I’ve posted quite a few articles on this blog about how common it is for companies to jump on the ERP bandwagon without first conducting the due diligence and planning required to make a project successful. Many companies do not get their houses in order before going down the path of an ERP implementation.

What do I mean by “getting your house in order”? In particular, I’m referring to understanding exactly who you are as an organization and what you want to be in the future. This covers everything from understanding your strengths, your weaknesses, your core competencies, and the areas you would like to improve. Making these decisions in the midst of an ERP implementation can be a very rushed process, and making key strategic decisions like these in a sloppy fashion will create significant pain and confusion in the future.

I work with many companies that do not define these important areas early in the ERP evaluation process. The companies that are able to implement ERP software the fastest, at the lowest costs, and with the least amount of pain are the ones that have a clear sense of direction and strategic priorities. These companies are in a strong position to let their business drive ERP technology, not the other way around. Many companies that fail at their ERP projects let the technology drive their business.

The key takeaway is that ERP cannot be implemented successfully without clear requirements, which are key to ERP implementation success. By the same token, clear requirements cannot be defined until business processes are well defined. And business processes cannot be defined until organizations establish a clear sense of strategic direction. Organizations should ensure that these areas are taken into consideration during their ERP assessment and software selection processes.

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