ERP Implementations: What Does Success Look Like?
We don’t have to look far for unsettling war stories about high-profile ERP failures.
ERP project failures hurt all those involved. They lead to wasted time, effort, expense – or worse yet, costly litigation.
It’s easy to find news of problem projects in a range of industries and organizations. Even the US army isn’t immune. Recent reports show a US Army ERP project is at risk due to lack of planning and proper management
Focus on Success
Rather than focus on why ERP projects sometimes fail, it’s far more effective to focus on why ERP projects succeed. In fact, the probability of a successful ERP project increases dramatically when studying examples of ERP implementation sucess.
With an eye toward ERP success, the following are four key aspects of what success looks like.
The project has clear ownership.
The probability of ERP project success increases dramatically when there is clear project ownership. Take the time to set the stage so the champion shares this ownership with relevant departments/functional areas (not just IT). All department heads and users must be involved early on, since they will be establishing the rules of the ERP system and accessing the information. The ERP project team must be made up of respective business process owners impacted by the new ERP software system.
The project is built on solid relationships.
A team works best together when they all pull in the same direction. The most successful ERP projects enjoy a friendly and respectful relationship between all parties, the ERP vendor and the implementation partner. It’s common for users to “resist change” which may lead to a strained relationship between the users and the vendor. A third party serving as a project manager or mediator can help with the education and communication.
The project measures, rewards key metrics.
ERP selection and implementation is a longer term-project compared to other business initiatives. It is effective to conduct periodic team reviews and rewards throughout the project. Make sure the team understands metrics that will gauge progress (i.e. selection deadlines, training benchmarks, etc.) When milestones are met, rewards might take the form of a day off, a cash bonus, public recognition or other incentive.
The project is run using a comprehensive, realistic project schedule.
This is key to ERP implementation success. Taking the time to develop a realistic, well-defined schedule cannot be underestimated. Be sure to assemble the input of all major parties (ERP users, vendor, implementation partner). Include all the tasks involved, time-lines and who is responsible. Use the schedule to track progress from the starting line to finish.
Successful ERP projects have a clear understanding of the benefits of the project. This understanding is defined by top management and communicated to the entire organization several times over the course of the project. This shared definition of ERP project value serves to motivate the business team to accept the change needed in a successful ERP implementation.
About Jeff Carr
Ultra Consultants, Inc. is an independent consulting firm serving the manufacturing and distribution industries. As Founder/Managing Partner of Ultra Consultants, Mr. Carr brings over 35 years experience helping manufacturing and distribution companies improve their information systems. Mr. Carr has been a finalist for the KPMG Peat Marwick High Tech Entrepreneur Award and twice has won the Arthur Anderson’s Small Business Award twice . He is a member of the World Presidents Organization (WPO) and Chief Executive Officers (CEO).
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