So how does one ensure ERP success? Many assume success or failure is the fault of the software you purchase, but in reality, 95% of a project's success or failure is in the hands of the company implementing the software, not the software vendor.
Here are just a few ERP implementation critical success factors that we have seen:
- Focus on business processes and requirements first. Too often, companies get tied up in the technical capabilities or platforms that a particular software supports. None of this really matters. What really matters is how you want your business operations to run and what your key business requirements are. Once you have this defined, you can more effectively choose the software that fits your unique business needs.
- Focus on achieving a healthy Return on Investment, including post-implementation. This requires doing more than just developing a high-level business case to get approval from upper management or your board of directors. It also entails establishing key performance measures, setting baselines and targets for those measures, and tracking performance after go-live. This is the only way to truly realize the benefit potential of ERP.
- Strong project management and resource commitment. At the end of the day, your company owns the success or failure of a large ERP project, so you should manage it accordingly. This includes ensuring you have a strong project manager and your "A-players" from the business to support and participate in the project.
- Commitment from company executives. Any project without support from it's top-management will fail. Support from a CIO or IT Director is fine, but it's not enough. No matter how well-run a project is, problems arise (such as conflicting business needs), so the CEO and your entire C-level staff needs to be on board to drive some of these
- Take time to plan up front. An ERP vendor's motive is to close a deal as soon as possible. Yours should be to make sure it gets done right. Too often, companies jump right in to a project without validating the software vendor's understanding of business requirements or their project plan. The more time you spend ensuring these things are done right at the beginning of the project, the less time you'll spend fixing problems later on.
- Ensure adequate training and change management. ERP systems involve big change for people, and the system will not do you any good if people do not understand how to use it effectively. Therefore, spending time on money on training, change management, job design, etc. is crucial to any ERP project.
- Make sure you understand why you're implementing ERP. This is probably the most important one. It's easy to see that many big companies are running SAP or Oracle and maybe you should too, but it's harder to consider that maybe you don't need an ERP software at all. Perhaps process improvement, organizational redesign, or targeted best-of-breed technology will meet your business objectives at a lower cost. By clearly understanding your business objectives and what you're trying to accomplish with an ERP system, you will be able to make a more appropriate decision on which route to take, which may or may not involve ERP.