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Last week, we hosted our first Digital Enterprise Boot Camp of 2017 in San Diego. The three-day training and networking event was a good way for us to interact with CIOs, IT Directors, CFOs, project managers and other project team members. In total, we interacted with 30 CIOs (et al.) from nearly 20 companies across the globe.

Although the training is largely intended to be a forum for our presenters and consultants to share our best practices and toolsets, I always find that I also learn a great deal from attending and hearing a roomful of organizations’ hot buttons, concerns and past lessons.

This time was no different, with several themes repeating themselves throughout Boot Camp:

1. Organizational change management is a key concern among CIOs. Since I began my career 20 years ago, I’ve been a big champion of organizational change management in ERP software initiatives. This group from Boot Camp, however, was one of the only groups I can remember where there was such a pre-existing concern with organizational change. For example, employee resistance to change, executive involvement and buy-in, and change impacts were all on the radars of attendees.

2. Executive buy-in is critical to success. There was a great deal of anxiety in the room regarding the level of executive buy-in and support that their management teams are (or in some cases, aren’t) providing to the digital transformation and ERP initiatives. Some were concerned that they hadn’t seen much executive buy-in yet, while others were concerned that although they had buy-in, it may not be sustainable throughout the project. Regardless of where any one individual organization falls on the spectrum, it is apparent to most that they need a steady and solid level of executive buy-in to make their projects succeed.

3. Finding the right ERP software is a challenge. We had several discussions regarding how to find the right ERP software, including a workshop facilitated by our Manager of Software Selection. Some attendees are focused on replacing older, legacy systems, while others are considering upgrades of their current systems. Some had tentatively chosen a new system, but most were early in their exploratory phases of evaluating potential new systems. We spent much of the time discussing the pros, cons and tradeoffs of some of the various systems in the marketplace, as well some of the general industry trends that might influence which software an organization acquires.

4. Experience indicates that ERP implementations can be challenging. This was one of the more experienced groups that have attended Boot Camp. While there were certainly some newbies in the room that had never been through an ERP software initiative, there were quite a few that had one or more implementations under their belt. With that increased experience level comes an increased awareness of how challenging ERP implementations can be, which is why they had chosen to attend Boot Camp and/or hire Panorama to help guide them through their evaluation, selection and implementation.

5. Successful CIOs know when to ask for help. An inflated sense of ability is one of the most dangerous mindsets for CIOs and project managers. In other words, when you don’t understand how challenging these initiatives can be, you will be less likely to recognize when you should seek help. Those that have been through ERP projects before (like many of the people attending Boot Camp), understand when and where they need to bring in outside support. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of independent experts like Panorama when embarking on your ERP selection and/or implementation.

These are just a few of the lessons from Boot Camp that can help you start on a successful ERP implementation journey.

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