20 June 2008

Observations About ERP Implementations and Upgrades

Since my March 2008 post, several of us have begun work on a book about business process transformation and training. It’s exciting actually to start collecting in one, single place all the different observations and lessons we’ve experienced over the years. We have agreed on the topics we plan to cover. We have a schedule, and hope that we can keep it despite the reality that all of us have paying jobs for which we are responsible. Finally, it was also decided that I would share snippets of our thinking here. The notion is that some of you might have input, comments, or feedback about what we are saying.

Whose Idea Was It, Anyway?

The idea of a book about business process transformation and training (BPTT) is the outgrowth of numerous discussions with clients, conversations with peers, research, and over 60 years’ collective experience consulting with organizations that are working to achieve better business functions, and, ultimately, sustain a competitive advantage. Throughout all of these activities, we discovered that we had some observations that have become conventional wisdom at FMT Systems.

Observation 1: A process that is defined poorly with no “buy in” from the affected stakeholders cannot be automated.

Observation 2: Business process transformation is about better customer interactions, improved efficiency, and superior decision making. It is not about software.

Observation 3: Employees will not embrace or learn new software, especially an ERP system, without understanding the business reasons and rules, as well as the processes, which drive it.

Observation 4: Once started, business process improvement is an integral part of all organizational programs that seek to increase competency, i.e., Lean Initiatives, activity based management, Total Quality Management, Business Intelligence Competency Centers, and Learning Organization programs, to name just a few.

Observation 5: Too many ERP implementations fail to achieve their potential and, as a result, fail to recoup the monies invested. Although there are many reasons for this, the key failure for many ERP projects is lack of project communication among the participants and with its shareholders and customers.

Observation 6: Unless the CEO and CFO are openly and completely committed to the success of the project, it will, without a doubt, fail! This one came from a colleague who reminded me that I had told him this very thing when he was the CFO of a manufacturing company considering an ERP implementation.

Do these ring true for you? What have you observed during your organization’s ERP implementation or upgrade?

In the coming weeks, I will post additional snippets from our discussions on methodologies, tools, insights, and case studies, as we continue our work on the forthcoming book. Perhaps these posts will assist you in finding your way through the business process transformation and training maze associated with ERP upgrades and implementations. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek at our work in progress and look forward to your comments.