Many ERP software selection consultants do little to lay the foundation for a successful implementation. The only thing that they (hopefully) do is help their client get the right product. In reality, there is a lot more to ERP success than selecting the right software.
Good ERP selection consultants all start with some form of process analysis. If they are doing their job correctly, they will be talking to actual process stakeholders and not to managers who aren’t doing the work. It is common for operational employees to go “underground” and do things their own way in order to get the job done. Sometimes, these changes to standard procedure are for the better – sometimes they’re not.
Regardless, it is critical to start by understanding what is really going on, not what “should” be going on. This means that the consultant will have one-on-one (or maybe two- or three-on-one) time with the people that will ultimately be using the new ERP system. We all know that change is difficult for many and these sessions provide an ideal environment in which to “prepare the field for planting.”
These sessions should not be a one way street in which the consultant simply gathers process details. A good process should include the following:
1. Help set expectations for the implementation workload
2. Gather any improvement ideas the stakeholder may have
3. Learn what they like and dislike about the current process
4. Evaluate their resistance (or enthusiasm) for change
Capturing this information in a way that can be turned over to the implementation team will jump-start the team’s process by providing valuable insight that would otherwise be very time-consuming (and expensive) to gather. The team can use the information to identify trouble spots and also to create an “inventor’s mentality” when suggested improvements dovetail with changes brought about by the new system.
Implementations usually succeed or fail based upon the cooperation and persistence of the entire organization. There is no substitute for laying a strong foundation for success. If the selection consultant doesn’t do it, the implementation team should, but we all know that when the budget is cut to the bone, these are the first services to go.
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