Managing your own digital transformation or ERP software initiative can be a tempting idea. However, the concept rarely works and is riddled with potential failure points.
If you’re a new CIO, the thought of taking the bull by the horns and being a one-man transformation machine can be particularly alluring, but it is very important to avoid these ten pitfalls:
1. Backing yourself into a corner with a single ERP system. Gone are the days of using a single ERP system to automate your business. Best-of-breed and integrated point solutions used to be considered blasphemy in the enterprise technology space, but technology is too flexible to be limited to a single enterprise software vendor or solution.
2. Not fully understanding options in the marketplace. Just as you don’t want to limit yourself to one enterprise software solution, you also want to consider the plethora of options in the market. SAP and Oracle built their successes in the 1990s and early 2000s by developing the only solutions that could scale for larger organizations, but those days are long gone. There are plenty more options available to larger and more complex organizations.
3. Taking your software vendor’s proposal at face value. Software sales reps are hired to sell software, not manage to realistic expectations. They also don’t have a complete understanding of all the activities required to make your initiative successful outside the installation of their software, so it is important to take their proposals with a grain of salt.
4. Rushing the project and minimizing costs. It may seem counterintuitive, but minimizing time and cost can, in fact, hurt your project and organization more than it can help. Fast and cheap doesn’t necessarily equal “right,” so be sure you aren’t stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. Start with a realistic implementation plan and budget, and be sure to take your time to do it right.
5. Relying on the software to drive your business process improvements. We all wish there was software out there to tell us how to better run our businesses, but the reality is that today’s software is too flexible to define your business processes for you. Spending time defining your business processes early in your evaluation or selection will save you considerable time and money later in the project.
6. Failing to effectively manage change within your workforce. It doesn’t matter that your people are “ready for change” and “tired of that old system.” Change is difficult once you dig into the details. Be sure to invest the resources in managing change and transitioning your team to the new business processes, organizational roles and responsibilities and training required to make your initiative successful. Take the time to develop and execute an effective organizational change management strategy and plan.
7. Not assembling an ace team of great project team members. No CIO can single-handedly make a project succeed, even if they have past implementation experience. Instead, leverage the support of a great project team built from people within your IT group, and more importantly, from business operations.
8. Overlooking the need for executive support and buy-in. It doesn’t matter how good you are – your project will not succeed if your executive team isn’t fully on board and supportive of the project. This includes ensuring that your executive team not only approves the project budget but also helps make key decisions regarding the business.
9. Failing to leverage technology agnostic, independent digital transformation consultants. There is no surrogate for independent ERP software and digital transformation consultants. These fresh sets of eyes, objectivity and lack of ties to any one software vendor will ensure that you implement the technology and business processes.
10. Staking your career on this single transformation. It’s a shame: too many CIOs and executives are fired over ERP implementation failures. Don’t be one of those statistics. Instead, make sure you leverage the right help and avoid the other nine pitfalls to ensure that your project is successful and your career thrives.
Digital transformations can be difficult, but avoiding the above pitfalls will ensure that you have a better chance of success.