Congratulations! You just finished purchasing a new ERP system for your organization.
Undoubtedly you have spent the last couple of months (maybe even years!) developing an understanding of your team’s ERP needs across a wide variety of constituents — that not only have different, but sometimes competing needs.
You worked through the exhausting vendor selection process with endless demos and different opinions on what the “right” solution is for your organization.
You worked through the vendor negotiation to get them to a price that worked for your budget.
Finally, you clenched your teeth while you committed to leadership to bring the implementation on time and within budget with all the features that are critical for your growth.
At this point, you probably feel like the difficult work is behind you, but you are staring up at Mt. Implementation without a Sherpa guide and missing critical ‘equipment’ to finish the climb.
Take a deep breath and remember that you have a strong team and they will rise to the occasion given the opportunity, guidance and tools. If you break the task down into smaller elements and conquer them individually, the mountain will be yours.
Here are some suggestions on how to move forward.
Find a great project manager.
The project manager is the one that you will task with bringing the project in on time, on budget and with the appropriate scope. I have seen many implementations lag or fail because organizations felt like that could muddle through the implementation relying on the functional leadership to “know how to do this” since they helped on implementations before or have managed other projects.
Implementation projects are uniquely complex because of the need to balance the application vendor resources, your IT team, functional leadership, other business units (HR, Services, etc.), and the staff through a web of requirements, testing, training, cutover, and post-production support.
A great PM in indispensable in achieving success in the implementation. They will have the tools to manage the project schedule, identify and manage project risks, keep the deliverables on track, communicate priorities, manage expectations, and report progress to the management team. They stand at the crossroads of an implementation and direct the traffic up the mountain.
Identify a good system administrator that can function as a business systems analyst.
Your ERP vendor should walk you through the decisions needed to set up the application according to your business requirements, but after the implementation is complete – they likely will be leaving the premises and moving on to other implementations. You will want someone on your team that will retain the knowledge of how the application works and the processes needed to keep the ERP optimized according to your evolving requirements.
Additionally, during the implementation, they will provide assistance with key implementation deliverables including…..test cases, test plans, process flow design, end-user documentation, and end-user training. Most ERP vendors will expect you to provide this type of resource that can be dedicated throughout the lifecycle of the project.
Plan for the potential impact of an implementation on day-to-day operations.
A significant ERP implementation is not an adventure that can be successfully completed without thinking about the impact to the existing members of the finance team and how they will balance their ‘day jobs’ with this new workload.
Frequently, I see a few key finance leaders dedicated to the implementation because they have a deeper understanding of organizational requirements and an ability to drive change and application adoption. Often times, a backfill is then brought in to cover the day-to-day responsibilities that these leaders performed.
Once the project is over, these leaders have a much better understanding of the ERP and how to effectively manage the system once the keys are handed over at the end of the project.
Keep on climbing.
There will be times when the climb is difficult, and ugly, and messy. Just keep on pressing forward with the resources and tools that will make the implementation successful. Let us know if Alliance can provide you with the resources and tools that you need to plant your flag in Mt. Implementation!