American football is my favorite sport for many diverse reasons, paramount among them being:

  • Tactical dexterity – it’s strategic and agile
  • Physicality – it’s a tough and hard-hitting sport
  • Criticality – with only 16 games in a season every game matters

Football’s lessons for effective digital transformation are profound and they (football and digital transformation) are similar in many ways. It’s worth looking at some football themes that can appropriate and apply to your ERP digital transformation efforts.

Successful Digital Transformations Require Practice and Discipline

Football players and other devoted athletes don’t reach their potential by chance, rather they do so through hard-work, repeated practice and religious adherence to a strict regimen. Similarly, ERP implementations only become successful with practice, employing a solid strategy and lots of experience. If your project team is missing a game-plan or any of these key ingredients, consider adding an outside independent ERP consultant to the lineup. It could provide the competitive advantage your team needs for direction and support while maintaining resilience.

Small Mistakes can Completely Change the Trajectory of the Game

In football, a lost grip or overthrown ball can lead to turnovers and sometimes the difference between a good play and a poor play comes down to only inches. Every play needs to be a well-orchestrated effort with 11 players operating effectively in tandem. When this doesn’t happen, things can go awry very quickly.

The same is true for ERP implementations: shortchanging organizational change management, missing key details of your future-state business processes, or misreading a costly project-risk can all lead to failure – even if the rest of your project is well executed. An independent and fresh set of eyes can help avoid costly mistakes. An unbiased assessment allows you to address your project’s blind-spots in a preventative and proactive manner. As in football, you don’t always get a chance to do it over, and if you do, it can be costly.

SAP vs. Oracle Case Study

SAP and Oracle both invest heavily in cloud technology. However, our client was skeptical about cloud scalability and unsure if the products were mature and proven.

Every Play Matters

Each play in the game of football matters. If you can’t consistently execute to get first-downs, your odds of winning are low. This means every play must be practiced repeatedly before the game and executed with skill and precision during the game.

Similarly, every “play” in your ERP implementation is critical and you need to have a well-defined approach, plan and methodology. You need to have clearly defined project roles and responsibilities and when someone is fatigued or ineffective, you need to “bench” them for a fresh resource. If you treat every effort of your ERP initiative with the same discipline as football players, you are much more likely to be successful and effective.

Momentum is a Powerful Thing

How many times have you seen a team blow a big lead or turn an otherwise dominant performance into a loss? If a team is consistently commanding and executing, they typically build enough momentum to win. If they are disrupted by turnovers, penalties or any other things giving the other team momentum, they are more likely to lose. Employee turnover and not backfilling for key members of your ERP project are other common examples of momentum killers.

With digital transformation initiatives, it’s hard to gain and maintain momentum and in turn, easy to lose it. That one executive resisting the project can completely deflate the momentum your team is building and poorly defined business processes can derail an otherwise effective initiative. Many things can cause loss of momentum, so be sure to enlist the help of experts that can help you build gate checks and help you maintain momentum, while avoiding costly mistakes. Unlike football, your ERP project probably doesn’t have referees telling you what you need to hear vs. what you want to hear.

Coaching and Leadership can Turn Average Players into Winners

I’m a lifelong Denver Bronco’s fan, so I’m fascinated by the ups and downs of my team over the years. Most recently, Trevor Siemian is the Bronco’s starting quarterback, who didn’t have a particularly great season last year. This year, he’s been paired with an offensive coordinator who has a knack for turning average quarterbacks into performers and while there are other more tenured quarterbacks, he has so far, shown he can play with some of the best. Good coaches and instructors can often elevate raw skill and take talent to a new level.

Similarly, an average ERP project team, given strong coaching and mentoring will almost always outperform the stronger project team that lacks input and support. Strong leadership melds the strategy, discipline and continuous improvement required to make a project team successful. How can you augment your team’s performance with the type of leadership and coaching for your project to be successful?

As you watch that next NFL or college football matchup, ask yourself what lessons or resources you can apply to your ERP initiative and what influences and support mechanisms do you have that will prep your players for excellence? Adding a seasoned independent ERP consultant such as Panorama to your lineup might just come to mind.

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