Building organizational support is one of the most challenging aspects of getting a new ERP project under way. No matter how difficult your current operational and technical environment is, executives are not always going to support a change – especially if they don’t see or understand the need.
We often help our client teams navigate these challenging situations. Oftentimes, an IT Manager or CIO commences an ERP initiative only to be shot down by his or her boss or executive team. Here are five ways to help you sell the need for a new ERP system to your boss and executive team:
- Focus on costs, benefits and ROI. First and foremost, executives want to hear things in terms of tangible dollars and cents. The inefficiencies of the current processes and systems may be painfully clear to you or others in the organization, but executives won’t necessarily feel that same sense of urgency unless they see how it translates into real costs and potential benefits for the organization overall. This may include the potential of reducing “hard” costs such as software maintenance or manual business processes, or it could include “soft” benefits such as the opportunity costs associated with not being able to satisfy customers are increase revenues. Either way, these benefits should be translated to a solid business case that will resonate with your boss and executive team.
- Leverage your business and operational peers to build a strong case. If you are part of the IT department or middle management, your case will be much better received when you enlist the support of others from within the business. If you can get your COO, CFO, VP of Marketing, VP of Sales and other executives from the business on board with the initiative, you can leverage their support to help “sell” the need to the executive team without having to go to battle alone. In addition, this will give the potential ERP implementation more support when you most need it.
- Consider the status quo and alternatives to a new ERP system as viable options. As a broad generalization, executives like to see a variety of options. You may feel as though a new ERP system is the only viable option – and it very well may be – but you want to demonstrate to your superiors that you have carefully thought through and analyzed different possibilities. This is especially true if those possibilities are potentially cheaper, less risky or more effective than the one you are proposing. Don’t be afraid to explore and compare your recommendation to other alternatives, such as sticking with or upgrading your current ERP system or focusing on business process reengineering. It will only make your ultimate recommendation more credible, and in some cases, you may find that those alternatives are indeed better options than a full-blown rip and replace of your current systems.
- Focus on the “how” in addition to the “what” and “why.” Getting to the right decision on which path to pursue is relatively easy when compared to how to get there. In other words, a complete and well thought out analysis and recommendation will consider how the proposed solution will get done. In addition to recommending a new replacement along with potential specific options and solutions, it is also helpful to outline how the implementation will look based on what you know so far. Things such as how new business processes will be defined, how you will leverage organizational change management and how you suggest managing and mitigating risk will all be especially well received by your executive team.
- Don’t wait until it’s too late. Good decisions are rarely made when under the gun with limited time. With this in mind, it is important to make and build support for your recommendations well before you are in a time crunch to make the changes. In other words, don’t wait until your ERP vendor stops supporting your current system or your old system breaks before making a move.
Success is never guaranteed, but following these five simple guidelines will help increase the chances that you build the strongest case possible for a potential new ERP implementation.
Learn more by registering for our webinar, ERP Implementation Success: Five Tips for Getting More Out of Your ERP System.