If you are in the company of a great many other enterprises who experienced challenges with their ERP projects. The initial scope of your project was probably reduced at some point to accommodate time and budget challenges. There appeared to be no recognizable improvement in your business to the extent that you might as well not have done the project. The project meetings and the project debriefing meetings after its conclusion were strained with finger pointing and raised voices being the order of the day.
You may even have reached a point of no return in the project when going back to the previous system would have been more painful and expensive than spending additional money to just get the project done. Some senior people ended up resigning and the project team worked excessively long hours.
You need to start by understanding who your key stake holders are, both inside and external to your organisation. Remember, your important customers and suppliers are also stake holders in your ERP system. Some of your other external stake holder groups could include your bankers, auditors and government. Each of your external stake holder groups will have someone inside your organisation who will be responsible for that relationship. Add these people to your stake holder list.
Engage with your stake holders and ask them these four simple questions:
- What are your strategic business objectives?
- How should the ERP system ideally support your business objectives?
- What are the gaps in the current ERP system?
- Please prioritise these gaps in order of importance for your business objectives.
Use the information you collect through this stake holder engagement proses to develop a comprehensive roadmap and business case.
An important note at this point is to make sure to speak with all stake holders before developing the roadmap and business case. The risk here is that those who shouts the loudest gets the most attention and this may not necessarily be in the best interest of the overall organisation. The motto is quality and real business value over speed. It is important to ensure that you collaborate transparently with all your stake holders throughout this process. They all need to buy in and continue to support the process for it to maintain momentum. Continuous improvement initiatives often lose focus and become derailed when individual stake holder groups are not looked after resulting in them withdrawing support.
The roadmap should contain a complete, holistically prioritised, gaps list including the stakeholders who own specific gaps and what their reasons are for wanting the gap filled. Group gaps together logically and develop project plans for each mini project. Take care to not rush into fix mode. Every mini project must go through design and approval stages. Testing is also critically important especially regression testing where you make sure the new functionality does not break or conflict with the current system. The most important part of improvement projects is training and really empowering the people who work with the system. Improvement projects will fail if people do not know how to effectively use the new features or functions.
The business case should show what benefits each project will deliver for the company. You must also describe how you will make sure that the benefits will actually materialise. The business case is very important because ERP needs to improve your company’s competitiveness, everything that you build within your ERP environment must have a very good business reason.
In conclusion, you have to make sure that benefits are proven after implementation to maintain buy in from the company executive who approve your budget. Continuously refer back to the business case. After go live of a specific improvement project, go back a month later and again 6 months later to ensure that the benefits that was envisaged has materialised.