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Earlier this week, we kicked off our first ERP Boot Camp and Vendor Showdown of 2014. We have a number of attendees and ERP vendors from across the globe with us here in Vail, CO, so we have had a chance to have some good discussions with companies about to implement ERP systems in their respective organizations.

Based on our sessions and conversations so far, here are five key takeaways that we’ve learned from the various attendees:

1.   Planning is critical to ERP implementation success. It was interesting to hear how many of the participants are eager to learn about how to jumpstart their implementation planning process. More specifically, many are looking for guidance on how to develop a solid and complete implementation plan, as well how to consider all the key activities required to make their projects successful. Rather than myopically focusing on the technical activities of an ERP implementation project plan, attendees seem to understand the need to incorporate key business activities into their plans as well, such as business process reengineering, organizational change management and other key dimensions that most system integrators and ERP consultants are not typically well versed.

2.   There are many strong ERP vendors in the market. This year, we combined our traditional Boot Camp content with additional tracks of ERP vendor demonstrations for those attendees that had yet to choose an ERP system for their organization.  Attendees are able to see overview demos from vendors such as SAP, JD Edwards, Epicor, Infor and a handful of other solutions. These sessions underscore the fact that there are many viable ERP software solutions in the market and revealed how technologically advanced and flexible ERP systems can be, regardless of your specific business needs or what industry your organization may be in.

3.   There are many lessons to be learned from ERP failures. One of the common themes we heard in Monday’s opening session is that project teams are eager to learn from the mistakes of others.  In particular, many have indicated that they look forward to today’s session covering lessons learned from ERP failures, which outlines some of our experience and findings from acting as expert witnesses in some of the highest profile ERP lawsuits in the industry. Perhaps more than anything, participants look forward to the opportunity to understand where others have gone wrong, how that contributed to their failed ERP implementations, and what they can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

4.   Understanding the importance of as-is and to-be business processes. Several of our attendees were very interested in understanding the appropriate approach and timing for addressing business processes during their ERP implementations. With the various conflicting viewpoints in the industry on how to handle business process reengineering, it can be challenging to determine the best approach for your organization. A few of our Boot Camp sessions covered how and when to facilitate business process reengineering, how to incorporate Lean Six Sigma into an overall ERP implementation, and how to appropriately define and prioritize business requirements during the ERP selection stage of a project.

5.   User adoption and organizational change management is critical to success. It was interesting to see how many attendees expressed concern that user adoption and organizational change management would be one of the biggest challenges of their ERP implementations.  Given the fact that most tend to overlook or downplay the importance of organizational change management, it was refreshing to see the level of interest and focus on this important topic. Some of yesterday’s and today’s sessions dive into the specifics of organizational change management in more detail as well.

We still have a full day of content to cover today before wrapping up ERP Boot Camp and Vendor Showdown but these are some of the initial takeaways and lessons we’ve observed so far. It will be interesting to hear some of the additional lessons and discussions from today’s remaining sessions.

Learn more by downloading Chapter Six of An Expert’s Guide to ERP Success.

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