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There are some universal best practices that make ERP implementations and digital transformation initiatives successful.

Successful initiatives dedicate resources and time to organizational change management. They make sure to get business process management right. They have strong project management and they have realistic expectations to ensure their projects have a chance to succeed.

Although we’ve written a great deal about these and other best practices, there is one best practice that is perhaps the most important: alignment.

When I say alignment, I mean ensuring that every strategy, plan and tactic must be in sync with one another. Most ERP failures are caused by misalignment among the various decisions that need to be made. Those that are successful are well aligned.

For example, some executives claim that they want zero customization with their new ERP software. However, they fail to recognize that this puts even more pressure on the need for organizational change management to ensure that employees adopt the new software. This is a prime example of a project that is misaligned.

There are several areas that you want to make sure are well-aligned within your project. Here are just a few of them:

Overall corporate strategy. Many CIOs and IT Managers fail to ensure that their projects are aligned with their overarching corporate strategies. This can be a fatal mistake, as it will almost guarantee that executives won’t be in sync with the overall initiative, and the new software initiative won’t support the longer-term goals of the organization.

Executive alignment. Just as the corporate strategy needs to be well-aligned with the technology initiative, individual executives need to be on the same page and aligned amongst one another. A new ERP system or technology initiative isn’t going to fix any misalignments here, so not addressing this area will destine your project to failure.

Project strategy. Your overall project and deployment strategy needs to be in sync. If you are a risk-adverse company that has a history of not accepting change well, then a big bang approach may not be well-aligned with your overall culture. Every aspect of your project strategy and plan should be perfectly aligned with your company’s culture, risk tolerance, people and other key areas.

Organizational change management plan. Organizational change management is important to every single project, but it should not entail a one-size-fits-all approach. If your company struggles with interdepartmental communication, then your change plan should focus on improving this issue. If your project entails a high degree of change to individual employee roles and responsibilities – as most do – then you will need to make sure that you dedicate focus on change impact assessments.

Business process management. Business process management is a commonly underestimated critical success factor. Most executives’ instincts are to assume that software best practices will tell them how to run their companies, but this is a misnomer. And if your organization is looking to make leapfrog improvements to your operations, then you can ensure alignment by investing time and resources into business process management.

Project resource strategy. The way you assign and manage resources on your project should be aligned with your overall strategies. If your organization doesn’t have internal enterprise technology competencies, then you should invest in ensuring that you have outside support with the business, organizational change, and technical competencies required to make your initiative succeed.  Similarly, if you determine that this initiative is the most important one that you are undertaking now, then you should provide your resources the support they need to focus accordingly.

Ensuring that these and other aspects of your project are all aligned and in sync, is much more important than any individual decisions you might make within these categories. A well-aligned project has a much higher chance of succeeding, as it encompasses the big picture and puts focus on critical adjacencies.

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