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I’m a big fan of classic rock songs and the quotes that go along with them. However, I’ve found that rock and roll provides more than just solid riffs and anthems to pump your fists to – they can also provide valuable lessons for your ERP implementation.

Below are five lessons that we can all take away from the world of rock and roll and apply to our ERP software initiatives:

Avoid the ERP implementation highway to hell. Smart organizations realize that ERP implementations are not easy. Even if they are not qualified disasters – such as those experienced by Hersheys, Waste Management and Avon – they are always challenging. According to our 2014 ERP Report, most ERP software initiatives take longer than expected, cost more than expected and fail to deliver expected business benefits. Ironically, the organizations most likely to succeed are those that don’t expect their implementation to be easy. These organizations understand that to be successful, they need to invest the necessary time, resources and tools in their ERP implementations. This includes the all-important focus on success factors such as organizational change management, business process reengineering and project management.

Watch for smoke on the water. As challenging as ERP projects typically are, they don’t fail over night. Instead, ERP failures and challenges are an accumulation of issues, risks and poor decisions that accumulate over time. A strong project team and a team of ERP consultants should be able to spot and remedy the “smoke on the water” before it’s too late to avoid failure. For example, when a client hires our team to assess their ERP implementation midstream, we will watch for warnings such as inadequate time budgeted for business process reengineering end-user training, lack of a comprehensive organizational change management plan, or poor project governance and controls. Any one or more of these risks are easily identifiable and correctable – assuming you have the necessary skills, experience and focus.

The times they are a-changing. No matter how simple or open to change your organization is, chances are very high that organizational change management is going to be challenging for your organization. Even our clients who are using Quickbooks and Excel spreadsheets to run their businesses have employee acceptance and user-adoption issues. This comes despite the fact that employees are chomping at the bit for a new ERP system – at least on the surface. Once it comes time to get down to the nitty-gritty of role and responsibility changes, reassignment of work and taking away those old, manual business processes, employees will either directly or indirectly resist the change. And even when they don’t actively resist, they will not fully accept the changes until they fully understand them. This requires much more organizational change management support than basic end-user training to get the job done right.

Your ERP project should be about taking care of business. At the end of the day, it’s important to take care of business. While business process and people issues are the main factors that will make or break your ERP implementation, most organizations and ERP consultants focus too myopically on the technical aspects of the software. Though ERP software is obviously important to a successful implementation, it is the most cut-and-dry, straightforward part of the implementation. In other words, the software is either configured correctly or it’s not, but people and process issues are much more ambiguous and difficult to navigate. For this reason, successful organizations are the ones that invest adequate time in their business process reengineering and organizational change management initiatives.

Don’t stop believing. Because ERP implementations are so difficult, it can be easy to lose hope and lower the bar for success. By going in with realistic expectations to begin with, successful organizations are typically able to avoid this dynamic, along with the other challenges outlined above. Just because so many ERP implementations fail doesn’t mean that yours has to as well.

Having been in the ERP software industry for 20 years now, I am sometimes amazed at how complicated and difficult we have managed to make ERP implementations over the years. Despite all the advancements in technology, the industry as a whole has yet to crack the code on how to make ERP implementations successful on a more consistent basis. Perhaps going back to some of these simple rock and roll themes will help us get a better handle on how to make these initiatives more effective.

Learn more by registering for our on-demand webinar, Lessons Learned From Best-in-Class ERP Implementations.

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