08 Feb Making Your ERP / CRM Project a Resounding Success
Author: Alexandre Boyer – VP operations – Nubik
How many times have you heard about the implementation of an ERP or a CRM that’s gone four times over budget and took four times longer than was forecasted? Yet avoiding IT system implementation nightmares is simpler than you might think.
Obviously, if you’ve decided to work with outside consultants, they too bear responsibility for the outcome. Best practices for dealing with consultants will be the topic of a blog post to come. In this post, we’ll keep the focus on you – yes you! We’re going to take a look at a few of the most common mistakes, which can lead to disastrous outcomes.
Us vs. them
The first mistake, and maybe the biggest, is to treat outside consultants like beasts of burden. Squeezing them from all sides, whether it’s on the schedule or the budget, and expecting a high-quality product, just isn’t realistic.
Give yourself the best chance of success on all fronts by working as a team. The implementation team includes everyone who will be involved in the project. Get rid of the concept of us vs. them – everyone’s playing on the same team. Give yourself the means to succeed – listen to these outside consultants, who have experience on many similar types of projects. Their opinions are often based on a fair amount of experience. And don’t for one minute think that they’re only in it for the money! The vast majority of the time, the projects they work on become their babies, and they are committed to their success.
It’s an IT project; let IT take care of it
Yes, its true, setting up an ERP or a CRM is a project in IT’s realm. But it’s also a project with the goal of improving the performance of business teams. Definitely get them involved.
If the IT team goes it alone, it will definitely be pleased with the results, but these results may also be totally out of synch with reality of the daily work done by the teams.
Make sure that everyone who may be impacted by the project has a seat at the table. For example, if it’s a sales project, by all means identify the needs of the VPs and Directors in sales, but also make sure to get the perspective of a sales rep as well as a rep from internal sales. These are the people who will use system and will be inputting the information.
We’re doing it because we need it
Identifying the need for an IT system is a legitimate reason for implementing one. But don’t let your imagination stop there. Establish key performance indicators to align the project with the goals you’ve set, as well as measure its success once it’s finished.
If you aren’t able to measure the project’s impacts on your organization, there’s a high probability that you didn’t achieve your goals (since you don’t even know what they are).
We know what we want – let’s get started!
Many companies want fast results, whether it’s to feel satisfied, or simply to justify the project. It’s great to know the high-level goals from the outset of the project, but as they say, the devil is in the details.
From the start, allow yourself enough time to establish the requirements. Reflect on your processes. Think about the borderline cases. These are all the types of factors that will influence the design of the system. It’s much better to be aware of them from the outset and set yourself up accordingly, than to discover something once it’s too late, and need an overhaul. Instances like these cost dearly, in time and money!
We’ll fix it, no need to loop-in the sponsor
Wrong! As soon as one element starts to slip, or doesn’t go as planned, inform your sponsor. Be sure to explain possible alternatives, and come to an agreement as a team. There’s nothing worse than to think you’re fixing the issue as you continue to dig yourself into a deeper hole…. only realizing at the very end that you’ve been digging in the wrong place all together!
That person is never happy, so why bother asking their opinion
Actually, you’ve got it backwards. Identify the people who have influence on the team. It’s often people who are the most vocal and aren’t afraid to share their opinions. It may also be those who oppose the project. Involve these people from the very beginning; allow them to develop a sense of ownership, which can help them to assert a positive influence on the team.
If you keep these people out of the loop, there’s a good chance that once the system is delivered, they will continue to gripe, and will never get on board. It would be unfortunate if it brings the whole team down as a result.
I’m too busy; I’ll learn once the system is delivered
Practice makes perfect, this axiom is the order of the day. Don’t wait for it to be fully implemented to learn the ropes! If that is the case, you’re likely to hit a wall, becoming frustrated with the system.
It’s definitely worth your time to go through a comprehensive UAT. Yes, it is demanding when combined with all the other things on your plate. But your work will pay off in the long run.
There’s so much to cover, including other elements like user uptake, how to define an initial scope that’s realistic, or even the right way to conduct risk management.
The motto for a successful system is simple. Set yourself up to succeed, and stay positive!
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