Panorama Consulting is a Colorado based consulting firm that helps large companies with ERP selection and implementation. But their advice often applies equally well to the small to midsize companies that comprise the lion’s share of modern ERP implementations. In a recent article, the folks at Panorama ask which of the following 3 questions apply to your ERP project. Notwithstanding the excitement that often surrounds the launch of such a project, they remind us of the importance of the old adage (which I borrowed long ago from Robert Duvall in the movie The Great Santini): Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
- Do you have a clear ERP blueprint? Developing a business blueprint (what our firm calls a Business Process Analysis) is a key first step to an ERP implementation. Just as you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, so too you cannot safely wade into an ERP implementation without a roadmap providing a clear sense of how your business processes will, or should, look. This is not about the technical or transactional aspects of an implementation – it’s about the business underpinnings that are driving the need for, and the future of, your new and improved business infrastructure.
- Do you have a complete ERP implementation plan in place? To quote Panorama’s article directly (since they say it well)… “A comprehensive implementation plan should certainly incorporate a vendor or VAR’s technical activities, but it also needs to include internal and non-technical activities, such as business blueprint, business process testing, organizational change management, infrastructure upgrades, data migration, and other critical activities” not always included in a standard (technical) vendor’s plan. In other words: Think business
- Does the plan include organizational change management? Panorama offers six key organizational change management “work streams” (which they use to sell their services) but the larger point is simply this: Without organizational and process flow change – and their corresponding management – an ERP system is probably incomplete at best, and a fool’s errand at worst. Be sure that your implementation addresses changes in workflows and reporting… that it includes ample staff training (in both the software and in some of the key principles of ERP, MRP and process change)… and that you’re benchmarking a few Key Performance Indicators against your firm’s most important financial success criteria.
We recommend clients give these questions fair consideration before putting money down on a system for which they have not adequately planned the business case.
Otherwise, you run the risk of Ready, Fire, Aim!