A lot of companies fall into the “We Have To” category when it comes to upgrading their business software. As in, we have to, because… our software is terribly old and outdated, or… it’s not supported any more, or… we’re so heavily modified in unnecessary ways that it just makes sense to start over.
Valid considerations all. But should they be the foundational purpose – the raison d’etre if you will – for your upgrade? In a word, no.
In fact, software upgrades provide the perfect opportunity to take a big step back. Instead of simply replacing your old technology, you can recognize that software has taken huge leaps in the past few years, and that a new implementation is the ideal time to look at the big picture, the new tools, and the process realignment and organizational change management that fit so perfectly with a new system or upgrade.
View your effort as a digital transformation project, says Eric Kimberling, CEO of Colorado’s Panorama Consulting. He recommends that companies “step back and define a clear vision for [their] ERP.” He suggests that companies ask themselves: “What exactly are you trying to accomplish? What business improvements do you expect? How will modern technology help you realize those improvements? How will your project governance align with those goals during implementation?”
It’s the right time to clearly define the benefits you expect to derive from your new system, and to better understand your own internal processes and workflows, whether automated or not. You can then look at who is responsible for what, to determine whether that’s properly aligned – something the odds are you haven’t looked at in a very long time.
Your business case should extend beyond merely justifying your project. You should be able to create gains, and then track those efforts in whatever sort of scorecard works for you going forward. Defining just a few key performance indicators, and then monitoring these over time, remains one of the best prescriptions for implementing a new system that we’ve ever heard, or given.
As an added incentive, it’s worth recognizing the plethora of tools now available that didn’t exist, at least in manageable form, even a few years ago. Business Intelligence reporting is a key one. Companies today are finding gold from analyzing all the data they can get their hands on, often in unexpected places. And when it comes to saving money through better understanding of your key business data – like inventory, turns, cash turnover and the like – it’s worth the investment.
It all comes down to planning. If you work with your internal staff and a good outside consulting team, you’ll find it won’t take very long to get the momentum rolling toward improving your processes, refining your strategies, streamlining your workflows, and turning the “we have to do it” implementation blues into the “why did we wait so long” jig.