365 Quotes for ERP Implementations

Brett's Hobby

Brett with his personal ERP library

I consider myself an ERP/Cloud implementation practitioner on the road to becoming a better ERP advisor and leader.  I have been on this path for 20 years and believe that I have much to share with my peers.  I also believe that I still have much to learn on this journey.  My hope is that you will partner with me in the never-ending quest for ERP implementation success.  During my ongoing research I have collected a database of over 3000 quotes on ERP-related topics (pains, success, best practices, failures, mistakes, implementations, selections).

 

 

 

# Quote Resource Author(s)
1 Often the problem lies not with the ERP concept. But in the demand for quick fixes and rapid cures to underlying structural problems. e-Business Roadmap for Success Dr. Ravi Kalakota & Marcia Robinson
2 Putting yourself on the same side as the customer is one of the best ways to avoid the massive rework caused by the customer deciding that the product you just spent 12 months on is not the right product after all. Rapid Development  Steve McConnell
3 Reliability is results driven.  Repeatability is input driven. Agile Project Management Jim Highsmith
4 One of the most important areas in enhancing the value added to clients is designing the presentation of information so that it can be readily assimilated and internalized as knowledge. Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships Ross Dawson
5 All of the work that goes into development is not adding value until the software is in the hands of the customer. Lean Software Development Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck
6 Iterations systematically reduce the trade space, grow the knowledge of the solution, and increase stakeholder buy-in.  At the same time, each iteration, or spiral, is planned to mitigate specific risks in the project. Evolutionary Process for Integrating COTS-Based Systems (EPIC) Carnegie Mellon – Software Engineering Institute
7 “Good people can make a bad system work; bad people can’t make a good system work”. The Reengineering Handbook Raymond L. Manganelli, Mark M. Klein
8 “The truth is, no organization plans to fail – rather, they fail to plan…” Control Your ERP Destiny Steven Scott Phillips
9 Many ERP implementations proceed without sufficient knowledge of the possibilities or potential in the new systems.  This relegates the design process to a discussion of repeating the current design (the only thing the client knows) or implementing a process that the consultants happen to know (limited to what the consultants have experienced). Maximize Return on Investment Using ERP Applications Worster, Weirick, Andera
10 There are literally thousands of decisions that must be made on these projects.  The project team must be empowered to make most of them.  That is one reason organizations must put their best people on these teams.

 

E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
11 Achieving early wins and optimizing user buy-in can pave the way for controlling both political and fiscal costs down the road and increase the chances of delivery project on time and on budget. Total Cost of Ownership: A strategic tool for erp planning and implementation Richard West, Stephen L. Daigle – California State University
12 In making design decisions, the entire process should be considered, not just the individual steps, in isolation.  As in many things, the business process is only as good as its weakest subprocess.  Most of the attention should be focused on the process bottlenecks. Managing the Change Process

 

David K. Carr, Kelvin J. Hard, William J. Trahant. Coopers & Lybrand Center of Excellence for Change Management
13 To integrate business processes, there is a tendency to employ a bottom-up technical integration, stitching together application components that were never intended to work together at the business level. Business Process Management – the third wave Howard Smith and Peter Fingar
14 The “Train the Trainer” Pitfall: It is not realistic to assume someone can be trained several weeks before the go-live and expect him/her to deliver quality training. Control Your ERP Destiny Steven Scott Phillips
15 Requirements creep must first be differentiated from requirements evolution (elaboration). Agile Project Management Jim Highsmith
16 Two overriding criteria that mast be present if the implementation of a COTS solution are to be successful: realistic expectations and organizational flexibility. Successful Packaged Software Implementation Christine B. Tayntor
17 Every organization that implements an ERP system is, in effect, reengineering. Modern ERP Marianne Bradford
18 Remember that if you fail to implement, who cares what the software (ERP) does? Modern ERP Marianna Bradford
19 Not all process-integration problems are technical, and not all about IT.  Integrating computer systems is not the same as integrating the business. Business Process Management – the third wave Howard Smith and Peter Fingar
20 Having an ERP system is not a luxury but a necessity. It is a must for survival in this competitive world. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
21 A major cause of this difficulty is that organizations building these systems tend either to assume that components can be simply thrown together or they fall back on the traditional engineering skills and processes with which they are familiar-skills and processes that have been shown not to work in the building of a COTS-based (ERP) system. Evolutionary Process for Integrating COTS-Based Systems (EPIC) Carnegie Mellon – Software Engineering Institute
22 The acquisition of the tools, of and by itself, will not make you proficient in their use and thus will not provide a competitive advantage. ERP: Making It Happen Thomas Wallace & Michael Kremzar
23 Inclusion of end users promotes acceptance of the solution and helps break down “us versus them” barriers.  Working together, the two groups will provide a balanced evaluation. Successful Packaged Software Implementation Christine B. Tayntor
24 “Planning can become mechanistic and succumb to a checklist mentality.” Balancing Agility and Discipline Barry Boehm, Richard Turner
25 Good design can’t fix broken business models – Jeffrey Veen Why New Systems Fail Phil Simon
26 When managers of a company select an ERP package to implement, they are “buying into” the ERP vendor’s view of a certain industry’s best practices and relying on the system to support their efforts to embrace these practices. Modern ERP Marianne Bradford
27 The gap between a person’s current knowledge level and the knowledge requirement associated with the change will directly impact the probability of success for those individuals. ADKAR – A Model for Change in Business, Government and Our Community Jeffrey M. Hiatt
28 Prototypes are generally designed to handle only the nominal cases; they aren’t expected to handle the exceptional cases. Rapid Development Steve McConnell
29 The development of knowledge is an iterative process, in which experience and lessons provide the basis for deeper understandings in ongoing feedback loops. Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships Ross Dawson
30 Organizations are now in a business environment where their success will depend on their ability to rapidly respond to changing business requirements. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
31 ERP is commonly misperceived as a computer system.  Not so.  It’s a people system made possible by the computer software and hardware. ERP: Making It Happen Thomas Wallace & Michael Kremzar
32 The starting step for business-driven implementation is the creation of business process maps. Secrets to a Successful COTS Implementation Nick Berg
33 It is better to know all the questions than some of the answers.  – James Thurber Why New Systems Fail Phil Simon
34 Ironically, customizations don’t add value by default.  By default they subtract value, at least in the short run through costs associated with analysis, design, and development. Modern ERP Marianne Bradford
35 In general, the more comprehensive the system, the more complex configuration will be. Successful Packaged Software Implementation Christine B. Tayntor
36 There is often a level of arrogance in ERP consultants who are taken with replacing existing systems, a level of arrogance that is generally counter-productive. Maximize Return on Investment Using ERP Applications Worster, Weirick, Andera
37 Companies should be careful not to automate non-value-added processes in the new system. Optimize Your ERP System: How to Avoid the Implementation Sins

 

Sage ERP X3 Whitepaper
38 You give me good people and a great process, and we’ll beat any organization with the best technology but a poor process and under motivated people. Information Week – Focus on the Process Doug Patterson, VP and CIO
39 The longer a team, large or small, goes without delivering an integrated product to a review process, the greater the potential for failure. Agile Project Management Jim Highsmith
40 If you’re using a waterfall model, forgetting something can be a costly mistake.  You don’t find out until you get down to a system testing that one of the requirements was missing or wrong. Rapid Development Steve McConnell
41 A time-tested maxim in training is always to build on what you know. Principles of the Business Rule Approach Ronald Ross
42 Standardization is the key antidote to low productivity. Lean Six Sigma for Service Michael L. George
43 Off-the-shelf solutions also do not provide a competitive edge for long – any technology your company can buy today your competitors can buy tomorrow.  Senior executive must consider a new set of questions: What business processes bring us our identity and competitive advantage? e-Business Roadmap for Success Dr. Ravi Kalakota & Marcia Robinson
44 The way to reduce the impact of defects is to find them as soon as they occur. Lean Software Development Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck
45 Tools like Enterprise Resource Planning, Lean Manufacturing, Total Quality Management, and others are all essential.  Each one alone is insufficient ERP: Making It Happen Thomas Wallace & Michael Kremzar
46 Implementations must shift from “design and build” unique products to “buy and integrate” standard products. Secrets to a Successful COTS Implementation Nick Berg
47 It is recognized that information accuracy is not a system problem, but rather a management problem. Directing the ERP Implementation Michael Pelphrey
48 Do it once, right at the source. Principles of the Business Rule Approach Ronald Ross
49 At the end of the day a computer problem is probably a business problem. e-Business Roadmap for Success Dr. Ravi Kalakota & Marcia Robinson
50 There is an inclination when implementing packaged applications to use new technologies to implement the same old ways of doing things. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
51 ERP SaaS requires greater discipline and control for success than on-premise implementations. Cloud Can Bring Out the Best of ERP Brett Beaubouef
52 There is no such thing as a stand-alone ERP module.  ERP is designed to work in concert with other modules as part of a business process. ERP Business Solution Manifesto Brett Beaubouef
53 ERP systems will not exhibit their full potential unless they are properly integrated with other enterprise software applications. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
54 Successful implementations are done internally.  In other words, virtually all of the work involved must be done by the company’s own people.  The responsibility can’t be turned over to outsiders, such as consultants. ERP: Making It Happen Thomas Wallace & Michael Kremzar
55 Chris Koch of CIO.com writes that “Blank sheet reengineering can lead to unrealistic business process designs that can’t be implemented through enterprise software. Why New Systems Fail Phil Simon
56 A common mistake made by many business leaders is to assume that by building awareness of the need for change they have also created desire. ADKAR – A Model for Change in Business, Government and Our Community Jeffrey M. Hiatt
57 Collectively employees do understand the processes, but individually, they do not. Control Your ERP Destiny Steven Scott Phillips
58 Optimizing a business function is futile and non-value-added if it is not part of a revenue/competitive business process. Maximize Return on Investment Using ERP Applications Worster, Weirick, Andera
59 Discipline creates well-organized memories, history, and experience. Balancing Agility and Discipline Barry Boehm, Richard Turner
60 Unsuccessful companies start their ERP implementation effort with automation, bypassing the critical steps of understanding and simplifying their processes.  These companies believe that automation alone will improve performance and lead to productivity gains.  Automating complex or nonvalue-added processes, however, will not increase productivity or provide measurable improvements in performance. e-Business Roadmap for Success Dr. Ravi Kalakota & Marcia Robinson
61 Teams proceed in a linear fashion with little reliable feedback – they have good ideas, but they don’t test them in the cauldron of reality.  Documents don’t work. Products do.  Effective simulations or models of the actual product. Agile Project Management Jim Highsmith
62 The Standish Group found that the number one reason that projects succeed is user involvement.  Easy access to end-users is one of the three critical success factors in rapid-development projects.  Good relationships with customers improve actual development speed. Good relations with customers improve perceived development speed. Rapid Development Steve McConnell
63 The four key characteristics or enablers of knowledge transfer in communication are: (1) Interactivity, (2) Bandwidth, (3) Structure, (4) Reusability Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships Ross Dawson
64 The underlying philosophy is that in smaller, less rigid structures, employees are closer to the customers and can respond faster. Managing the Change Process David K. Carr, Kelvin J. Hard, William J. Trahant. Coopers & Lybrand Center of Excellence for Change Management
65 Business rule solution:  Real-time delivery of business logic to knowledge workers as errors actually occur creates a seamless, never-ending, self-training environment. Principles of the Business Rule Approach Ronald Ross
66 (ERP) Service organizations are essentially big “people machines”, where having a high level of turnover is just as deadly as if a manufacturer was constantly asked to change machine parts. Lean Six Sigma for Service Michael L. George
67 The goal of an integrated enterprise is to reduce information float, that is, the time between when data is captured in one place in the system and when it becomes available and usable. e-Business Roadmap for Success Dr. Ravi Kalakota & Marcia Robinson
68 The advantage of the incremental approach is that the company can get feedback on the implementation and how it is received and possibly fin tune the implementation strategy. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
69 ERP is a philosophy for operating a business model.  If your company does not want to adapt to this philosophy, save yourself the headache and don’t pursue ERP. Directing the ERP Implementation Michael Pelphrey
70 There is no such thing as an easy implementation of an ERP project. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) The Great Gamble Ray Atkinson
71 Selecting the consultants (and an implementation methodology) is as important as selecting the (ERP) package. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
72 The big bang approach promised to reduce the integration cost in conditions of thorough and careful execution.  This method dominated early ERP implementations and it partially contributed to the higher rate of failure in its implementation. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
73 There is no such thing as a competitive ERP implementation methodology.  Only thing competitive for implementation partners are its people. Self-Quote Brett Beaubouef
74 It may take months to adjust learning curves with an organization.  A major challenge in ERP implementation is the selection of the adequate training for the end-user and education. ERP Implementation Challenges & Critical Organization Success Factors Rajeshwar Vayyavur
75 Implementing the ERP system and realizing the promised benefits are two different ball games. Implementation can be a success, but if the operational phase is not planned and organized properly with the support of all the people involved, then the promised benefits will not materialize. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
76 In the absence of knowledge and ability you can expect lower utilization throughout the organization, incorrect usage of new processes and tools, a negative impact on customers and sustained reduction productivity. ADKAR – A Model for Change in Business, Government and Our Community Jeffrey M. Hiatt
77 If the project should start to derail, consultants are the easiest to blame. Why New Systems Fail Phil Simon
78 The organizational culture and the nature of projects will be different from company to company.  Thus, two ERP implementations can never be identical. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
79 Claims of ‘proven paths’, ‘best practices’, and simplistic implementations methodologies, that fail litter the ERP landscape as each software company seeks to gain some form of advantage over its rivals. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) The Great Gamble Ray Atkinson
80 Implementation audits are necessary to keep the project on track.  Audits should be conducted to compare project results, business objectives, systems objectives, and project objectives. Directing the ERP Implementation Michael Pelphrey
81 Information and intelligence are half of the equation.  The other half is flexible and adaptive production processes that can swiftly respond to threats and/or opportunities. ERP Lessons Learned – Structured Process Wayne L. Staley
82 The rule is efficiency never trumps effectiveness. ERP Lessons Learned – Structured Process Wayne L. Staley
83 “Paralysis through analysis” in a futile attempt to develop the perfect solution. Control Your ERP Destiny Steven Scott Phillips
84 Companies need a systematic method of analyzing the impact of business processes and a more reliable way of introducing new process designs. Business Process Management – the third wave Howard Smith and Peter Fingar
85 When failure is not blamed but considered part of the learning process, people feel secure in taking bold steps outside their narrow territory, and that is when things start happening. Managing the Change Process David K. Carr, Kelvin J. Hard, William J. Trahant. Coopers & Lybrand Center of Excellence for Change Management
86 Where knowledge transfer is a key objective, project handover should be formalized, rather than just letting the engagement end. Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships Ross Dawson
87 Some people mistakenly assume that agility connotes a lack of structure, but the absence of structure, or stability, generated chaos.  Conversely, too much structure generates rigidity. Agile Project Management Jim Highsmith
88 In order to manage these changes, it is important for the implementation team to document changes that must be made to individual jobs and execute plans to help people transition to their new jobs. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
89 ERP SaaS 101: Great customer service can overcome a multitude of software sins. Self-Quote Brett Beaubouef
90 ERP 101:  How you gather business requirements sends a message. Self-Quote Brett Beaubouef
91 On time, in scope and on budget means nothing if an ERP customer is not willing to provide a reference. Self-Quote Brett Beaubouef
92 Extracting and cleansing the data from the existing system can be the single largest task in the project ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
93 The goal should not be to fail fast but to learn fast. R “Ray” Wang: An interview by Bob Morris Ray Wang
94 “Certified consultants are able to translate business requirements into software configurations far more effectively than non-certified consultants. They can also provide a much more realistic forecast of what your CRM will entail in terms of time and resource requirements. “  

Top 50 CRM Quotes

 

Jim McPeak, vice president, Envoy Corporation

95 content without the context of business process is meaningless Twitter Quote Dennis Howlett
96 End results modeling and pilot room testing with the company can eliminate surprises and uncover almost all “invisible” ghosts in the closet ERP Readiness Checklist Gerry Poe
97 ERP is a semi-finished package.  The user organization must configure to meet their needs. Enterprise Resource Planning Jyotindra Zaveri
98 A good ERP is more than just good software. It involves an institutional commitment to connecting people, processes, and resources Twitter James Young
99 The data migration phase of a project can consume up to 30% of the total project resources.  The most common flaw in data migration planning is that too few resources are invested in it Top 10 Reasons Why Systems Projects Fail Dr. Paul Dorsey
100 Implementing ERP well is a difficult, but not impossible task. It requires not only that you work hard, but that you work hard on the right things. Website ERP Focus
101 Before buying into a new cloud-based web development methodology, understand that the new development environment will not help with long-established problems characterized by poor project management. Transitioning the Enterprise to the Cloud Ed Mahon, CIO at Kent State University
102 The cost of fixing a service defect may be as small as a keystroke, but the opportunity cost downstream may be enormous, such as losing a customer to a competitor. Lean Six Sigma for Service Michael L. George
103 As an adult, I often see software projects that fail merely because the developers and managers who work on them don’t follow the instructions. Rapid Development Steve McConnell
104 But technology is not reengineering.  Reengineering changes the business processes – the way the work is done. The Reengineering Handbook Raymond L. Manganelli, Mark M. Klein
105 During a period of organizational change, a company’s reward structure should be linked to achievement of the goals mandated by the change.  The policies and procedures for rewards and censures must be made known to all employees at all levels, and must be implemented fairly and impartially. Managing the Change Process David K. Carr, Kelvin J. Hard, William J. Trahant. Coopers & Lybrand Center of Excellence for Change Management
106 Process is not a substitute for skill. Agile Project Management Jim Highsmith
107 Many of the major decisions and actions that ultimately determine whether a project is a success or a failure occur very early in the life of the project. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
108 What businesses need is not a one-time fix for individual processes but an environment that combines business and technical systems to produce processes that flex and recombine as required by changes in the market. Business Process Management – the third wave Howard Smith and Peter Fingar
109 The cost of complexity isn’t offset by what you can charge.  Complexity creates opportunities for you to fail your customer. Wall Street Journal, 9-17-2002) Gerand Arpey – American Airlines President
110 Projects that skimp on upstream activities typically have to do the same work downstream at anywhere from 10 to 100 times the cost of doing it properly in the first place (Fagan 1976; Boehm and Papaccio 1988). Rapid Development Steve McConnell
111 Decreasing variability early in the process has larger impact than decreasing variability late in the process. Lean Software Development Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck
112 ERP packaged solutions, however, come at a price.  These apps require organizations to reengineer established business practices to accommodate application constraints. e-Business Roadmap for Success Dr. Ravi Kalakota & Marcia Robinson
113 Applying knowledge is the final step that makes the knowledge valuable. Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships Ross Dawson
114 Agile methods universally need close relationships with the customer and users of the systems under development. Balancing Agility and Discipline Barry Boehm, Richard Turner
115 Process thinking is a discipline. Maximize Return on Investment Using ERP Applications Worster, Weirick, Andera
116 The less you know the more money they (consultants) make. Control Your ERP Destiny Steven Scott Phillips
117 Are the business processes that will be automated clearly understood and documented?  An adage says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” The software equivalent is less positive “If you don’t know what it is you’re automating, no system will help”. Successful Packaged Software Implementation Christine B. Tayntor
118 Deliver sooner rather than later.  It is rare to get 100% support for any project; “fence sitters” will wait to see how things turn out before giving their support. Modern ERP Marianne Bradford
119 the success or failure of a new system hinges directly on the acceptance of that system by the organization’s end users Why New Systems Fail Phil Simon
120 Although consultants may participate in testing to some extent, employees should drive the majority of testing.  Doing so maximizes knowledge transfer and readies them for real life under the new system. Why New Systems Fail Phil Simon
121 Training and education of users, customers and suppliers is an important part of adoption and satisfaction of the ERP system. Critical Success Factors in ERP Implementation Tammy Bahmanziari
122 Optimizing individual function areas generally does not result in optimization of the whole process because, within departments, only individual activities are goal oriented. Business Process Oriented Implementation of Standard Software Mathias Kirchmer
123 If you do not define the lowest level of detail required for reporting, you will not be able to design the transaction input to achieve that result. ERP Implementation Best Practices Success And Cautionary Tales Valerie Campbell CPA CGMA
124 The first comprehensive picture of whether the accounting numbers balance and make sense will arise during the month end process. ERP – The Implementation Cycle Stephen Harwood
125 Overspend on consultancy is often compensated for by a cut-back in training.  This is not helped by the fact that training costs tend to be under-estimated in the first place. ERP – The Implementation Cycle Stephen Harwood
126 Users only care about their experiences. Transitioning the Enterprise to the Cloud Ed Mahon, CIO at Kent State University
127 Data migration/conversion is always customer specific. Self-Quote Brett Beaubouef
128 When implementing a new ERP system you need to start data migration from the existing legacy business systems as soon as possible. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
129 The ability to trace requirements flow from their source (originator), through the various project phases (design, prototyping, customizations, testing, piloting, and delivery) is a requirements generation best practice. Directing the ERP Implementation Michael Pelphrey
130 Bait and switch.  This is the practice of displaying certain consultants, during the sales process, to show the sales company understands business and the ERP implementation process to ensure a successful outcome. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) The Great Gamble Ray Atkinson
131 If you want to achieve “exceptional” results, the ERP implementation project must be a top priority for senior management. Directing the ERP Implementation Michael Pelphrey
132 The cost of control obviously should not exceed the cost of inaccuracies. ERP: Making It Happen Thomas Wallace & Michael Kremzar
133 Utilize a “test first” approach.  Test scripts are written in advance of any configuration or development. Secrets to a Successful COTS Implementation Nick Berg
134 Visibility promotes accountability. Self-Quote Brett Beaubouef
135 Success is not to be found in excellent project management alone. ADKAR – A Model for Change in Business, Government and Our Community Jeffrey M. Hiatt
136 When data lacks high quality, it is useless regardless of the supporting IT infrastructure in place.  There is where data governance comes in.  Data governance involves the creation and management of the organization structures, policies and processes needed to define, control, and ensure the quality of enterprise data. Modern ERP Marianne Bradford
137 The rumor mill and grapevine are active in most companies, and it is in the project team’s best interests to preempt them by providing clear, consistent, targeted, and ongoing communications. Successful Packaged Software Implementation Christine B. Tayntor
138 In order to increase the chances that the conversion will go smoothly, do a dry run test of the conversion plan prior to the real go-live. Control Your ERP Destiny Steven Scott Phillips
139 A common mistake is to design and configure the system for only the first site and worry about the others later. Control Your ERP Destiny Steven Scott Phillips
140 The proposed process designs should always be designed within the logic of the ERP systems. Maximize Return on Investment Using ERP Applications Worster, Weirick, Andera

 

141 It’s impossible to meet expectations when a turn-key, customized solution is setting the expectation. Self-Quote Brett Beaubouef
142 Customers tend to interpret requirements broadly, and developers tend to interpret them narrowly. Rapid Development Steve McConnell
143 The training in a rapid implementation should be hands-on. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
144 Benchmarking has its limits. The Reengineering Handbook Raymond L. Manganelli, Mark M. Klein
145 Information technology provides two distinct capabilities for improving the performance of work.  The first, and more familiar, capability is automation: The second capability is information. The Reengineering Handbook Raymond L. Manganelli, Mark M. Klein
146 Interaction drives innovation.  Innovation emerges from the interaction of diverse individuals. Agile Project Management Jim Highsmith
147 In an organization undergoing change, building a resilient work force by widely disseminating the change vision and strategy and by minimizing disruption is essential. Managing the Change Process David K. Carr, Kelvin J. Hard, William J. Trahant. Coopers & Lybrand Center of Excellence for Change Management
148 Business process redesign must incorporate management process redesign. Personal Quote Brett Beaubouef
149 The success of the Go Live day is measured by the lack of problems. ERP – The Implementation Cycle Stephen Harwood
150 One guiding tenet is every present: any change we administer should add more value, cost less, or deliver services more rapidly. Transitioning the Enterprise to the Cloud Ed Mahon, CIO at Kent State University
151 No company, no manager is sufficiently brilliant to think about all of the complexities and complications inherent in a cross-functional ERP project. Mission Critical – Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems Thomas Davenport
152 With ERP you always implement across a business process, regardless of the product scope.  #stopsilothinking. Personal Quote Brett Beaubouef
153 If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Personal Quote Derek Bok
154 One dollar of prevention spent on fail proofing strategies can be worth several thousand dollars of expensive fixes and rehabilitation. ERP A-Z: Implementer’s Guide for Success Travis Anderegg
155 You can succeed with any ERP methodology.  You can fail with any ERP methodology.  The key is correctly applying the methodology. Personal Quote Brett Beaubouef
156 An information system only has value when people use it correctly. ERP – The Implementation Cycle Stephen Harwood
157 The best people for the project are likely to be those who have the least free time, since they are already in key positions. ERP – The Implementation Cycle Stephen Harwood
158 Train and then re-train: The best approach to training is to do it several times. Once is not enough. Three recommend points of training are follows are: On Design, Before test, Post go-live. Top 5 Recommendations to Ensure Your ERP Implementation is Successful Sandeep Walia
159 Digital Darwinism is unkind to those who wait. R “Ray” Wang: An interview by Bob Morris Bob Morris
160 A company may employ the most sophisticated software in the world, but unless information is managed, timely, accurate, and complete, the system serves little purpose. ERP Lessons Learned – Structured Process Wayne L. Staley
161 Have successful project managers who are capable of anticipating what can go wrong. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
162 ERP is first an attitude; second, a process, and only third, a set of tools. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
163 Using an ERP system simply to run things in the same way as before implementation is a guarantee of disappointment. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) The Great Gamble Ray Atkinson
164 Deferring decision(s) will cause significant risks to the (ERP) project success. Directing the ERP Implementation Michael Pelphrey
165 There are limits to how much change an organization and its end users can stomach at once. Why New Systems Fail Phil Simon
166 How can one manage change if one does not understand exactly what is changing. ADKAR – A Model for Change in Business, Government and Our Community Jeffrey M. Hiatt
167 One means of ensuring that a fresh approach will be taken to the problem is to eliminate all previously existing reports. Mission Critical – Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems Thomas Davenport
168 If an organization does not have process owners then they are not process oriented. Personal Quote Brett Beaubouef
169 Plans are worthless, but planning is everything Personal Quote General Dwight Eisenhower
170 The more the consultants know about the company the better they will be equipped to provide good advice. ERP A-Z: Implementer’s Guide for Success Travis Anderegg
171 Resistance, in many cases, is simply a sign of a lack of communication. ERP A-Z: Implementer’s Guide for Success Travis Anderegg
172 Whilst technology is a great enabler, it is not a panacea in itself. ERP – The Implementation Cycle Stephen Harwood
173 Slow processes are prone to poor quality. Lean Six Sigma for Service Michael L. George
174 Rapid implementation cannot be done with a massive project team. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
175 Rapid Implementations: The data cleanup must start early in the project for the organization to be prepared for the data conversion. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
176 In order to do rapid implementations, trade-offs must be made. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
177 The longer the timeframe and the further apart the milestones in a project, the harder it is to create a sense of urgency. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
178 Customers define value. Agile Project Management Jim Highsmith
179 Adaptive approaches are good when your requirements are uncertain or volatile. Agile Project Management Agile Software Development
180 Prototypes also provide early feedback on design problems and customer preferences. Lean Software Development Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck
181 Iterations provide a dramatic increase in feedback over sequential software development, thus providing much broader communication between customers/users and developers. Lean Software Development Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck
182 There must be awareness throughout the organization of the importance of scope management. E-Business and ERP Murrell G. Shields
183 Ambition can be as powerful a motivator as pain and fear. The Reengineering Handbook Raymond L. Manganelli, Mark M. Klein
184 An individual’s gain or loss of power within an organization also has a tremendous effect on the change management process. Managing the Change Process David K. Carr, Kelvin J. Hard, William J. Trahant. Coopers & Lybrand Center of Excellence for Change Management
185 Rules build on facts, and facts build on concepts as expressed by terms. Principles of the Business Rule Approach Ronald Ross
186 The user community is frequently the largest variable in the ERP implementation. ERP Information at the Speed of Reality Wayne L Staley
187 The more comprehensive the package, the greater the expense and complexity. ERP Information at the Speed of Reality Wayne L Staley
188 Integrating separate ERP systems is hard.  Each ERP system wants to be the master. Personal Quote Brett Beaubouef
189 Competitive advantage comes not from systems, but from doing something better than competitors. Mission Critical – Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems Thomas Davenport
190 Business factors create the need for technical functionality; technical limitations create business risk. Mission Critical – Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems Thomas Davenport
191 There is a misconception that ERP is only for big companies. ERP Demystified Alexis Leon
192 Without change, performance would never improve. Modern ERP Marianne Bradford
193 There is a misguided belief that experienced consultants face no learning curves with the software. Control Your ERP Destiny Steven Scott Phillips
194 Not all process-integration problems are technical, and not all about IT.  Integrating computer systems is not the same as integrating the business. Business Process Management – the Third wave Howard Smith and Peter Fingar
195 Software programmers often think they have better solutions than users. ERP Information at the Speed of Reality Wayne L Staley
196 Due diligence may feel like a waste of time and money, but weighed against the high cost of failure, it is imperative. ERP Information at the Speed of Reality Wayne L Staley
197 Nothing is more irritating than being forced to serve the system instead of the system serving the customer. ERP Information at the Speed of Reality Wayne L Staley
198 Be open to new ways to accomplish the same goal. The Executive Guide to Implementing Accounting Software Ken E. Sebahar
199 Every single software implementation project is unique. The Executive Guide to Implementing Accounting Software Ken E. Sebahar
200 Cloud ERP: Good, fast, and cheap.  Don’t expect all three! Personal Quote Brett Beaubouef

 

ERP Project 101: Organizational Fit Gap

I think we can all agree that organizational fit is a key consideration for successful ERP selections and implementations.  However, mention the phase “fit/gap” or “gap analysis” and most people will fixate on the ERP software.  There are several examples of functional/software fit-gap templates/activities but very few organizational fit-gap templates/guides.  The goal of this blog is to shed some light on this very important activity.

 What is an Organizational Fit/Gap?

An organizational fit/gap analysis is a comparison of the customer’s existing organizational model that supports the business to the defined organizational model supported (or assumed) by the ERP system.  Consider the following illustration: 

Org Gap Analysis

Organizational Fit Gap Analysis

If you do not know what is changing in the organization then how can you manage organizational change?  Too often I see ERP projects only focus on the “To Be” model and expect business users to figure out how to transition. I have also observed that customers see organizational change activities as an opportunity to reduce implementation costs by performing the activity themselves – regardless of their capabilities. 

In order to effectively conduct an organizational fit/gap analysis there are two key sources of information that are required: 

Information   Source Comments
Customer’s Organizational Structure and Business   Processes A   majority of peers and customers believe that this exercise is a non-value-add activity given the imminent organizational change that will occur as part of   the ERP implementation.
ERP Business Process Maps Consider   ERP business process maps as a demonstration by the ERP vendor to show how   their ERP software supports business processes.

Just as you perform a formal Fit/Gap analysis on ERP functionality you should also consider performing a formal organization Fit/Gap analysis as illustrated below:

Organizational Gap Analysis for ERP

Template to identify possible organizational changes based upon predefined ERP roles/responsibilities

An organizational fit/gap analysis should be performed during the ERP selection stage and refined during the early design stages of the ERP implementation.  Do not limit yourself to performing this exercise only once.  The analysis performed during an organizational Fit/Gap will drive future decisions and implementation activities.

What Activities should an Organizational Fit/Gap Influence?

The organization fit/gap analysis will have a direct impact on your organization change management plan and communication plan.  In addition, this analysis will provide insight into user security requirements.  Utilizing this approach will highlight how well the predefined ERP user security profile(s) align to the organization’s existing users.  As a general rule, the majority of predefined ERP workflows are based upon predefined user security roles; therefore keep in mind that ERP user security profile changes may require additional testing for related ERP workflows. 

Why Do We Need a Formal Organizational Fit/Gap?

Conducting a formal organizational fit/gap enables you to quantify the level of change.  Instead of taking a broad stroke at managing change you can provide a focused effort to accomplishing your objective. Remember that people are the most important component of a business solution.  Given the importance I believe that formalizing this activity is worth the investment.

Summary

Predefined ERP implementation tools, templates, roles can provide limited value to an implementation.  Too often the ERP market wrongly perceives that these predefined components result in faster implementations.  This misconception is most pronounced in the ERP SaaS/Cloud arena.  At the end of the day, an ERP implementation should only move as fast as the customer can handle the change.  Conducting a formal organizational fit/gap can enable the customer to adapt faster by focusing on the specific changes required for success.

Troubleshooting ERP Projects

During my career in ERP consulting I  had several opportunities to be involved in deployment of emerging ERP products and services.  As with any innovation rollout there are challenges to overcome and I had to learn how to quickly triage ERP projects for success.  Troubleshooting an ERP project is more than just performing an assessment – it’s implementing a realistic action plan and making it work for all stakeholders involved.   Following is a tested and proven approach to jumpstart stalled ERP projects.

Method

Similar to a Forest Fire Hotshot I typically got dropped into a “hot” ERP project that had stalled or had serious show stoppers.   Time is always against you.  However, you must first put in the effort to objectively understand the situation and establish your credibility:

Troubleshooting ERP Challenges

Troubleshooting ERP Projects

Too often I see project managers jump into the details (WBS, Risks, Issues, CPI, SPI, Cost) without first understanding the context.  You cannot be perceived as a busy body looking for who dropped the ball.  Vendors, Customers, and System Implementers are made up of people.  People make mistakes – especially me.  People don’t care what you know until they know you care.   It will be people – not technology – that will play the biggest role in getting the ERP project back on track.

Before hitting the ground running you first need to do your homework.  As part of an ERP assessment it is important to review the key project artifacts generated and updated throughout the project.

Key Project Documents

Key Project Documents

This is the easy part and it is usually a simple process to review and evaluate.  If a project scope statement does not exist or is not well-defined then chances are this absence is contributing to the problem.  Creating or refining the project scope statement is a very small part of the action plan you need to execute.  Now, let’s turn our attention to the implicit artifacts and information that are harder to identify and resolve.

Understand the Underlying Drivers

ERP vendors,  System Implementers (SIs), and Customers want their ERP implementation to be successful.  Yet there are fundamental drivers for each stakeholder  appears to be in contradiction.  Consider the following illustration:

ERP Stakeholder Implicit Drivers

ERP Stakeholder Implicit Drivers

Understanding the fundamental drivers of your stakeholders enable you to relate, empathize and align the efforts of all project stakeholders.  It is important to note that you need the efforts from ALL stakeholders for success – regardless of who is at fault.  I humbly submit that it is extremely rare when a single stakeholder is responsible or is at fault.  On the flip side it is even more extreme to have a single stakeholder solely responsible for saving the day.

Strategy & Execution

It is a straight-forward exercise to develop a plan for troubleshooting an ERP project but providing a plan by itself does not add business value.  How you execute and implement the plan is more important than the plan itself.  Many of my project management colleagues may not agree with my assessment but I am  convinced that this is true.  Following are my guiding principles for ERP troubleshoot efforts:

  1. Create quick wins.  Triage is required to stop the bleeding.  You need to quickly seize the initiative  and  create positive events.
  2. Attack problems from multiple angles.  If you have one approach get stonewalled you still have other ongoing activities to continue the march forward.  This means that you have contingency plans in flight.  Be aggressive.
  3. Triage is not the time for lessons learned.  There will be opportunity for reflection after the immediate problem(s) have been addressed.
  4. Problem solving is not about assigning blame.  You need every individual to have laser focus on resolving the problem and not on how to protect them own interests.
  5. All stakeholders must be willing to stretch outside their comfort zone.       Customer and vendors limit their response based upon contractual arrangements.  Partners think outside the box for mutual success.
  6. The answer lies within the team.  Many times the greatest impact you can have is to enable the  key players to recognize the solution. Communication skills will be vital to your success:
Communication Skills

Survival Skill – Communications

Summary

There is a fair amount of information available in books, articles, and blogs related to avoiding ERP problems and I agree that you should take reasonable steps to minimize known ERP problems.  However, I believe that it is prudent to be prepared for the “unknown unknowns” that always occur with any ERP project.  Troubleshooting ERP projects require process knowledge of project management fundamentals, problem solving techniques, and most importantly – perseverance.  Just like the rudder steers the ship, finding small success(es) can get your ERP project back on the path for success.

SaaS ERP is not a push button solution

SaaS ERP is the latest effort in the ERP industry to provide a rapid, cost-effective solution for customers who want an enterprise solution.  A SaaS deployment model does provide the potential for greater value realization; however, the value proposition is dependent upon appropriate expectations and implementation approach.  The purpose of the following article is to provide insight to ensure customers make realistic and informed decisions.

General Expectations for SaaS ERP

I firmly believe that one of the key reasons for failed ERP implementations is that expectations were not correctly established and managed throughout the implementation.   Consider the following:

Common Expectations of SaaS ERP

Common Expectations of SaaS ERP

 

  1. Cheap:  The customer does not need to make a huge expenditure to implement and utilize.
  2. Fast: Answer a few questions and have an up and running software in weeks.
  3. Flexible:  Business users can make changes.  Minimize IT involvement.
  4. Intuitive:  Quick to learn and easy to navigate.

We can all agree that the above targets are worthy goals of any ERP solution.  However, this is only part of the story.   The next section discusses the efforts required to achieve the goals listed.

Desired Results of SaaS ERP

To better understand ERP SaaS expectations we need to elaborate on the desired results that should be realized by customers. 

Elaborating on SaaS ERP Expectations

Elaborating on SaaS ERP Expectations

 

Some of the desired results are directly addressed by the SaaS model but the majority of results are addressed either by (a) the ERP software architecture or (b) the delivery model.   Example:  SaaS ERP does not require an initial outlay of funding for capital expenditures for hardware and related infrastructure.  SaaS ERP eliminates the need for a separate effort for ERP software installation and certification.  Yet, it is important to remember that ERP software installation represents at most 5% of the total time required to implement an ERP solution.  Therefore the SaaS model by itself does not have a dramatic impact on accelerating ERP implementations.

SaaS ERP Realities

Allow me to share some observations I have regarding the ERP SaaS model that may not appear to be readily evident:

SaaS ERP Realities

Let’s take one of the above desired results to elaborate on the above diagram.  A goal for SaaS ERP is to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  One of the key ERP design strategies is to enable business users to tailor the functionality to meet requirements without having IT to make a costly customization.  However, it is important to understand the shift of effort from IT to functional users.  There may be a reduction in the effort or a change in the nature of the work but the effort is still required.  There is no “push button” to eliminate this work. 

For another example let’s take the ERP value stream.  ERP vendors can create additional value to customers by providing new and enhanced functionality.   The leading SaaS ERP delivery model should provide a 3:1 ratio increase in the software release cycle.   Yet, it is important to realize that more frequent ERP software releases require additional testing and deployment (organizational change) work.  It is interesting to note that many of the leading SaaS ERP vendors do provide an out-of-the-box testing automation solution.  Again, the customer will experience a shift from technical to functional effort.

 Summary

Sorry if I burst your bubble, but I rather have an informed customer that will have reasonable expectations versus a customer with unrealistic expectations.  SaaS ERP is one of many delivery models that ERP vendors offer to customers.  While it is true that SaaS ERP provide customers with new options not available previously, it is not a slam dunk for all customers.  Developing the customer’s use case and understanding all technical and organizational impacts will better ensure an informed decision is reached.

The Next Evolution of ERP: Adaptive ERP

With the initial release of ERP, one of the key “game changers” was the ability of business users to access data and generates reports without direct IT involvement. This empowerment of the business user had a significant impact on business agility. Today, we continue to see ERP vendors focus on providing business-friendly tools for reporting and analysis.  Yet, I can see a new evolution brewing in the ERP industry what I like to call “Adaptive ERP” where business users can perform on-demand actions to meet business changes real-time.  In the next sections we discuss the key capabilities of Adaptive ERP and a practical assessment of where the ERP industry is today.

What is Adaptive ERP?

Adaptive ERP would enable business users to configure, simulate, test, and implement business technology changes with limited traditional IT services (ex. software development).  Predictive analysis will become a reality.  Logical thinking and search methods will be more valuable than technical syntax. Information will become context and even transactional specific.   Following is an illustration of the major domains that Adaptive ERP should address:

Adaptive ERP

Conceptual Model of Adaptive ERP

Domain:  Logical Development

Too often a change in the business model requires an IT development effort.  Any competent IT development will require the following activities:

  • Business requirements gathering
  • Technical design
  • Technical construction
  • Unit, System testing

In general, the greater the number of individuals involved in a project the greater the coordination/communication effort resulting in a greater time commitment.  Enabling business to become agile will require an evolutionary change in how ERP supports business activities.  However, simply removing people out of the equation is not the answer.  What is required is providing business owners the tools and experience required to become more self-sufficient.

Logical Development

Logical Development for ERP

Following is a brief list of the capabilities required to enable business users to perform logical development

  • Business models must be defined as metadata within the ERP software.
  • Business rules are separate from technical components and are exposed directly to business users.
  • Business scenarios are defined separate from the respective business models. Business exceptions are variations to a specific business scenario.
  • Business users should have the ability to run simulations in production (i.e. parallel testing)
  • ERP must provide automated testing support
    • Automated unit and system testing (self-learning via business model metadata).
    • Automated business process test scripting.
    • Test scripts are a results-oriented view of business requirements.
    • Automated impact analysis with logical development change.
  • Business users should be trained in logical and structured thinking.  There has to be a prescribed process to effectively conduct knowledge transfer with the ERP software.  Business users should be able to directly educate (i.e. configure) the ERP software on how they run their business.

Remember that a key value proposition for ERP is to reduce software development.  This is not an argument to eliminate IT but rather to refocus IT from tactical support to strategic activities.  IT will play a very important role in enabling business users in logical and structured thinking.

Domain: Predictive Analysis

Today, there is interest in Big Data and Enterprise 2.0 technologies but they are not the final destination.

Predictive Analysis

Predictive Analysis

At the end of the day, business decisions have an impact on business results. Enterprise 2.0 and Big Data are supportive technologies.  Enterprise 2.0 focuses on the utilization of Web 2.0 standards in developing collaborative technologies like blogs, RSS, social bookmarking, social networking and wikis.  Enterprise 2.0 emphasizes employee, partner and consumer collaboration for creating knowledge.  Big Data is the next evolution in Knowledge Management where it is now viable to manage and utilize both structured and unstructured data.   However, the key challenge remains – how to effectively leverage all the information we are collecting.  We need to flip the following time paradigm:

Data Analysis Cycle

Business Information Cycle

Changing this paradigm will require inference engines that streamline analysis generation and enable predictive analysis.  Following is a brief list of capabilities that will support predictive analysis:

  • Case-Based Inference will provide recommendations based upon data and transactional patterns.
  • Rules-Based Inference will provide tactical, operational decision support based upon standard business principles.
  • Big Data will facilitate the assimilation of structured and unstructured data to identify patterns and provide operational context.
  • Collaborative ERP 2.0 will support collaborative discussions and provide transactional context for decision support.

Advancements like this in analytics will enable business users to focus on the value-add activities of reviewing analysis and drawing conclusions for effective business decisions. 

Domain: Open

Whether or not you are sold on open source ERP,  you have to admire the new paradigm and simplicity that open source ERP promotes.  As we continue to see the consumerization of legacy ERP technologies, the market will continue to drive individual user enablement and vendor independence.  Following is a brief list of capabilities that will promote a more open ERP industry

  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)will enableemployees are able to bring their own computing devices – such as smartphones, laptops and PDAs – to the workplace for use and connectivity on the corporate network.
  • BPMN compliance will ensure that ERP business process definitions will agree with business process definition standards outlined in the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) model.  This model is governed by the Object Management Group (OMG).  In my humble opinion, the OMG is in the best position to define a global standard for business process models.  This advancement will be a key enabler to the holy grail of true enterprise system interoperability.  This is no small task and will require significant market demand to promote this standardization initiative.
  • Collaborative Shared Development is a key benefit of an open community.  Sometimes it takes a village of developers to support an ERP solution.  Today, I can go to the Apple App Store to purchase an app for my iPhone.  In the future, we should see an ERP App Store when a customer or an individual business user can download an object (software, report, role-based feature) to customize their ERP experience.
  • Open Partner Network.  The more integrated your ERP is within your business value chain (suppliers, vendors, customers, providers) the more powerful your ERP system can be.  I expect we will see the ERP market put more value in delivered integrations with partner, supplier, and provider networks over software product features.  SOA will be a key enabler for making open partner networks a reality.

Openness is about creating flexibility and the freedom for a customer to respond to the changing business environment in the most effective manner.

Domain: Viable Solutions

A profound lesson I learned the hard way is that regardless of how many features and products an ERP vendor can provide (even for free); it will all be all in vain if the software is unmanageable.  It is unacceptable that a customer has to pay triple and even quadruple the original software cost to maintain their ERP investment.  Some may argue that ERP vendors have not acted in the best interest of their customers by building features upon features without providing tools to significantly reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

Simplifying Technical Support

Simplifying Technical Support

Following is a brief list of capabilities that will significantly reduce TCO:

  • Automated testing (self-learning tools).
  • Automated master data management (information awareness tools).
  • Eliminate the need for multiple instances.
  • Assimilated, holistic solutions– loosely coupled point systems will not work and result in greater costs and possible failures.
    • Minimize the technical stack.
  • Higher Quality Assurance
    • Upgrades/Software Maintenance releases included the test cases and results performed by the ERP vendor.
  • Implementation Wizards
  • Support for Hybrid Deployments
    • Software architecture can support either single or multiple tenants.
    • On-Premise, Hosted, Public Cloud, Private Cloud for either applications and/or data.
      • Example:  Customer decides to store mission-critical data on-premise and internal data on the public cloud.

It should no longer be acceptable that an ERP customer has to totally shoulder additional implementation and upgrade costs.  This is not indicative of a true partnership.

Challenge to ERP Industry for Adaptive ERP

Today, we continue to see a consolidation of the ERP industry.  With these acquisitions some ERP vendors provide some limited capabilities of Adaptive ERP but these capabilities are spread across multiple software products and platforms.  An ERP solution is only as strong as its weakest link (integration).  More technologies loosely coupled together usually mean (a) more IT resources, (b) additional points of failure, and (c) a more complicated experience for business users. We have witnessed where ERP software has become bloated with features upon features without any logical progression.  ERP customers are forced to deal and pay for unused features resulting in more frustration than simplicity.

Many top-tier ERP software solution packages use a systems configuration concept to set up the business environment for some time but please allow me to challenge the industry a little more. I agree that several ERP software packages provides configuration concept yet there is no clear decrease in implementation schedule (ex. SAP) or cost savings associated with this approach because the currently exposed configurations do not change that frequently (ex. Earning Codes, GL Accounts). Objects like business rules, scenarios, and exceptions change more frequently. This is a challenge for some ERP software (ex. PeopleSoft) where many business rules are encapsulated within the technical object. Pre-configurations are only a beginning – it adds value in the short-term but ERP is a long-term proposition. In my humble opinion, the key is to expose the underlying business model to business users for greater real-time interaction.

Also, there are Master Data Management (MDM) solutions available to support a tactical level of data governance by removing duplicates, standardizing data and, incorporating rules to eliminate incorrect data from entering the ERP system.  For Adaptive ERP, MDM must advance in what I call “information awareness”.   Information awareness means two things (1) MDM is able to automatically detect and define new information sources within the enterprise ecosystem via data polling, and (2) MDM is able to determine how data is used.  These capabilities will be key enablers for automated impact analysis.

What we need to have is a mature, open, holistic solution where all the individual software platforms are assimilated into a robust, uniformed solution.  This is not simply building a dashboard that brings together two separate user sessions together or an orchestration level that adds another level of technology abstraction and performance overhead.  A viable solution is a manageable solution.

Summary

I’m a firm believer in performing non-competitive business activities as competent and cheap as possible.  In that end I am a firm believer in ERP.  However, the ERP industry has come up short in the areas of total cost of ownership and business adaptability.  Many on both sides of the aisle have wrongly concluded that more software features and increasing the technical stack are the answers for making ERP adaptable.  Putting more power in the hand of business users is the strategic answer for business agility.  People are the most important and adaptive component of a business solution.

Developing a Business Case for ERP Customizations

To customize or not to customize – that is the question which continues to be a source of contention and confusion.  On one hand, customization(s) can result in an expensive ERP solution.  However, ERP software enhancements can provide a competitive advantage or cost reduction that is customer-specific.  The challenge is not in the question itself but rather how the answer is justified.  Unfortunately, many business cases for ERP customizations are either too short-sighted or do not fully comprehend the impacts to the ERP investment.  In the next section we will discuss the key components required for an ERP business case for customization(s).

 Business Case Overview

 Following is a business case template I’ve used as a consultant to justify ERP customizations. 

Valuation and Justification for ERP customization

Business Case Format

Let’s briefly discuss each section in greater detail.  The Problem (or Opportunity) section should clearly define the issue(s) as well as the target audience who will benefit from addressing the problem.  The problem section should also explain the compelling reason (s) why the problem should be addressed.  The Solution section should speak directly to solving the problem or addressing the opportunity.  The solution section must include the method(s) used to validate that the proposed solution solved the defined problem.

The Approach section details the viable methods available to implement the solution.  The approach section should not be a theoretically exploration of all possible options.  Too often I have observed where unrealistic approaches were defined, which did more to confuse decision makers rather than create a focused, compelling argument.  In general, I typically provide three approaches when pitching an ERP customization:

  • Full Customization (Extreme)
  • Partial Customization (Middle of the Road)
  • Out Of The Box (OOTB) (Extreme)

Following is a generic example of comparing the above options:

Possible Approaches for ERP Gaps

Possible Approaches for ERP Gaps

Moving back to the business case, the Risk Assessment section outlines the risk(s) associated with each approach option defined in the previous section as well as identifying the risk(s) of doing nothing to address the problem/opportunity.  The final section is the Value Analysis section.  The key challenge I have noted is that short-term value methods (examples: benefit/cost analysis, payback period) are used to support a decision with a long-term impact.   In the next section we will discuss the unique considerations one must address in developing a valid ERP software customization value analysis.

Value Assessment Considerations for ERP

In addition to the short-term costs associated with ERP customizations one must consider the following areas to calculate the long-term costs:

  1. Impact to Upgrade and Maintenance:  What is the impact that the customization will have to the ERP maintenance and upgrade process.  Is the software customization intrusive? – Meaning is it an add-on enhancement or a fundamental change to how the ERP software works?  The more intrusive the customization is the greater the costs required for ERP support and upgrades.   Frequent ERP upgrades are a key strategy for driving additional business value.
  2. Impact to IT Resource Sourcing:  The more you customize the ERP software the more customer-specific ERP knowledge an IT resource requires to provide an effective level of service.  Additional customizations will have a shrinking effect on the IT resource pool and may have the potential of driving up related IT support costs. 
  3. Cumulative Impact to the IT Footprint:  Too often we consider customizations individually and not part of the total ERP software changes made.   A field change here or a new application page may not seem like a big deal but you must remember that you must support everything you customize.

The above areas will ensure that you generate a holistic set of information for an informed decision.  Too often, short-sighted decisions are made to customize ERP without completely understanding the potential impacts.  The next section will shed more light on some of the less obvious risks associated with not having a holistic business case.

 Risks of not developing an effective ERP customization business case

Incomplete information results in incomplete decisions and more importantly – missed expectations and business results.  Following are a few of the key risks generated from over-customizing your ERP software:

  1. Greater operational costs:  There is an additional cost associated with customizations –typically required from the IT organization to support and manage the software changes. 
  2. Slower deployments of technology:  With additional technology dependencies generated by ERP customizations come the additional planning and testing activities required to deploy new ERP functionality.
  3. Lost opportunity costs:  This is an area that is typically overlooked in customization value analysis.  It is more than just comparing one ERP customization to another but also identifying the potential reduction in flexibility ERP software can provide to the business. 

Summary

ERP is a long-term proposition and requires a long-term business case and value analysis for any change in the ERP’s value proposition.   Too often decisions on ERP customizations are based upon partial information and are made in isolation.   ERP is only one component of a business solution.  Business processes and People have a greater impact on business results. 

Key Drivers for Business Results

Key Drivers for Business Results

Granted, the full impact of a customization decision may not be fully appreciated in the short-term but poor decisions will build into a formidable wave that will keep you from experiencing value from your ERP investment.

 

Business pain can be good for ERP

Instinctively, we all try to avoid or minimize pain.  This is true for individuals as well as business organizations.  However, in our attempts to reduce pain, we too often focus on eliminating the symptoms without addressing the underlying root cause.  We may feel temporary relieve but our short-term decisions only lead us to a point were the pain resurfaces and the available options to address the pain become more limited and costly.   In the next sections, we will discuss how to address business pain by effectively utilizing your existing ERP investment.

Step #1 – Take an appropriate problem solving approach

Following is a standard problem-solving approach as defined in the Project Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

Root cause analysis

Root Cause Analysis

Seems easy enough!  The challenge I’ve observed is that many organizations do not execute the problem-solving process effectively.  To compound this challenge many customers believe that having an ERP system somehow accelerates or simplifies the problem-solving process.  Following are some of the common misconceptions that cause ERP customers to miss the mark in solving problems.

Missing the Mark

Missing the Mark

The misperceptions and inappropriate expectations surrounding ERP can cloud your view of the real problem.  However, the greater hindrances to effective problem solving are the views that (a) pain is bad, and (b) quick-fixes are more desirable (demanded) than permanent solutions to business problems. For an ERP perspective, the typical end-result to quick fixes will be more customizations.  Greater customizations result in less flexibility and more costs. If unchecked, your organization can build band aid fixes on top of one another,which may ultimately result in a catastrophic event.  The key to eliminating this quick-fix mentality is to change the perspective of how pain is viewed.

Step #2 – See business pain as an opportunity

My daughter loves to play volleyball.  Recently, she has experienced some pain with her ankles as well as experienced some falls that caused my wife and me to have concerns.  I suspect that I’m a little over-sensitive given that our daughter has Type-1 diabetes.  We took our daughter to see a sports physician specialist to identify the problem.  “Your daughter has a good problem to have.,” said the specialist, “she is still growing!  Your daughter is still figuring out how to coordinate her changing limbs.”  Whew!  What at relief yet what a good life lesson.  Too often, organizations can’t see past the present pain. We focus only on the symptoms (negatives) without looking for the opportunities (positives).

Many times, IT organizations are motivated by addressing problems by taking a “triage” or ‘fire-fighting” mentality.  IT performance metrics can support this mentality if the focus is only on cycle-time and response-time metrics.  Don’t get me wrong, if a production system goes offline unexpectedly, you can bet that a quick response is warranted.  A red flag to look for is when ERP support problems are seen as an inconvenience rather than an opportunity.  This can be especially frustrating to IT when the problem is a recurring issue.  When viewed as a hindrance there is the natural human tendency to deal with the issue as quickly as possible to move on to the next problem. To get out of the above support rut  first we need to eliminate or minimize reoccurring problems through effective problem solving.  Once performed the IT organization can spend the time to evaluate viable options for greater ERP value generation.

Step #3 – Use business pain as a driver to increase ERP value generation

During my career as an ERP consultant, one of the key challenges I faced with every one of my customers was how to drive additional value from their ERP investment.  As I did additional analysis, a common theme across my customers was that they did not realize the rapid deployment of new ERP functionality.  Based upon my experience, I have identified the top three strategies that support long-term, rapid delivery from ERP.

Strategies for Rapid Delivery via ERP

Rapid Deployment Strategies for ERP

As seen from the illustration above the single largest driver for long-term, rapid delivery of addition value from a customer’s ERP investment is frequent upgrades. However, in the effort to address tactical business pain quickly IT organizations built customizations as quick fixes instead of allowing these opportunities to drive the value proposition for an ERP upgrade.  It is important that the internal IT organization resist the temptation for a quick win and illuminate the IT roadmap that will provide the opportunity for greater value from their ERP investment.  In the next section, we will briefly discuss the price to be paid if one uses ERP as a means to a quick fix.

 The price of ERP quick fixes

There is a price associated with every decision made.  In the case of ERP, the short-term gains will eventually result in limiting your ERP strategy.  ERP quick fixes are typically implemented as customizations.  Customizations require a greater level of support from the customer’s IT organization (because ERP vendors do not support customizations).  IT spends more time performing support activities (indirect business value) versus building new enhancements (direct business value).

Second, customizations add to the upgrade effort.  Third – and most important – performing quick fixes send a signal to customers that counters the basic value proposition of ERP (packaged) software.  The price of ERP quick fixes may be small at first but they will have a compounding effect on the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

 Summary

Pain is the way our bodies (and organizations) communicate that something is wrong.  It defines the gap between where we are and where we want to be.  Effective root-cause analysis is the first step to correctly diagnoses the pain and identify viable solutions.  ERP can play a positive or sometimes negative role in addressing business pains.  The key to understand how to correctly apply ERP technology to transform business pains into opportunities for greater business value.

%d bloggers like this: