This last weekend was the start of the NFL season. It is an exciting time for football fans like me. The first week of games was full of hard-fought matchups, thrilling come-from-behind victories and many unexpected twists and turns.

Not only is football fun to watch, but it also can teach us a thing or two about ERP systems. They may seem unrelated, but there is actually a lot that the sport can teach us about making our enterprise software initiatives successful. Depending on the outcomes, both are exciting, stressful at times, exhilarating and can cause a great deal of heartache.

Here are five things that American football can teach us about ERP systems:

Football games and ERP implementations are both a game of inches.

Just as the outcome of a football game is often determined by the one pass that slipped through the wide receiver’s hands, the game-winning field goal that bounces off the uprights, or the running back that just barely crosses the goal-line on fourth down, ERP implementations can be won or lost on similarly “small” outcomes. For example, forgetting just a few important business requirements during your evaluation process or failing to test a handful of important business processes during user acceptance testing can all derail your project – even if everything else goes perfectly.

Football games and ERP systems require flawless execution.

Because outcomes can hinge on small details, football games and ERP systems both need flawless execution. Just as a receiver needs to run the perfect route and be in sync with his quarterback, an ERP project team needs to execute efficiently and effectively if they want any chance of finishing on-time and on-budget while delivering expected business benefits. One way to execute well is to have a solid game plan, such as those that Panorama provides its clients.

Your chosen strategy needs to take your situation into account.

Just as the Denver Broncos have learned to contain Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers with well-designed and well-timed defensive blitzes, a good ERP project leader will define a strategy that best fits his or her organizational situation. For example, a company with a strategy of consolidating and standardizing global operations is going to have a very different ERP system strategy than a decentralized organization looking to maximize flexibility and nimbleness. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits all strategy, so a well-designed IT and ERP strategy is key

You need to know when to make halftime adjustments.

Just as Bill Belichick is known for making brilliant halftime adjustments for the New England Patriots, a successful ERP project manager needs to know how to pivot throughout the project. When organizational change threatens to derail the project, you need to know which organizational change management tools to deploy. When business processes reengineering doesn’t align with the chosen ERP software, you have to realize when to customize and when to force the business to fit the software. Knowing how to make these adjustments only comes from experience and battle scars.

Avoid rookie mistakes.

Rookie quarterbacks are notorious for misreading defenses in key situations and being rattled under pressure. Similarly, we see too many organizations and project teams overconfident in their abilities – even though they don’t have much experience or training to be successful. The best way to avoid this is to do what NFL coaches do: surround yourself with experts that can make you more successful through experience and a solid game plan.

It’s game time and you don’t want to lose to your competition! Send in the experts for you to be as successful as you can be!


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