One of our recent blog entries discussed how to define to-be processes as part of a successful IT implementation. Based on this entry, one reader questioned whether or not this is feasible if the IT project is not aligned with overall business strategy.
This reader is absolutely right: aligning an ERP implementation with a company's overall business strategy is a difficult and often overlooked component of a successful project. I think the main thing needed is to take a top-down approach to defining business processes and then ultimately arriving at an ERP solution that fits the overall business.
In other words, before you can configure a system to enable your desired to-be processes, you need to define what these to-be processes look like. In order to understand your to-be processes, you need to know your operational strategy. And before defining your operational strategy, you need to define your overall corporate strategy and objectives.
So this is why the appropriate approach to ensure a successful ERP project that is aligned with the overall corporate and operational strategy is to:
1) Define your corporate strategy and objectives. I typically look at a 3-5 year horizon when helping clients through the process. I also challenge them to answer the question: "where do you want the company to be in 5 years?" Also, "what operational strategy is required to enable this higher-level corporate strategy?"
2) Once you have clearly articulated the company strategy, then you need to
define your "to-be" business processes that will enable this corporate and
3) Then, establish the performance measures at the corporate, operational, and
business process levels. These measures should help you identify how
successful you have been in executing against your defined strategy. They
should also align with reports that come out of your ERP system.
4) Finally, you can begin designing, configuring, and testing the system to ensure that it is aligned with #1-3.
The unfortunate thing is that most companies start with #4 and skip steps 1-3.
By following all four, however, companies can be better prepared to ensure ERP
alignment with overall company strategy.