A successful ERP implementation requires strong leadership, vision and strategy. Unfortunately, many executives choose not to be involved in ERP projects for a variety of reasons. Yet, it is executives who possess the kind of vision necessary to lead ERP project teams toward success.
The potential reasons for disengagement are many: sometimes executives are too busy. Sometimes they are confused about their role. Sometimes they are simply disinterested.
Despite these obstacles, it is imperative that executives be supportive and involved in all aspects of an ERP implementation. Executives are equipped with more resources and information to make decisions than lower level staff. When executives do not understand the importance of ERP software and its potential business benefits, lower level staff is left responsible for making difficult decisions that are critical to the health of the business.
An executive who buys in to an ERP implementation is involved in setting goals and managing issues before, during and after an ERP project. In order to measure success and keep the project team on track, executives should use benchmarks to set expectations and establish project milestones — and communicate this information to the company at large. They also should schedule regular meetings to provide updates on the project’s status and they should address issues and conflicts as they arise.
Achieving executive buy-in is easier said than done, but C-level support is an important component of a successful organizational change management (OCM) initiative, and we advise all our clients that extensive OCM is critical to ERP implementation success. Following are five resources you can use to “manage up” to achieve executive buy-in and maximize business benefits from your organization’s new ERP system:
- Key Performance Indicators – Ask your executive team what they would like the new ERP software to achieve. In what ways do they envision the software improving business processes? How will they measure the success of the implementation?
- ERP Failure Data – Gather some ERP failure statistics to really drive home the point that ERP implementations that lack direction and guidance from upper management are less likely to arrive on time and on budget or realize full business benefits.
- ROI Data – Analyze business processes in order to demonstrate inefficiencies and show how ERP systems can reduce the costs associated with time-consuming workarounds.
- Business Process Documentation – Document both “as is” and “to be” processes to emphasize the importance of standardization across business units, identify what departments’ processes would be easiest to standardize and which processes would benefit the most from standardization.
- Organizational Change Management (OCM) – A critical component of OCM is listening to employees’ opinions. Sharing these opinions with executives helps executives perform additional OCM activities based on employees’ diverse needs. The key here is facilitating executive involvement in every aspect of an ERP project, including OCM.
When convincing executives that ERP software can improve business processes and achieve measurable business benefits and ROI, it’s important to educate them about their integral role in the ERP implementation. To learn how Panorama’s independent ERP consultants help organizations establish roles for executives and employees during ERP implementations, contact us or visit our Organizational Change Management page.