We’ve been discussing in our previous two posts the pressures and the groundwork required in any new ERP implementation project. Today, we’ll look at the logical results of those two, and talk about how best to manage the implementation. (We’re using as our foundation for these comments the results of a survey by Aberdeen Research just released in April, 2013, and covering 188 respondents.)
As a project moves forward, project management becomes essential. In our own projects with clients, we always assign a project manager (managing administrative project details such as timing, billing, resource management, product ordering, etc.) and a lead consultant (deep into the software and meeting the client-specific needs) at our end, along with a designated project liaison on the client’s side. These people are tasked with bringing the project to completion.
There were four key elements that were essential to managing a project cited in Aberdeen’s research. In every case, over 50% of ERP project survey respondents labeled ‘Best-inClass’ cited these elements as key to managing the projects. On the first two, 70% did. Notably, the companies judged as merely average or worse were less concerned about these areas, and we suspect, it probably showed up ultimately in their levels of success. Those 4 key characteristics of a well-managed project included:
- Dedicated resources are assigned throughout the ERP implementation project
- The “line of business” ultimately owns the success of the implementation
- A process is in place for “early warning” for changes in ERP project scope
- Feedback from ongoing employee training is integrated into the project plan
It worth noting that two-thirds of the Best-in-Class companies have a staged implementation process where adjustments to the plan are made throughout the process, compared to around one-half of all the other companies who measured lesser success in their projects.
Employee feedback was found to be a critical yardstick for project success throughout. While this represents some added expense and effort, it is important “to understand that some changes may be essential,” according to Aberdeen’s analysts. “The goal is not just to get the system up and running as quickly as possible, but to make sure it is running as effectively as possible.”
As a result, key takeaways are that planning is absolutely critical to project success, and that in execution, so is training. If employees cannot effectively use the system, then they simply cannot or will not integrate it into their daily routines and the organization will not reach ROI.
Finally, ERP is, like lean and similar initiatives, a process of continual improvement. To do this, organizations should measure success, keep up to date in their systems, make ongoing investments as needed to ensure that the ROI continues as expected.
Next up, in our final post, we’ll look at Aberdeen’s key takeaways. Stay tuned, one more time…
[Cartoon caption Copyright Scott Adams, Inc. 2011]