Pitch these top ERP benefits to secure executive buy-in

If you’re reading this, it’s because you’re already at least half way convinced a new ERP will work wonders for your business. But what does the leadership team think? Even if you’re in the leadership team yourself, getting buy-in from your peers is critical to success. This isn’t just about building a business case to get the budget. That’s only the beginning. Making sure a wide-scale solution is supported, adopted and delivers against its promises means that everyone has to be onboard.

In this guide, we’ll address:

  • Why leadership buy-in is so important
  • What to include in your pitch to senior management
  • The primary benefits that speak directly to leadership’s goals
  • Trickle-down benefits for all staff

Why is executive buy-in important?

Before any major investment, every company needs a business case to get budget approval. But budget alone doth not a successful project make. Getting sign-off is just the start. In the case of an ERP upgrade, the business impact will be as deep as it is far-reaching. You’ll need a steering committee, staff training and ongoing executive support for high-level decision making. You’ll see whole business processes change as the ERP software streamlines your organization and the way your staff work.

Change can propel your business forward. It can help you win new customers, improve efficiency and boost your bottom line. But change can be scary. During roll-out time it can be time-consuming and your new processes will need maintenance and support from the top down. Get it right, and your business goals will be met (even exceeded) in record time. Get it wrong and it won’t just be your internal reputation on the line. It’s this risk/reward ratio that needs to be addressed when you seek executive buy-in. You need to demonstrate how to maximize the rewards and minimize the risks. You’ll also need the executive team to help you sell the benefits to the wider organization.

Let’s look at what you should include in your internal ERP pitch for executive buy-in.

What should be included in a pitch to senior management?

Explain what ERP software is. Not everyone in your leadership team will immediately know what an ERP system is. Start your pitch by giving an overview of the software:

  • How does ERP software work?
  • Which business processes does it streamline?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What are the goals and KPIs of an ERP implementation?

Outline the costs of your preferred ERP system. You must research the costs of ERP before you can put a pitch forwards. It’s not only a case of looking at the initial outlay. You also need to consider:

  • Subscription fees of cloud-based systems
  • Hardware costs for on-site hosting options
  • Ongoing training and maintenance fees
  • Contractor fees if you require an independent consultant

Find out how much an ERP system costs with our free updated Pricing Guide

Include implementation time. This is tricky, so lean on vendors to help you answer these questions. Be realistic about the time it takes to:

  • Choose the right system and vendor
  • Get the technical implementation underway
  • Integrate your ERP with existing systems you’d like to keep
  • Create user guides and a knowledge base
  • Train your users

Align with company goals. Nothing speaks to a leadership team better than aligning your proposition with business goals. Be as specific as you can on how the ERP will help your organization fulfill its mission. This varies from business to business but consider how the software will help yours:

  • Reduce labor costs
  • Support business growth
  • Make the business more profitable
  • Reduce other wastage on storage, logistics, spoiled consumables and more
  • Optimize supply chain management
  • Impact the bottom line.

What are the primary business benefits of an ERP system?

Now you’ve got the basics in hand, dig into the specifics. This means delving into the main drivers for ERP adoption. There are reasons that you want to pitch this in the first place. Pain points that you’ve noticed in the business have motivated your research into ERP solutions. But it’s not just your own pain points that should be in the pitch.

Before you take your case to the exec team, consider their individual pain points and motivations. How can the right ERP solve problems for the rest of the exec team? Use the language of your CEO, CFO, CTO and the other leaders to make sure they see what’s in it for them as well as the business. How can this investment make each leader’s goals easier to meet?

ROI: Return on Investment is a unifying goal among business leaders. Every exec will want to know:

  • When you will see an ROI
  • What the percentage ROI will be
  • How it will happen

Forecasting the ROI on any investment can be daunting but you won’t get any buy-in without it. Your Financial Exec and CEO will be especially impressed if you provide solid, logical calculations with your pitch.

Take a look at these five steps to calculating ROI to get started.

Efficiency: again, a common goal for all, not just leadership. But when you come to writing about efficiency, think about how it can streamline processes for each business unit and spell out what it means for each department head. This will vary according to your industry sector but consider the following in your business case:

  • Refined billing processes for the finance team
  • Streamlined logistics and production for the operations team
  • Enhanced procurement processes for better purchasing power
  • Improved SCM for more reliable supply
  • Greater stock control visibility and management
  • Simpler customer onboarding for smoother sales processes

These are some areas where your new ERP system can make other execs more successful in their roles. If you’ve been listening to your exec team, you’ll know where they’re hurting. Look at how an ERP takes away these headaches and communicate this clearly.

Competitive advantage: another common goal among your leadership team. But this is where you can speak the language of your sales and marketing execs. When your business runs more efficiently, you can:

  • Better serve your customers with faster and higher quality products
  • Improve customer retention by delivering consistency
  • Free up budget for marketing endeavors
  • Shout your point of difference from the rooftops
  • Motivate your sales team by ensuring you deliver against the promises they’ve made

Forecasting and analytics: who doesn’t want to see into the future? An ERP can harvest huge swathes of data that outdated systems can’t handle. Worse still, you may have data that contradicts itself. Siloed reporting, hand-built by separate divisions is a recipe for business insight hell. One unified system that captures data across your organization benefits everyone on the exec team.

By better understanding buying cycles, market trends, and your own business’ weak spots, you can continually improve against multiple goals including:

  • Revenue targets
  • Profitability
  • Speed to market
  • Market predictions

Growth and scalability: all the aforementioned benefits prime your business to scale up. Make sure that when you calculate growth potential, you also account for additional ERP users in your pitch. Check which systems and payment options work best with your growth plans. Will it affect ERP license fees? Will you need additional hardware? There’s such a range of ERP options that you’re bound to find a good fit so ensure you include these in your business case.

Trickle-down ERP benefits: while other benefits might speak more to the wider organization, they are well worth including in your pitch. Keeping your staff happy, reducing their daily frustrations and enhancing their productivity makes for a smoother operation and increased retention. ERP software can help your staff:

  • Build customizable reporting easier and more accurately
  • Check and prove regulatory compliance
  • Promote accessibility and mobility

Now you’ve thought about how an ERP upgrade will affect each member of your exec team, you’ll be able to pitch your idea in their own language. Addressing the pain points that individuals face, as well as the collective business, will help you secure the necessary budget. But just as importantly, it will enthuse the execs enough to champion, support and share ownership of the decisions, rollout and ongoing business enhancements your ERP aspirations entail.

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Helen Peatfield

About the author…

Helen Peatfield is a writer, editor and marketing consultant with a wealth of experience in ad tech, supply chain management and SaaS. When she is not typing away at her desk, she can be found scuba diving or wakeboarding in the sunny Gulf of Thailand.

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Helen Peatfield