We all get massively excited with the new and shiny, Dorie effect, Shiny Object Syndrome. With any new implementation, we all have the tendency to focus on the new idea, trend, or goal, rather than staying focused on what is needed. We get so wrapped up in endless new possibilities that a small ERP implementation becomes a massive project, with full teams, and a long list of “must haves”.
A lack of structure, budgets running out or completely running over, features not being used, and a lack of adoption quickly become real issues faced during an implementation. The shiny has lost its brilliance and we are left wondering where it all went wrong.
Let’s look at some of the fundamental non-negotiables of an implementation:
- Invest in careful requirements gathering
- Include all users – not only end users but users from other areas who will be impacted by the system. Also, include users from future phases
- Budget all costs – from IT support to licensing to training. Ensure you have an all-inclusive budget
- Ensure correct hosting requirements – cloud vs on-premise
- Understand the difference between must-have vs nice-to-have vs not-needed Ensure MVP and correct phases
- Provide sufficient training and change management
- Include a support and maintenance plan
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate
The 6 most critical considerations to ensure project success are as follows:
1. Don’t underestimate or go light on planning
It is so easy to fall into the trap of setting a goal and then once-off planning for that outcome. Changes and variations are not taken into account and people are often left wondering what went wrong.
Another methodology is to plan step 1, build, plan step 2, build, and so on. But the issue with this route is that each component is built in isolation and parts may not fit and work together. Any successful project involves planning upfront but taking users on a journey with you and allowing flexibility for tweaking and making changes so that items fit, flow, and are useful for the ERP system.
Data migrations are often underestimated and really require proper planning, design, and mapping. Poor planning or mapping can lead to data integrity issues.
2. Think twice before excluding people
One of the biggest mistakes is to exclude the necessary end users in the planning phases and the design-making process. The focus is on obtaining executive sponsor approval and no thought is given to the people using the system or dealing with the day-to-day realities. It is paramount that not only IT staff are included in the process but also the representatives of all impacted areas. This will also improve your user adoption.
3. Take time for budget planning and control
Like planning, budgets are often skimmed through and signed off without enough consideration. Budgets should receive huge attention and be as detailed as possible. All costs need to be accounted for. The best option is to have a realistic budget and a worst-case budget. This eliminates surprises and reduces the potential for failure. When budgets are running out, people can try and cut items, and this could impact the useability or intended use of the system.
The critical aspect is also understanding the cost implication of on-prem vs cloud. Hardware implications and operational expenditure versus capital expenditure will all have an impact on the budget.
When building a budget people also focus on the implementation budget and often forget the long-term costs. Once live – there will be support costs, potential changes or improvements, hosting costs, and staff time.
4. Careful with the nice to haves
We can get lost in nice to have’s and fancy features that make the system complex and not very user-friendly. Rather look at what improves efficiency, creates optimization, and makes the user’s life, or process, easier. Most importantly, the features must meet the requirements. The map features to actual needs and not to frivolous nice-to-haves.
5. Rather phase your implementation. And remember the support
It works more effectively to go with an MVP and then have phases of implementation. It allows for more testing, communication, and training. It improves the system and process, and it allows for regular feedback on what is working, and what needs to change. It also brings flexibility to the process that ensures users get the system they need.
Once live it is critical to have support for the users to guide them to use the system correctly, clarify questions and resolve issues quickly.
6. Don’t forget the change management
Critical to the process is to include change management so that end users understand the process and go through the journey. Communication channels are improved with effective change management, and it lowers rework and enhances the success of the go-live.
In conclusion, there are a lot of moving parts in any project and so many areas where things can go wrong. Strong project management, strong planning, proper budgets, and good communication de-risks any project and ensures a successful implementation.