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Everyone loves success stories – perhaps most of all those of us in the ERP software implementation world. But success is a relative term. When someone tells you,  ”We had a successful ERP implementation. We went live as planned and on-budget,” then your next questions should be about what actually happened after go-live. Can the company serve its customers without problem? Are the users fully trained and using the system independently or do they need additional help? Does the ERP systemneed modifications and if so, why, how many, and how often?

Success at go-live does not determine success going forward. A system that is in continual need of modification and users that are in continual need of training indicates a project that is not, in fact, a success. Problems like these typically occur because the project scope was either unmet or altered to satisfy time constraints. Many companies in situations like this admit that they removed their ERP business blueprint out of their scopes because they believed vendors’ promises that it would be provided through their software. Simply put, they believed that creating a blueprint would be redundant. Months later, this misstep takes its toll.

To have a truly successful implementation, an organization needs to have control of its own business processes and not trust this critical aspect to its ERP vendor. Think about it this way: no homebuilder, no matter how accomplished, would build a house without a blueprint. Implementing an ERP system without a business process blueprint is just as big of a mistake – even when using a “pre-fab” software system.

Blueprinting – like pictures, drawings and words – is a form of communication that reduces assumptions. And in the business world, it generally stands that the less assumptions the better. It is incredibly difficult to ensure good communication when a global network of people work with complex business process over several departments/organizations/corporations. Companies need all the help they can get, so when they choose to accept their vendor’s “best practice” methodologies rather than creating their own business process blueprint, the probability is very high that they will spend countless hours trying to right this wrong down the road. Worse still, once companies realize their mistake, the changes they need to make come with a hefty change fee.

So the next time you hear about a successful implementation, maybe the first words out of your mouth should be, “Tell me about your business process blueprint.” The answer you get will tell you all you need to know about the true nature of the “success.”

Blog posted by Ipsita Mitra, Senior Manager at Panorama Consulting Group