When an organization begins the process of ERP software selection and implementation, saving money is usually at the top of the list of expected benefits. In business speak, this simple idea is often couched as “creating cost efficiencies,” “streamlining operations,” or “leveraging economies of scale,” and, of course, it’s a worthwhile pursuit. The issue is that ERP implementations cost money . . . most of the time, more money than the organizations bargained for. In order to bring the project to a successful close, companies must be willing to part with funds now in the hopes they’ll recoup it — and more — in the future.
It sounds like a simple economic equation: spend today, gain tomorrow. But human nature isn’t quite that trusting. And ROIs on ERP systems are never guaranteed. As the bills start to mount, and the realization sets in that more people, time and money are needed to implement the system than initially estimated, many organizations panic. They begin to lose sight of the desired end result. In desperation to get the system installed and operations back to some semblance of normal, they stop pushing towards the ultimate goal: saving money. The project becomes a mishmash of confusion, compromises and unmet expectations. The organization is stripped of the hope it had for a grand solution. And the end-users are left to try to sort out and try to use the remaining functionalities the best they can.
So how, in the midst of all the stress of an ERP implementation, can an organization keep a true and narrow focus on the ultimate goals of the project?
1. Write them down. This sounds simple enough, but you’d probably be surprised at how infrequently organizations actually put pen to paper about their objectives and desired end-results. Getting the goals in writing serves to formalize the organization’s ultimate ERP mission and vision.
2. Refer to them often. Every change order, request for customization or scope adjustment must be viewed through the lens of the ERP project goals. If it can’t be justified within the parameters of those goals, either they or the request must be adjusted.
3. Communicate them. The goals shouldn’t be a secret. Every user touched by the system should have heard them enough — in enough different ways — to recite them from memory. Consider referring to them at the start of every tag-up or internal meeting about the implementation; this will only help to reinforce their importance and keep everyone on the same page.
4. Put performance measures in place. You’ll never know if a goal has been achieved without putting the performance measures in place to track progress against it. Make sure each goal has corresponding KPIs, and that they’re updated and reviewed consistently.
5. Think twice about changing them. Once the goals have been determined, written down, communicated and tracked, an organization needs to give serious thought before changing them. A company that has changed a goal from “Standardize all accounting and finance functions across all sites,” to “Make sure A/P can access the approved vendor lists” has, in some sense, given up. Keep the grand goals — they’ll motivate everyone to strive for something better.
ERP project management is all about keeping an eye on the prize while dealing with the hundreds (or thousands) of issues that need to be addressed, fires that need to be put out and decisions that need to be made on the path to the end goal or goals. It’s a complicated process, and one that organizations tend to underestimate. To learn more about how Panorama Consulting can help your organization realize business benefits from an ERP system, visit our ERP Services page or contact us directly.