iStock_000020614256MediumTis the season for weddings!  The beautiful weather makes spring a great time for couples planning and hosting weddings.  As I help friends with wedding preparations, I find that many of the concepts I have learned in the ERP world make for very applicable advice. Although ERP implementations and weddings appear to be two completely different matters, there are five major concepts that prove to be crucial to both.

1.   A clearly defined scope. Wedding TV shows capture this concept best.  How many couples do you know who start planning their wedding as a small gathering of close friends and family but end up with a full-blown, glamorous wedding with hundreds of guests?  Since weddings are exciting, it is understandable that the magnitude of the event grows over time. Similarly, the scope of an ERP implementation is typically a vendor’s best estimate of your business needs prior to the project’s initiation.  If the ERP vendor does not clearly define the scope of the implementation from the start, it will be much harder for the project team to manage the scope later on. “Scope creep” is a common occurrence during implementation because vendors often discover business requirements that were initially overlooked or vaguely defined.

2.   Commitment is the key. Wedding planning can be a trying time for couples because it challenges them to work together in ways they have not experienced before. Without the upfront commitment from both parties, planning a wedding can even cause couples to distance or break up. Similarly, an ERP implementation is a big business decision. Gaining and maintaining executive buy-in and commitment from the beginning of the project is crucial to its success. Encouraging executive involvement and effectively communicating with all stakeholders will ensure the project receives support company-wide.

3.   Pinpoint your budget. Just like scope, the budget of a wedding or an ERP implementation should be as detailed as possible. Ironing out a strict budget will help the project team manage the budget after implementation begins. Surprises are bound to happen, which may lead to budget increases. In an ERP implementation, it is important to closely evaluate budget enhancements, which should be submitted and documented in the form of change requests.

4.   Understand your unique requirements. Many couples hire a wedding planner to help them with the planning of their big event. It goes without saying that the more the wedding planner understands the couple’s preferences and unique requests, the more successful the wedding will be. Similar to this concept, the implementation partner and vendor must understand the company’s unique business requirements prior to implementation planning. The best practice is to have thorough and precise documentation of all of the company’s business process flows and business requirements. Although a daunting task, many companies find great success by hiring independent ERP consultants to facilitate this process.

5.   Be ready for the change. Marriage is a big step for a couple and is typically accompanied by many lifestyle changes. The more prepared a couple is for these changes, the smoother the transition will be. Although this is a well-known concept about marriages, it is often overlooked in an ERP implementation. In a similar manner, the more preparation and buy-in you can achieve with your company’s employees, the more success you will see with the implementation and the transition to the new ERP system. Organizational change management (OCM) activities should be incorporated throughout the project. Effective OCM will promote communication, prevent employee resistance and build support for the company-wide initiative.

Both weddings and ERP implementations require full commitment, buy-in from all stakeholders, a detailed budget and in-depth planning.  To successfully implement ERP software, many companies engage independent ERP consultants with strong organizational change and business process management methodologies. Learn more listening to our on-demand webinar, The Path to ERP Implementation Planning.

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