Two weeks ago, I was in Florida for the SAPPHIRE conference. Although I received a lot of firsthand information about SAP’s new software products and their recently adopted technologies, the first thing I wanted to share with my colleagues was a very inspiring and entertaining speech given by the former Secretary of State General Colin Powell. Sometimes, a powerful speech can provide the best opportunity to equip oneself in battle.
Powell’s speech started with a discussion on his retired life and he joked about his age, his school life, and how he struggled to keep up with new technology. He used many anecdotal stories yet initially didn’t really sound like he was presenting on behalf of the enterprise software giant SAP. As I listened, I gradually came to understand the message he wanted to deliver to the room filled with SAPPHIRE attendees.
He talked about his personal feelings on dynamic change and reflected on the multiple transitions he has experienced in his own life – from serving in the military to serving the whole United States to becoming a businessman in a venture capital. He managed those transitions well, in spite of being accompanied by uncertainties and concerns. He believes that strong leadership is critical to every successful transition.
Everyone may have had their own views of what he was implying, but to me, it was the perfect motto for those companies that have been through ERP projects. It is well known that a key reason for implementing ERP software is to gain competitive advantages in operations, but very often it is also followed by concurrent organizational issues – especially the lack of employee commitment. Our previous research showed that only 27% of companies had very strong employee commitment, which indicated that employees were often overwhelmed by the challenges of such a transition and resistant to change. Powell gave the best prescription for this: a good leader takes care of his employees, gives them the best tools, and trains them to excel. Are these not the exact same actions that IT executives should take when executing an ERP project?!
Be more engaged with your employees, educate them on the ERP project’s goals, and train them to be more comfortable with the new ERP system and the associated process changes. These are the ingredients for a successful ERP project and ROI driven ERP implementation.
Powell said: “Good leaders face the reality of a problem and never pretend it isn’t there.” I hope this message will guide ERP project teams and companies though their ERP implementation and build the attitude for a successful ERP project.
Blog entry written by Haoyan Sun, Research Analyst at Panorama Consulting Group.