The task of selecting an ERP system that meets current and future business needs has always been viewed as a daunting task – and it is. Careers and businesses have been lost due to poor planning, rollouts and poor product selection processes from the vendor and on-site. Working on an ERP system is challenging and exciting.
As a software and services vendor, it is deeply gratifying to see a customer roll out a well thought out and carefully tested Dynamics 365 ERP system. A company that has partnered with Stoneridge finds themselves in the hands of a seasoned and serious consulting and support organization that will bend over backward to help make them successful. But, there is only so much we can do – not matter how laudable our intentions are.
At the heart of any ERP implementation is the site’s project team – that diverse, inter-departmental, and hard-working crew of in-house and on-site subject matter experts, business process overseers and managers – a group of people who willingly (sometimes there is coercion) sign up to meet on a regular basis and learn, design, share, train, document, and implement a new impactful system for their operation and sites. But this team, small and mighty as they may be, cannot, in isolation, launch a project or be effective and productively victorious without the ongoing, full and vocal support of the organization and its management team – in particular, the O’s – CEO, COO, CPO, CFO, etc.
Any successful ERP implementation kick-off and continued rollout has four elements that I call “V is for Victory”.
What is the Nirvana that is the goal of the project? Everyone involved in the project, directly and indirectly, should have a 30-second vision statement of why ERP is being implemented now. It could be a statement like “To create a communication system of reliable and repeatable processes so as to improve customer, employee, and vendor satisfaction” or “To stop customers yelling at us.” Pick your vision, put it on a Post-It note and believe it.
The project must be viable for everyone – everyone in the company must see, know or have a desire to disrupt their lives for a period of time while implementing new software, processes, and procedures. Employees and partners must feel in their hearts and minds that this project is the best possible use of the company’s resources to sustain and grow the business and improve its viability in different future ways. This viability statement must be repeated and people reminded of it throughout the project.
The O’s need to be shouting about this project – no subtle, gentle emails whispering about this new project. It is not enough to have one senior person in the company being the project cheerleader – the voices clamoring for the new ERP system should only be drowned out by the cheering of the O’s, managers and other stakeholders. I have been to project kickoffs where vendors and customers have talked about why they need my ERP customer to implement a new system – that is a productive voice of support. This should be the priority of the company and the voices should harmonize loudly around the project.
Bang the drums, roll out the banners, print t-shirts, have an all-company meeting – do whatever it takes to make this new ERP system a disruptive force for good as the implementation starts and continues over time. Give the ERP project a name – verbalize in a noun what the goal of the project is. Be big and brave and shout out the goal of the project proudly. Implementing ERP in any company is a big deal, so treat it as such. Project updates, milestones and breakthroughs should be celebrated and disseminated in an ongoing chorus of keeping the project and its importance visible. Implementing ERP is not a sprint – it is a marathon that is made easier with people cheering along the route.
Any ERP implementation gives an organization many unique opportunities to do things differently and with passion, improve productivity in many ways throughout the firm. To claim victory at the end of the marathon, follow a good plan with seasoned professionals and keep the band singing the “V is for Victory” hymn from start to finish.