We understand that international ERP implementations are challenging – implementing ERP software in Japan is a different world than implementing in France. There are the obstacles that automatically come to mind for international ERP implementations, including time zones, language and reporting structure, but quite often there are a number of factors that are not taken into account.
An illustration of some of the components that aren’t thought through from a global perspective are alignment, master data, global design, global implementation partners and implementation phases. The reasons these aspects are commonly not taken into account is attributable to the executive management team making the decision without collaborating with their IT team and the proposed internal implementation team. In other instances, decisions are made in the bubble of the head office. Due to their limited knowledge of business processes and culture of their colleagues around the world, key scoping items are not included in the initial project parameters.
Alignment. Most often, the organization is aligned at a senior management level as their daily activities incorporate strategizing with their colleagues around the world. They know the best way to communicate and they understand cultural differences. However, the next level in the organization often does not have that insight and relationship with their peers globally. Organizations should take time to understand requirements at worldwide functional levels prior to the project kick-off – site visits are preferential.
Master Data. Master data can be all over the map in global organizations with layers of different ERP systems, mix of versions and separate instances. Before looking to standardization of data, organizations should understand executive reporting requirements. For example, the grouping of products, grouping of customers and chart of accounts, can be headache during an ERP implementation if they are not planned for and addressed early in the project.
Global Design. One of the key building blocks of an ERP implementation, especially with the complexity of international organization, is global design. It needs to be robust or it will present issues throughout the project. Organizations should spend extra time during this phase if needed, as it will save time and money in the long run.
Global Implementation Partners. Implementation partners will talk about worldwide resources but as with any service, you need to understand the resources that you are obtaining. Ensure that these resources have global experience, especially in key markets that drive your organization’s growth. Take the time to interview all consultants and have them onsite prior to choosing an implementation partner. As with any implementation, cultural fit of the implementer is essential for success.
Implementation Phases. Implementation phases are unique for each organization. Many organizations view phases as a math equation without taking into account the project team, burn-out, learning curves, turnover and required downtime mixed in with international travel. Organizations often move from Site 1 implementation to Site 2 implementation without insuring stabilization and providing downtime for the project team before the move to the next implementation site.
Take time to align your teams and ensure correct global design. Most importantly, make the project phases realistic so you can successfully implement ERP software in your global organization.
Learn more by downloading our white paper, Lessons Learned from a Government ERP Failure.
Written by Geoff McPherson, Manager of Client Services at Panorama Consulting Solutions.