Updated ERP systems hold a great deal of promise through enabling improved process efficiencies, reduced data duplication efforts and improved management decision making. Many middle market firms, however, run into significant challenges with effectively implementing such systems.
Based on our observations from the field, majority of ERP projects start with a high degree of excitement but run into serious implementation issues few weeks into the process. The main driver for hitting such an obstacle is lack of proper education and preparedness in regards to what level of internal resources and commitments it really takes to reap the benefits of such systems.
Education should ideally start during the system planning and selection process. With an empowered project team in place, there will be the need to put mechanisms in place for providing drip training on various ERP concepts and implications from the early phase of the project. This mechanism would get various project team members, ranging from executives to department heads and subject matter experts, start thinking about potential effort levels involved during the implementation process and how they will need to better allocate the needed resources for various solutions under consideration. Some solutions although might come across as a great fit functionality, might require internal resource levels not currently present in the organization.
Once a suitable selection has been selected, it will be time to develop an effective implementation plan. Most often, during such project planning exercises, true nature of time needed by various internal team members is either not taking into consideration or is heavily underestimated. Most project planning sessions are focused on establishing timelines for various phases of the project such as discovery, training, configuration and testing with an emphasis on implementation partner resources, schedules and budgets. Many organizations keep a heavy focus trying to minimize implementation expenses while solution vendors are trying to make sure they are adequately staffing the project from their end, while no one is really paying lots of attention to the extent of time needed by internal resources in support of the project.
In summary, when embarking on an ERP journey, whether it being looking for a new solution or improving the existing one, organizations need to take the level of internal resource needs and capabilities into consideration throughout the project continuum. Lack of proper attention to resource requirements will most likely result in achieving a significantly lower ROI from such initiatives.