With this post we will conclude our recap of Panorama Consulting’s annual (2014) ERP Report, wrapping up with our own conclusions about the results of their surveys, based on many years’ experience implementing ERP. Our first post was here, and you’ll find access to Panorama’s full report here.
Panorama’s conclusions each year from their annual report continue to reinforce the importance of creating an ERP roadmap, anticipating the changes, sticking to the plan, benchmarking your results, and finding a like-minded partner who has the experience and the heart to go the distance with you.
In the end, we think it’s a pretty safe bet that the numbers of companies who did not realize the anticipated benefits… who were over budget or timeline… or who were less than satisfied with their outcomes… were the result of a failure to adhere to a handful of key ERP principles.
It’s become a mantra for us, but… you must start with a project-defining business process analysis. With a BPA, you map out all a company’s workflows and processes through in-depth discussions with each and every relevant player or manager. You then use that information to create a dialogue among your consultants that should yield a final Summary of Recommendations report that outlines key project goals, phases and in many cases, expected outcomes.
Only with that document in hand do you stand an even chance of getting a realistic and accurate estimate of the true costs – in money and time – of your pending ERP implementation. Even then, nothing is assured, nor easy.
But you should be able to get a reasonably accurate estimate of what software can do for you, how long it will take to implement, and whether and how you might be able to “phase in” aspects of your project. During that time you can also make decisions about whether to change a process to fit the software or change the software to fit the process. Both are valid choices, and each depends on your unique circumstances, and what you perceive as your firm’s unique competitive advantages.
Once underway, it’s important to have continuing project meetings, updates and open communications, both of the regular-and-scheduled variety as well as of the more impromptu style. Likewise, you’ll be more satisfied in the end if you have determined just a few key benchmarks, and then track those once the system goes live. These benchmarks, or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are unique to you, and should reflect the most important factors and denominators in your business – that handful of outcomes that truly matter, or that fundamentally determine the pace and flow of income and cash in your business.
Our guess, in summing up here, would be that a fair number of the Panorama respondents failed to do some or all of these tasks effectively, or in concert with their consultants. Hence, the dashed expectations, delayed projects, and perhaps even budget overruns… not to mention less than full buy-in from their respective staffs.
ERP is never easy, and usually disruptive. But like so many things in life and business, we return once again to the 6-P Principle: Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance. You can bank on it.