A recent article from Panorama Consulting noted that while many, some say even most ERP projects take longer than expected, go over budget, and fail to deliver expected business benefits, research from Panorama’s “2013 ERP Report” indicates that an overwhelming 86% of surveyed firms still report being generally satisfied with their ERP implementations.
Why the dichotomy? Well, at least partly it’s because those companies had no clear definition of success. So once the transition pains subside, they report overall satisfaction. Perhaps raising the bar a tad is in order, and to this end, we submit Panorama’s three key steps companies can take to ensure their ERP project teams actually achieve real success…
1.) Clearly define success. While for many companies we see, “anything is better than what we have…” you’re not spending hundreds of thousands (or in large companies, millions) of dollars to achieve incremental success. You’re looking for a tangible return on investment from your software. The “business case” should be the key mechanism for both justifying the investment and for defining what constitutes success.
2.) Articulate expected process improvements. Expected business improvements should be equally well defined and clearly articulated to the project team. More than merely suggesting software will make things better, the process improvements should be clearly defined and documented in a way that they can actually be enabled. For our clients, we like to define these during the initial Business Process Analysis in order to ensure they become a part of the eventual solution. If you clearly define the ‘before’ processes and then the proposed ‘new’ processes, you stand a much better chance of actually streamlining operations.
3.) Conduct post-implementation audits. About 90 days after implementation, conduct an audit to ensure that actual results are measured and compared to expected benefits. Look for places where processes are breaking down, inefficient, or not delivering results. While painful, this is often the low hanging fruit that can help justify early investment. We often find that training is a key area that has been neglected. Often too, we find that report creation, business intelligence, drilldowns, and all the ‘after-the-fact’ data revealed by the new system is ignored or insufficiently exploited. The post-imp audit period is the perfect time to look for improvement in these areas.
Words to the wise… it’s all about getting your money’s worth!
For contrast, in our next post we’ll take a quick look at what Panorama Consulting says constitutes an ‘ERP failure.’ Stay tuned…