This month, Panorama celebrates its twelfth-year anniversary. In fact, in October 2005, I started Panorama Consulting with the vision of becoming the world’s leading independent ERP consultants.
I’d love to say I had all the answers to succeed when I started the company, but I didn’t, and I still don’t. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from our over 300 clients plus our amazing and experienced team of consultants. These lessons stand the test of time and still apply to our clients’ success even today.
Here are twelve lessons that summarize our twelve years of helping clients of all sizes, industries, and geographies through their ERP software and digital transformation initiatives:
1. After all these years, it has always been more about people and processes than it is about technology.
As much as technology has changed over the last couple of decades, some things don’t change one bit. In particular, successful enterprise transformations have more to do with people and business processes than they do with the technology itself. If anything, this is truer now than it was several years ago. Organizational change management is more important than ever.
2. There is no one-size fits all answer to your digital transformation needs.
Software vendors may push a one-size-fits-all solution since it’s what they sell, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for you. For example, many vendors push trendy cloud solutions because it means more profits for them, but it’s not the right answer for everyone.
3. Most ERP consultants don’t have your best interests in mind.
Just as ERP vendors may push a myopic solution, most ERP consultants also push what is best for them rather than what is best for your organization. This is because the industry is still dominated by consultants, VARs, resellers, and system integrators with financial ties to software vendors.
4. Your business should drive your digital and enterprise software needs – not the other way around.
Your business has been successful for a reason, and often times this is true in spite of your outdated enterprise systems. You don’t want your enterprise software, or anything else, to cause you to lose the “secret sauce” that makes you who you are. Successful companies start with their business needs and let those drive their technology initiatives.
5. Take industry hype with a grain of salt.
There will always be industry buzzwords and new trends to cloud your thinking and understanding of the market, so it’s important to look beyond short-term trends. Cloud ERP systems, SaaS, big data, analytics, mobility, internet of things, and a slew of other sexy terms will come and go, so it’s important to focus on what’s best for your business (see point #4).
6. Even the best technology won’t fix your broken business processes.
One of the biggest (and most longstanding) misconceptions in the industry is related to business process management. Some will tell you that their off-the-shelf technology will help you define your business processes; but don’t fall for it! It sounds good in theory, but today’s software is too flexible with too many options to allow short-cutting of this important part of your transformation initiative.
7. An effective IT and digital strategy is the foundation for success.
Companies too often start running full speed ahead with their initiatives without a clear sense of direction. The only way to overcome industry biases, hype, and myopic thinking is to define a clear IT and digital strategy that fits your specific business strategy and objectives.
8. ERP failures don’t happen overnight.
To the uneducated and inexperienced, it may seem as though one or two fatal mistakes lead to ERP failure. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Much like death from a thousand paper cuts, ERP failures develop over months or years of poor strategies, decision-making, and execution as we’ve discussed in previous blogs. Experienced and agnostic expertise can help you identify those failure points before it’s too late.
9. ERP failures have a lot in common – and so do successful ERP implementations
Neither ERP success nor failure is a result of chance. Instead, there are clear and consistent patterns between those that succeed and those that fail. It’s important to understand those patterns so you can pivot as things get off track along the way.
10. Advances in technology are a double-edged sword.
For the most part, enterprise technology improvements have been a good thing for customers. But, it’s also a double-edged sword. Robust functionality and impressive flexibility also make implementations more challenging from a people and process perspective (see point #1 above).
11. Dramatic digital transformations aren’t for everyone.
It may be blasphemous to say out loud, but some companies simply shouldn’t move forward with their digital transformation or ERP implementation efforts. For some, there is more low-hanging fruit that can be accomplished with much less cost and risk, such as business process reengineering, upgrades to current systems, or implementing point solutions.
12. Vendor independence and objectivity is still a critical key to success.
In order to navigate these twelve lessons, it is important to find a trusted, independent consulting firm, like Panorama Consulting, with no ties to software vendors to help you plan and execute your journey. This is true not just for the software evaluation stage of your project, but also for the implementation planning and implementation phases as well.
There will undoubtedly be more lessons in our next twelve years in business, but these twelve are a good foundation for anyone considering an ERP or digital initiative. Contact us to learn how we can help you with your digital or enterprise software initiative.