Most authors of ERP implementation agree about one thing; left in the hands of IT consultants and software vendors, ERP implementation projects do not deliver results as promised. Many implementation project leaders do not even go as far as to promise quantifiable business benefits at all, instead, sticking to vague promises of improvements that never quite come to fruition.
As Steven Scott Phillips said in his book – ‘Control Your ERP Destiny,’ a successful ERP implementation is not about becoming a technology guru, mastering project planning software or hiring more consultants. Success comes from education and knowledge that senior management and the project team can understand and embrace.
Based on the exhaustive ERP literature and on our own experiences working on ERP and digital transformation projects, we have come up with a 12-step plan to achieve measurable and sustained financial benefits.
- Review and define the business strategy
- Review the business in its current state and financially quantify the performance baseline.
- Design the future state business organisation and processes. Quantify the improvement that can be made.
- Specify the information system requirements needed to support the new organisation.
- Design the future management processes that will support the new organisation.
- Implement the new processes (or as much of it as you can) within the business and check its functionality. By now, the business should be measuring the benefits from its new processes.
- Specify the ICT requirement to support the new business model.
- Select and engage a supplier with the right ERP system who can support the implementation.
- Implement the systems.
- Train users.
- Deploy the systems.
- Coach the management teams.
Many IT consultants prefer to buy a system that they already know and impose it on to a business that is not yet optimised. The results can be catastrophic with ill-fitting working practices, despondent employees and a very expensive implementation.
We have developed an approach whereby we spend the initial phases of the implementation in putting foundations in place. The more time taken to establish a sound strategic intention that aligns the organisation, followed by processes that support it, the better chance ERP selection will be successful.