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Four years ago we asked the question, “What do you think is the true key to ERP Success?” We posed the same query a week ago, and it appears our readers’ sentiment has shifted slightly. While the successful implementation of an ERP system always will depend on many factors, it’s clear that organizational views on ERP critical success factors have moved away from executive buy-in and support to focus more on business process management / improvement and end-user education and engagement.

Back in 2008, executive buy-in and support stood out as the most popular answer, followed closely by well-designed processes and workflows. This year, well designed processes again stood out, but many readers also chose training and organizational change management as an important key to ERP success, pushing executive buy-in to only the fourth most popular answer.

This shift, in part, can be explained by the large volume of responses received in the first poll compared to the current poll. This discrepancy may disappear in the coming months as the current poll picks up speed but we have reason to believe that future “votes” will follow a similar trend as the responses we’ve received so far.

With this expectation in mind, we can make a few rough comparisons between the two polls. For one thing, we can see that effective technical configuration is low for both, indicating that the technical aspects of an ERP implementation are not as important as people and business processes. This comes as no surprise as our Clash of the Titans 2012 report revealed that vendor functionality issues only account for about four-percent of reasons for delayed success.

Also of note, training and organizational change management have become slightly more important to our readers. Over the past four years, more people may have realized the actual degree of influence that effective change management has on the success of ERP projects. Based on our ERP experience, change management does prove to be very important in increasing employee buy-in and operational productivity, both of which directly contribute to the success of a project overall.

As participants in 2008 and 2012 noted, well-designed processes and workflows remain instrumental to the success of ERP projects. Standardized business processes and clearly defined organizational roles contribute to the success of a project by keeping organizations focused on how an ERP system will achieve specific business goals.

Do you agree with these results, or do your preferences align more with the success factors we didn’t mention? Focusing on benefits realization and gaining third-party support also are important to ERP success. Deciding what is most important to you depends on your organization’s unique needs. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting in our poll about ERP success.

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