ERP Myths: Day One

The biggest myth about an ERP implementation is that the work is complete, and all investment benefits begin to accumulate on ERP go-live day. To be certain, some benefits will begin to accrue. But the analogy you need to consider when thinking about the performance and payback of your new ERP system is that on go-live day, you’ve replaced your sturdy, dependable pickup truck with a sleek jet airplane, a jet airplane you see for the first time on the day it is delivered. Before discarding this analogy as hyperbole, consider the comparisons which will help you dispel a number of ERP myths about day one.

All ERP projects start with a compelling strategic reason. In the case of this example, the strategic reason is to get to places faster, and from that standpoint, there can be no question that a jet airplane gets to most places quicker than a pickup truck. However it is a myth that you can hop into the cockpit and take-off on day one.

The first challenge is that no one in the business organization actually has any real life experience at flying a jet airplane, just as no one outside the implementation team understands how to work ERP. Even after advanced classroom training, there is an enormous amount of learning and experience that needs to occur before your total workforce feels confident about “flying the plane” everyday.

Stumbling Blocks & Sobering Realities

Another sobering reality after go-live - often clouded by ERP myths constructed around support and training - is maintaining the new system. When it was a pickup truck, there were experts for the engine, experts for the transmission, experts for the suspension – and actually quite a few decent “shade tree” mechanics who understood how everything fit together and could do a pretty good job of trouble-shooting if the experts were busy. With the jet airplane, not only are there no experts to work on the different systems, there are a lot more systems and they are all a whole lot more complicated. Resolving problems is something that is harder and slower at go-live.

Another stumbling block is resistance to change. Resistors waste organizational energy lamenting the change to the new system, and recalling the “good old days”. With a pickup truck, you didn’t need any special runways for takeoff and landing; you didn’t need a fancy navigation system; you didn’t have to plan a trip, you just got on the highway and drove. If you ignore the failure to achieve the strategic objective, the old system was much better, they would say.

The list of similarities could go on. The point is, there is a ton of work to be done after go-live, and most companies do not organize, train, or prepare themselves mentally for that work, nor do software vendors or implementation consultants do a particularly good job of warning companies about the need to do so. The myth that post ERP go live is plain sailing is perhaps the most dangerous.

The ERP implementation team’s measure of success is to stand up an ERP system without disrupting business operations. It is up to the rest of the company to realize the ROI that was promised from the new system after that.

Will your company suffer because of the myth that all the work is done on go-live day?

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Shane Starr

About the author…

Shane Starr is a former ERP project manager, with business experience in manufacturing management, supply chain, finance, and strategic planning.

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Shane Starr

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