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Would you build a new house without an approved construction plan? Most likely the answer to that question would be no. Would you implement a new ERP system without an approved implementation plan? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is many times yes.

The year 2010 was the year of ERP failures, so it is hard to believe most companies are launching ERP implementations with a proper project plan.

Building a House is Like Implementing an ERP System

In many ways, ERP projects resemble construction projects. Exchange the house for an ERP system and you will quickly find similarities. Both projects employ project managers; both have project budgets and cost estimates; and both have a large list of activities, tasks, and owners. In both projects, a large variety of activities need to come together to produce the desired outcome.

Construction projects have achieved a great level of predictability in producing a consistent, quality result within a planned budget and timeframe. In the planning stage of a construction project and well before construction begins, there is often an architect’s drawing showing the planned appearance of the finished structure along with documentation that details cost, schedule, and the engineer’s blueprints. A construction project typically has a comprehensive project plan and a very predictable outcome.

ERP projects have not yet achieved the same consistency and predictability as the contraction industry. An excessive amount of large ERP failures were reported and published during 2010. It is as if the ERP industry has forgotten about the foundation. It is as if the ERP industry has forgotten about the core concepts of project planning and ongoing project management. Are we becoming to accustom to ERP failures and losing sight of real ERP success?

Organizations need to return their focus to the core concepts of project management. They need to revisit the practices of the construction industry, so their ERP initiatives can have predictable and successful outcomes. They need to understand that not everyone is capable of building a house and that a true expert needs to be consulted to hedge against disastrous results.

The Blueprint Needs to Make a Comeback

A construction project has a blueprint, so why shouldn’t an ERP implementation? A great ERP project manager knows the key to ERP success is to make the ERP implementation as predictable and consistent as a construction project. The only way to truly do this is to form a solid foundation early and do so with a thorough ERP blueprint.

Panorama believes in preparing an ERP blueprint to properly prepare clients before they “pour the concrete” or “hammer any nails”. An ERP blueprint is best done even before you install the ERP system or start choosing configuration settings. You need to know where the equivalent of windows, doors, bedrooms and other details are going to fit before you begin to build.

Business blueprinting helps you to plan the ERP implementation and design the new business processes according to the organization’s individual needs. Business blueprinting gives you a plan to follow and is an important ingredient in ERP success.

Every ERP Implementation Needs a Master Builder

A construction project has a master builder, so why shouldn’t an ERP implementation? Architects and builders develop their professional expertise through years of experience and multiple projects. ERP experts develop their professional expertise through years of experience and multiple ERP implementations. A master builder and true ERP expert can only take claim to their title if they have a level of expertise that is both proven and that provides predictable results.

Unfortunately for the ERP industry, there is no governing body that reviews the expert’s credentials or steps in at each project milestone to determine if the project is at appropriate level of building code. If there were, we would see a lot less ERP failures. Instead, the ERP project manager and implementation team are left to their own devices. They alone must decide if the project is a go or no go. They alone determine success or failure.

Plan for ERP Success

By taking the time to develop an ERP blueprint, you create a foundation and you build predictability and sustainability into your ERP project. You set yourself and your ERP implementation on the path to ERP success, business benefits realization, and obtainable ROI. By consulting an ERP expert and planning ahead, you begin to act like a master builder and avert ERP disaster.

If you would like assistance in building your ERP blueprint, contact one of Panorama’s experts of consider enrolling in our upcoming ERP Boot Camp training course.

Blog post written by Greg Griffith, a business analyst at Panorama Consulting Group.