Welcome back to my periodic Objective ERP Insights blog that shares insights and best practices around ERP implementations based on our years of providing objective advisory in this area. Our intention is that these insights are relevant to CEO’s, CFO’s, Controllers, finance and FP&A corporate personnel that may be involved in any number of the steps that involve an ERP software implementation.

(Recall – we are not resellers of, nor representatives of, any business software products)

Today’s point:  Know your company culture (it will make a big difference in achieving success in an ERP implementation)

We all know the term “it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know”, right?  Well, this very much applies to ERP implementation successes. How so? Because your business’ people – and how they participate – can impact your project as much, or more, than the technology being deployed. And, I contend that you are far more apt to succeed with ERP implementations if you know – and manage around – the following critical success factors:  your people’s commitment/buy-in, availability, and skills.

Tone at the Top – the following factors vital to your success are dependent on upper management being “all in” on providing an environment that allows for the arduous ERP selection and implementation processes to occur in a proper manner. These processes can’t simply be added to the existing workforce’s plates. They need to be planned for, committed to, and given adequate resources (time, money, people) to succeed.  We’ve seen too many corporate cultures, led by executives that pass the buck.

Commitment/Buy-in – building expectations about the effort required for the ERP processes can’t be underemphasized – however, these expectations need to turn into behavior for everyone on the project from the CEO on down.  Once you obtain buy-in to the process (see prior blog about Change Management), you’ll need to keep an eye on the commitment of your team members. These projects can cause fatigue, for sure.  Deadlines for project milestones can often give way to other mundane day-to-day administrative tasks when your people’s commitment wanes. You know your team members.  Keep your “commitment meter” in good working order.

Availability – ERP project team members need to realize that their calendars will become pelted with planning and selection meetings, discovery meetings, training sessions and the like – for several months at least. Working with (hopefully valid data from) your software vendor, your internal project manager needs to clearly communicate time slots and dates for these appointments and the deliverables needed prior to the meetings (those take time, too).  And, your corporate HR and other managers need to ensure that your ERP team members have contingency and backup personnel to take the load off – or, that fatigue I mentioned above accelerates.

Skills – You know the cards you’ve been dealt in terms of who is available to help on the ERP project. But – are they the right people? Your ERP project team needs to have the right mix of subject matter experts about YOUR business, preferably you’ll have people who have been through an ERP upgrade in the past, and, most obviously, have the skills to use and take advantage of the benefits that your new system offers. Perhaps the best advice on this is, with analogy to a racing team: before you buy that Ferrari, make sure your drivers can handle it.  Else, you need to either a) buy a less robust vehicle and compete elsewhere with less performance at your fingertips, or, b) replace your driver(s). You get it.

Reminder about our team and what we do
If you’re a frequent reader of these posts, undoubtedly you know that we’re serious about making sure you get as much success from a pending ERP migration/upgrade experience as possible.  We’re not shy about being realistic, and we speak from lots of upgrade experiences with our clients.  With our network of experienced implementation professionals we also rescue bad implementations in process, or just after a bad implementation – to “get the project over the hump.” We’re unbiased, independent, and experienced CPA’s and Advisors uniquely positioned to guide and support you in this area.

Feel free to reach out anytime… Thanks!

Bob Green, CPA.CITP, CGMA
Lead Partner, Business Risk and Technology Services
ITConsulting@SingerLewak.com