Change is hard. Shocking, right? Say you’re trying to get healthy. You go out and buy workout gear, get excited about your future self, and you make it to the gym for a day. You wake up the next morning sore—barely able to make it up the stairs—but are still willing to push through. A week or so in, you realize just how much of a sacrifice you need to make to get where you want to be. And it’s at this stage that you either push through an establish a habit or succumb to the negativity.
Now you may be wondering why a company who specializes in enterprise resource planning implementations is talking about getting healthy, but there’s good reason for this: The path to implementing new business management software isn’t much different.
Avoiding Pitfalls on the Journey to New ERP
If you’re on the journey to a new ERP system—whether that’s to replace an outdated, legacy application or to upgrade from an entry-level solution like QuickBooks—you’re making a huge change to your business.
Few of you could run a marathon or ride a century tomorrow—you need the right body for it. Few companies could double in size by next year with their current solution—you need the right solution for it. While promises of automation, accuracy, and improved access to information might make for excitement, implementation has the same pitfalls.
Notably, the statistics on IT initiatives tell a dire story: “over 70% of technology implementations fail.” And not because the technology itself is flawed, but because the change process was not handled well, if at all.
Just like getting healthy, it’s very easy to go from uninformed optimism to informed pessimism at your organization during an ERP project. You start to realize how different things will be, discomfort sets in, you uncover little processes you forgot about, and the delays come. The whole project begins to rattle like a train coming off the rails.
How to Avoid Failure and Desperation on Your Move to ERP
There is hope. Successful ERP projects happen all the time. It just takes work, understanding, and preparation. Here are a few tips on making the move, keeping people on board, and ultimately succeeding on your implementation.
Talk… And Listen.
ERP is by nature a broad-based user tool. Your project team should have adequate representation from all areas of the business – engineering, materials, production, finance, customer service, etc. in addition to IT.
One of the biggest mistakes in any big change is ignoring input. If you have a nagging knee injury, you might want to understand how to stabilize it. The same goes for your project. No one wants to feel ignored or dragged along for the ride, and you need to get input from user groups to learn what challenges they want to solve and how a product can solve them.
A sense of ownership is critical to success, and users must be involved right from the start and should lead the effort in selecting the system and planning/carrying out the implementation.
Find a Cheerleader (Executive Sponsor) and an Accountability Buddy (Project Leader)
The only thing harder than forcing yourself to go to the gym—is trying to do it alone. This gets even harder when you don’t have someone willing to help you maintain vision. As you approach an ERP project, you need the same kind of people within your company: An Executive Sponsor and a Project Leader.
Each role is unique. The executive sponsor is in place to provide moral support, offering leadership, vision, motivation, and conflict resolution when needed. Throughout the implementation process, the executive sponsor reinforces the project vision, reminding everyone about the benefits each department and person will see upon go-live.
Paired with this, your project leader is there to keep everything organized and moving forward. This person should know and understand your business, have management skills, and be a good communicator. He or she is your accountability person, the person who keeps your company moving forward and taking steps in the right direction.
Find an Expert (Your Implementation Partner)
If you’re getting healthy, you know very well just how hard it is to go from day one to day 100. Often, you’ll walk into a gym and get overwhelmed by all the machines and people around you, ultimately ending up finding something you’re comfortable with—even if it’s not best for your goals.
Ultimately, this is why many gyms offer an initial consultation and others will offer the advice of a trainer. These people want to help you achieve your goals and will help you find the best possible processes to get there.
Like any good personal trainer, your implementation partner is there to do the same thing. Get to know what you want, explain how they are going to help you get there, and do what they can to get you from point A to point B. These groups understand how your business operates and how the new system will support your objectives, and are there to develop a plan and answer questions.
ERP Implementations aren’t Easy—Work with Someone Who Knows How to Make Them Work.
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that an ERP project will be simple—they’re no different than your Facebook friend trying to sell you diet pills. To make the ERP implementation process work, you need to find a partner who is experienced, honest, and who can get you where you need to be.
Crestwood has been in the business of ERP implementation, customization, training, and support for decades, and has the experience and expertise to help you get from excitement to satisfaction. Get to know more about the work we do and contact us for a free consultation.