your project.