You want to begin an ERP implementation, but executives aren’t fully on board. How can you gain the support of your leadership team?
Ultimately, every project comes down to one thing: the potential ROI. Here are eight tips for developing a business case to convince executives to invest in new technology:
1. Relate the problem to the bottom line. Perhaps you’re hoping ERP software will help employees keep up with increasing workloads. Maybe you’re having a hard time accessing real-time data. Regardless of your reasoning, the best way to pitch your strategy is to relate it to your organization’s bottom line.
Are your employees spending too much time on mundane, repetitive processes? Present that information in terms of lost productivity and labor costs. Are you continually missing deadlines? Calculate the penalties you’ve had to pay as a result. Sound financial reasoning sets your recommendation off on the right foot.
The Big Picture: Introduction to Digital Transformation
2. Show multiple opportunities for improvement. One purchase, numerous benefits – what’s not to love? Most enterprise technologies touch multiple areas of an organization. This makes them a valuable investment. To strengthen your value proposition, emphasize each of the ways an ERP system could transform your organization.
3. Demonstrate long-term usability. Executives aren’t just worried about today’s results – they must think about tomorrow’s goals as well. In the long-term, outdated technologies can become hard to use and expensive to maintain. Modern ERP systems, on the other hand, are more user-friendly and seamlessly integrate with technologies you might adopt in the future. Look for ERP vendors that have a demonstrated history of support, system updates and long-term ROI.
4. Build credibility through case studies and reports. Corporate decision-makers need data to rationalize an investment. Most ERP systems – especially large systems like SAP and Oracle – can provide extensive resources to help you build your business case. For example, a success story from another company in your industry can be convincing to executives.
5. Anticipate failure. Executives are held responsible when an ERP implementation fails. As a result, they often err on the side of caution when it comes to expensive technology investments. When you approach the executive team, don’t just present the reasons why you should adopt the new technology. Think through the potential reasons why you shouldn’t, and come prepared with answers to objections such as:
- Our IT team doesn’t have the time to spend on implementation.
- Our legacy systems are too old to work with a new ERP system.
- Our processes are too complex for an out-of-the-box product.
- Our data won’t be secure.
6. Set a realistic timeframe. Implementing an ERP system doesn’t happen overnight. While executives may want immediate results, it’s better to give them realistic expectations. You should account for production testing, user training and data migration. Map out each milestone and consider building in extra days for unexpected roadblocks.
7. Offer to monitor, report and analyze. Meet with executives to develop specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). Offer to provide regular status updates to make the results more visible. This demonstrates that you’re aligned with their priorities.
8. Liaise between executives and end-users. Once executives are on board, you should continue to communicate with them regarding end-user needs. Nobody will have more insight into what’s necessary in an ERP system than the people who currently own your business processes. You can communicate their pain points up the chain of command, ensuring the technology you select meets your business needs.
Don’t be afraid to advocate for the technology you need to remain productive and competitive.
“Organizations don’t prosper,” notes Harvard Business Review, “unless managers in the middle ranks . . . identify and promote the need for change.”
Executives don’t always see the day-to-day issues that impede productivity, but they do have the responsibility to listen to and solve their organization’s challenges. Presented with sound reasoning, a business case for an ERP implementation can convince executives to invest in technology that enables transformation.
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Written By: Faith Kubicki, Content Marketing Manager for IntelliChief.
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