Whenever an article in the media appears about a successful ERP implementation at a certain organization, my crude statistics will be approximate as follows:
- 50% will be the ERP vendor announcing their footsteps in the business – read on Marketing.
- 40% will be the client aiming to leverage on some news that could positively affect their public image and thus their stock price (if publicly traded) or a government institution on another PR counter attack.
- 10% give it to a blogger/ researcher or curious media dude just writing to donate information to the world on their page.
So the question lies here:
“How do you make an ERP Implementation so successful that everyone (vendor, client and third parties) wants to talk about it?”
In this article I will point out a few issues, besides the common that will give headway in this process:
- Employee Buy in
More often than not, the client does not fully understand their own expectations on an ERP implementation. If they do, only the top management has the vision and the real “foot soldiers” who will eventually input data do not share in this vision. Before even the process of gathering the business requirements begin, there should be an emphasis on helping employees buy in into the whole project and understanding the scope of implementation.
Whenever this is not done in good time, you end up delivering a Bicycle to people who expected a Ferrari!
- The Sales Game
Ok. So the pre-sales presentations were that wonderful? Think again. ERP vendors will promise heaven and leave you wondering why you never brought them in before, but when you draw that contract with them, there will be numerous gaps so hidden that in the foray and excitement of getting on with the project that will reduce the deliverables by another half.
Note: Pre-sales is all about drawing you in, Implementation is about effort hours and delivering as per contract. If you don’t read between the contract/scope lines, then sorry, it was never personal – just business! It a little like a dating game and in this case if not well thought out, the client end up as a jilted lover, exploited and left high and dry.
- Know Your Product
This one is a double edged sword. It applies to both vendor and Client.
As for the vendor, there must be more than just domain knowledge about the ERP product you are presenting to the client. With all the margins brought about by different product editions/versions it is necessary to keep in perspective that this client could as well refer another five clients based on the success story thereafter told. Ensure to research ahead and understand the dynamics surrounding the evolution of the product visavis the Project plan.
With the client, take time to research about the product the vendor is proposing. Case studies with others in similar line of business and most important of all, Does this ERP comfortably resolve your core business concerns. If this question is well answered the rest is secondary. Classic question of “Is it the beauty of the shoe or the comfort that you need?’
- Testing and Training
It is always important to lay a lot of focus on the testing bit before going live with the solution. Ensure maximum engagement with client and Get Sign Offs! The best way to ensure the knowledge transfer process is successful is by identifying process champions for specific areas/modules/processes/solutions. Train the Trainer engagement model is the best (mostly because you leave client HR deal with inefficiencies of their staff) but also making sure that the Trainers have quality skills in this area. Training process will account for over 50% of the success level of the implementation.
As for the clients, if the ERP is a distributed system with more than one solution deployed, ensure integrations are seamless and working. As one Client PM once told me – “Quit with the smiles and stories, we are done with sales, is it working or not?”
The HR department should be keen on nominees selected for training, these should be the key individuals in each of the areas affected in the implementation. The staff should be capable of supporting new individuals recruited as well as those who may not be as technologically apt.
- Who is your Project Manager?
Definitely important that both client and vendor identify their PMs. These individuals will play an important role in the implementation process besides the boardroom wars. The two individuals must have clear cut job descriptions and must understand their roles. Sort of the husband-wife scenario where if one is a spectator or a fan, its already doomed. Both must live up to their end of the bargain (which must be measured and reported).
There are a lot of other factors that come into play but these are equally important ones.
Happy to hear your experiences.
Article by; Patrick Mbatia- Business Development.