Buried in a recent report on Organizational Change Management (OCM) from Denver based Panorama Consulting are five points that those of us who implement these systems would like to see every potential client embrace.
All too often we see ERP implementations viewed by their buyers as “a computer project” or a technology project – and that’s just so wrong. It’s a BUSINESS project, and needs to be viewed at all times as the strategic business investment that ERP truly is. Panorama’s report drives home five key reasons which we’d like to reprise for our readers today (with a healthy dose of our own commentary based on 30 years’ experience mixed in).
- Executive support needs to be focused on getting the job done right – not just “getting it up and running as quickly as possible.” Firms focused on getting it right understand the need for a balance between short-term implementation costs and long-term benefits.
- Business processes need to be well-defined up front. Given the amazing array of capabilities in today’s modern ERP systems, it is tempting to look solely to “how the software does things out of the box” to define your future stage. That’s usually wrong too. Successful businesses define how they want their processes to look first – because that is after all one of the keys to their competitive advantage — and then adapt the software to those processes, and not the other way around.
- Organizational change management is about more than just “training.” OCM is a structured approach to moving the business forward from its current state to a future state by taking stock of current processes and how they can be improved to deliver better future results. Each stakeholder in an ERP project has a role in the process. Stakeholders need to be empowered to embrace the change processes, contribute to them, and execute the changes. An ERP implementation is the perfect time for all the above. There is a lot of multi-directional communication required to make this happen successfully.
- Just getting the “tech part” of an ERP implementation alone is a daunting task. But much more is required. Panorama says this one perfectly in our opinion, so we’ll quote them here: “Organizations need to focus on user acceptance testing, conference room pilots and other forms of testing the software against desired business processes and requirements.” It’s not enough to make sure the software steps work or the modification doesn’t blow up – the business use must be vetted, validated and tested. Otherwise, what’s the purpose of change?
- Benefits realization is focused on real business results. Tech-focused projects tend to set the bar relatively low: does it work as well as the old system? Is it technically sound? A business-focused project is more concerned with the higher vision of ensuring that the company is achieving tangible, measure improvement. They set baselines for KPIs, and then use their implementation process – and many months thereafter – to tweak goals and performance. What you don’t measure, you don’t improve – that’s the business-focused way of looking at ERP.
We wish every prospective customer would approach the purchase of their new or upgraded system with these considerations in mind – they’d be a lot happier, and more successful, in the end.