200 Quotes for ERP Implementations

Brett's Hobby
My Little Hobby

Not sure if I’m wiser but as part of my knowledge sharing efforts, I would like to share 200+ quotes from over 50 books/resources that have influenced/guided my ERP journey.  Nothing beats “hands-on” experience but trust you may find some value.  These quotes are grouped into the following areas:

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FYI:  I’m working on gathering 200 quotes.  Not there yet but I’m still reading and exploring.  Education never ends.

Requirements Management

“For any organization there are just a few key processes that handle the core business.  All the other processes support the key processes on a certain aspect.” ERP: Tools, Techniques, and Applications, Carol Ptak, Eli Schragenheim.

“To maximize a revenue-supporting process is illogical as it will take effort away from revenue-generating business processes.” Bill Curtis.

“Rules always cost the business something.  This cost must be balanced against business risks.” Principles of the Business Rule Approach, Ronald Ross.

“Reduce complexity through standardization.” Lean Six Sigma for Service, Michael L. George.

“Organizations with broken systems typically suffer from broken business processes and vice versa.” Why New Systems Fail, Phil Simon.

“The cost of control obviously should not exceed the cost of inaccuracies.” ERP: Making It Happen, Thomas Wallace & Michael Kremzar.

“Testing is the only way to ensure that you have satisfied all of the requirements for accurate data.” Consider, Select & Implement an ERP system, O’Sullivan, Rico, Goldensohn.

“Making the effort to understand your customer’s expectations can save a lot of friction and extra work.” Rapid Development, Steve McConnell.

“A key aspect of enriching mental models is bringing assumptions to light.  People’s assumptions are their blind spots.” Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, Ross Dawson.

“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.

“Adaptive approaches are good when your requirements are uncertain or volatile.” Agile Project Management, Agile Software Development.

“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.

“The cost of complexity isn’t offset by what you can charge.  Complexity creates opportunities for you to fail your customer.” Gerand Arpey – President of American Airlines.

“Customers tend to interpret requirements broadly, and developers tend to interpret them narrowly.”, Rapid Development, Steve McConnell.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“Paralysis through analysis” is a futile attempt to develop the perfect solution.  Control Your ERP Destiny. Steven Scott Phillips.

“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.

“Requirements creep must first be differentiated from requirements evolution (elaboration).” Agile Project Management. Jim Highsmith.

“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.

“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.

“There is no direct relationship between a company size and the complexity of its (ERP) software requirements.”, Control Your ERP Destiny. Steven Scott Phillips.

“One of the advantages, but also criticisms, of ERP systems is that they impose a standardized way of conducting business processes.” , Modern ERP: Select, Implement, and Use Today’s Advanced Business Systems, Marianne Bradford.

“By focusing more on issues and problems and less on requirements, a smart consultant can identify design opportunities in ERP to reduce organizational waste.”, Selected Articles on Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) – Vol 1, VK Ramaswamy.

Results-Oriented

 “How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” Bill Gates.

“Improvements in the use of the ERP system are an outcome of improvements in the process.”  ERP – The Implementation Cycle, Stephen Harwood.

“Be open to new ways to accomplish the same goal.” The Executive Guide to Implementing Accounting Software, Ken E. Sebahar.

“Competitive advantage comes not from systems, but from doing something better than competitors. “ Mission Critical – Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems, Thomas Davenport.

“Whilst technology is a great enabler, it is not a panacea in itself.” ERP – The Implementation Cycle, Stephen Harwood.

“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.

“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.

“The goal should not be to fail fast but to learn fast.” R “Ray” Wang: An interview by Bob Morris, Ray Wang.

“ERP is first an attitude; second, a process, and only third, a set of tools.” ERP Demystified, Alexis Leon.

“An information system only has value when people use it correctly.” ERP – The Implementation Cycle,, Stephen Harwood.

“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.

“Benchmarking has its limits.” The Reengineering Handbook, Raymond L. Manganelli, Mark M. Klein.

“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.

“The success of the Go Live day is measured by the lack of problems.” ERP – The Implementation Cycle, Stephen Harwood.

“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.

“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.

“Utilize a “test first” approach.  Test scripts are written in advance of any configuration or development.” Secrets to a Successful COTS Implementation, Nick Berg.

“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.

“Users only care about their experiences.” Transitioning the Enterprise to the Cloud, Ed Mahon, CIO at Kent State University.

“Collectively employees do understand the processes, but individually, they do not.” Control Your ERP Destiny, Steven Scott Phillips.

Applying knowledge is the final step that makes the knowledge valuable. Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, Ross Dawson.

“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.

“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

“Content without the context of business process is meaningless.” Dennis Howlett.

“Reliability is results driven.  Repeatability is input driven.” Agile Project Management, Jim Highsmith.

Process thinking is a discipline. Maximize Return on Investment Using ERP Applications, Worster, Weirick, Andera.

“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.

“Decreasing variability early in the process has larger impact than decreasing variability late in the process.” Lean Software Development. Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck.

“The rule is efficiency never trumps effectiveness”. ERP Lessons Learned – Structured Process, Wayne L. Staley.

“Good design can’t fix broken business models.” Jeffrey Veen.

“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.

“The way to reduce the impact of defects is to find them as soon as they occur.” Lean Software Development.  Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck.

“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.

“Remember that if you fail to implement, who cares what the software (ERP) does?” Modern ERP, Marianna Bradford.

“Standardization is the key antidote to low productivity.” Lean Six Sigma for Service.  Michael L. George

“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.

“The assumption is the thicker the report the greater the “due diligence”. This may actually be measuring waste, not actionable information.” ERP Information at the Speed of Reality: ERP Lessons Learned, Wayne L. Staley.

“If performance and up-time are the only metrics that you capture for your cloud customers, then you are missing the mark for customer business success. Performance and up-time are vendor-focused, not customer-focused.”, Brett Beaubouef.

“Every customer measures (ERP business) success differently.” Competing for Customers, Jeb Dastell, Amir Hartman, Craig LeGrande.

“(ERP) Marketing and sales teams still focus too much on hyping features and functions of products, and not enough on what customers want the products to deliver in terms of business outcomes.”,  Competing for Customers, Jeb Dastell, Amir Hartman, Craig LeGrande.

“The ability to succeed in the new subscription economy will depend on how well you sell and deliver measurable business outcomes to your customers.”, Competing for Customers, Jeb Dastell, Amir Hartman, Craig LeGrande.

Organizational Enablement

“Untrained (or under trained) users may end up needing three to six times as much support as end-users who have been trained.” ERP: Tools, Techniques, and Applications, Carol Ptak, Eli Schragenheim.

“Experience shows that the greater employee involvement in the change, the greater the positive response in understanding the compelling need for the change and the sharing of the vision.”Managing the Change Process, David K. Carr, Kelvin J. Hard, William J. Trahant. Coopers & Lybrand Center of Excellence for Change Management

“Prototyping and testing provides one of the highest forms of learning that ERP team participants can receive.” ERP A-Z: Implementer’s Guide for Success, Travis Anderegg.

“An ERP system cannot be installed without the capability of an organization to change.”ERP A-Z: Implementer’s Guide for Success, Travis Anderegg.

“People are one of the hidden costs of ERP implementation.  Without proper training, about 30 to 40 % of front-line workers will not be able to handle the demands of the new system.” Consider, Select & Implement an ERP system, O’Sullivan, Rico, Goldensohn.

“The users of the ERP will be confronted with a huge amount of data; most of the data will have no relevancy to any decision that needs to be considered.”ERP: Tools, Techniques, and Applications, Carol Ptak, Eli Schragenheim.

“Operation and maintenance phase begins with a period of initial struggle until people become comfortable in their roles and tasks.  The duration of this stage depends on how effective the training was.” Enterprise Resource Planning, Alexis Leon.

“Old adage is true: the longer the work stays in process, the more it costs.” Lean Six Sigma for Service, Michael L. George.

“Every forward-thinking enterprise values productivity, which is one of the first things to suffer when technological systems are not end-user-friendly.”, Enterprise Resource Planning, Alexis Leon.

“When data cleansing or manual translations are required, end users should be part of the team.” Successful Packaged Software Implementation, Christine B. Tayntor.

 “Untrained users simply do not take advantage of the system for the intent that is was purchased.” Enterprise Resource Planning , Alexis Leon.

“Education may be viewed as understanding of concepts and practices. Training, however, if the application of education into day-to-day events.” Directing the ERP Implementation, Michael Pelphrey.

“Maintain the project team for at least 1 month after the go-live date.” Consider, Select & Implement an ERP system, O’Sullivan, Rico, Goldensohn.

“Manual input of data is the best possible training method.” The Executive Guide to Implementing Accounting Software, Ken E. Sebahar.

“People can’t be controlled like machines: Service processes are far more dependent on the interaction of people (both internal handoffs and working with customers) than are manufacturing processes.” Lean Six Sigma for Service, Michael L. George.

“Go at a pace that suits the organization’s readiness.” Lean Six Sigma for Service, Michael L. George.

“The logic is inexorable – the better the training, the faster you will see the business metrics move in the direction you are looking for.”  ERP Demystified. Alexis Leon.

“Without change, performance would never improve. Modern ERP.”  Marianne Bradford.

“Resistance, in many cases, is simply a sign of a lack of communication.” ERP A-Z: Implementer’s Guide for Success, Travis Anderegg.

“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.

“There are limits to how much change an organization and its end users can stomach at once.” Why New Systems Fail. Phil Simon.

“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.

“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.

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Derek Bok.

“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.

 “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.

“Every organization that implements an ERP system is, in effect, reengineering.” Modern ERP, Marianne Bradford.

“A time-tested maxim in training is always to build on what you know.” Principles of the Business Rule Approach.  Ronald Ross.

“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.

“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.

“Ollie Wight said it well: “Grease-gun education doesn’t work.” He was referring to the one-shot, quick-hit educational approaches tried so often without lasting results.”, ERP: Making It Happen: The Implementers’ Guide to Success with Enterprise Resource Planning, Thomas F. Wallace.

“Gartner Research recommends allocating 17 percent of the project’s budget for training. Those companies spending less than 13 percent on training are three times more likely to have problems.”, Concepts In Enterprise Resource Planning, Ellen Monk and Bret Wagner.

“A key point: Don’t train before you educate.  People need to know what and why before they’re taught how.  Education should occur either prior to, or simultaneously with the training.”,  Erp: Making It Happen; The Implementers’ Guide to Success with Enterprise Resource Planning, Thomas F. Wallace.

“Short-term ERP cloud adoption is corporate; long-term ERP cloud adoption is personal.” , Brett Beaubouef.

“The more they are satisfied with the system, the more they are engaged with it and the higher their level of assimilation. “(Wagner & Newell, 2007), Beyond ERP Implementation: An Integrative Framework for High Success, Kouki, Pellerin, Poulin.

“The impact of the human factor on the degree and effectiveness of ERP assimilation supersedes the technological factors.” Kouki, Pellerin, Poulin, Beyond ERP Implementation: An Integrative Framework for High Success.

Rapid Implementation

“In order to do rapid implementations, trade-offs must be made.” E-Business and ERP, Murrell G. Shields.

“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.

“Rapid implementation cannot be done with a massive project team.” E-Business and ERP, Murrell G. Shields.

“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.

“The training in a rapid implementation should be hands-on.” E-Business and ERP, Murrell G. Shields.

“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.

“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.

“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.

Data Conversion

“If your existing data is inaccurate and unreliable a new software system will not fix that.” Consider, Select & Implement an ERP system. O’Sullivan, Rico, Goldensohn.

“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.

“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.

“It is recognized that information accuracy is not a system problem, but rather a management problem.” Directing the ERP Implementation. Michael Pelphrey.

“Do it once, right at the source.”  Principles of the Business Rule Approach, Ronald Ross.

“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.

“Extracting and cleansing the data from the existing system can be the single largest task in the project.” ERP Demystified.  Alexis Leon.

“Customers should be asked to net off the pending Credit Notes, Debit Notes and Advances against Invoices in both receivables and payables systems before providing the data for conversion into ERP.” Selected Articles on Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) – Vol 1. VK Ramaswamy.

Evaluating Consulting Partners

“Consultants are there for guidance, but the final say regarding implementation should fail upon the management’s responsibility.” ERP 308 – Most Asked Questions, Leonard Frost.

“No implementation partner will have a complete appreciation of the customer’s business solution until the customer makes the investment to perform knowledge transfer with the implementation partner.” Max Your Investment: 10 Key Strategies for ERP/COTs Success, Brett Beaubouef.

“There is a misguided belief that experienced consultants face no learning curves with the software.”  Control Your ERP Destiny.  Steven Scott Phillips.

“Competent ERP implementation partners should be able to provide industry and configuration best practices day one.”  Max Your Investment: 10 Key Strategies for ERP/COTs Success. Brett Beaubouef.

“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.

“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.

“Have successful project managers who are capable of anticipating what can go wrong.” ERP Demystified, Alexis Leon.

“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.

“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.

“The less you know the more money they (consultants) make.” Control Your ERP Destiny, Steven Scott Phillips.

“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.

“Process is not a substitute for skill.” Agile Project Management, Jim Highsmith.

“Selecting the consultants (and an implementation methodology) is as important as selecting the (ERP) package.” ERP Demystified. Alexis Leon.

“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.

“It is better to know all the questions than some of the answers.”  James Thurber.

“There is no such thing as an easy implementation of an ERP project.” Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) the Great Gamble. Ray Atkinson.

“Discipline creates well-organized memories, history, and experience.” Balancing Agility and Discipline. Barry Boehm, Richard Turner.

“(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.

“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.

“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.

Creating documentation is far easier than generating decisions.  Producing a great volume of documentation does not result in producing a great amount of knowledge.” Max Your Investment: 10 Key Strategies for ERP/COTs Success, Brett Beaubouef.

ERP Innovation

“Machine learning is a logical progression, not a human inspiration.” Brett Beaubouef.

“Roles are finite.  People are infinite.” Agile Project Management, Jim Highsmith.

“Knowledge often emerges from the collaboration of people with very different ways of looking at their field.”  Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, Ross Dawson

“As the level of control increases, the level of innovation decreases.” Max Your Investment: 10 Key Strategies for ERP/COTs  Success, Brett Beaubouef.

“Interaction drives innovation.  Innovation emerges from the interaction of diverse individuals.” Agile Project Management, Jim Highsmith

 “Digital Darwinism is unkind to those who wait.” R “Ray” Wang: An interview by Bob Morris, Bob Morris

“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.

ERP Project Success

“A real configuration of an ERP system can only happen when there is real data in the system.”  Enterprise Resource Planning “Alexis Leon.

“Control is not a cost effective substitute for education.” Brett Beaubouef.

“As Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister (2003) so pithily state, “If a project has no risks, don’t do it.” Risk is an essential characteristic of innovation”.”, Agile Project Management, Jim Highsmith.

“Cost overruns are manageable if the project will achieve worthwhile benefits; however, failing to satisfy business goals is always unacceptable.” Principles of the Business Rule Approach, Ronald Ross.

“Customers like rapid delivery.  Rapid delivery means companies can deliver faster than customers can change their minds.”  Lean Software Development, Mary Poppendieck & Tom Poppendieck.

“Lack of alignment of ERP system and business processes is a major issue in the implementation of ERP.” ERP Implementation Challenges & Critical Organization Success Factors, Rajeshwar Vayyavur.

“A hybrid (cloud) model will add complexity”.  Transitioning the Enterprise to the Cloud, Ed Mahon.

“It is important to recognize how fast ERP team members, and organizations, can acquire new knowledge.” ERP A-Z: Implementer’s Guide for Success, Travis Anderegg.

“You can have a cheap, fast or quality implementation, but you only get two”. How to select your ERP without losing your mind, Andy Pratico.

“Understand the implications of the decisions you make.” Rapid Development , Steve McConnell.

“Industry leaders have not effectively defined the set of business skills that should be included in any ERP consultant’s educational process.” Maximize Return on Investment Using ERP Applications, Worster, Weirick, Andera.

“One of the biggest mistakes during ERP projects is not taking the time to build a common understanding of how business is conducted today and potential improvement opportunities.” Control Your ERP Destiny,  Steven Scott Phillips.

“If the project becomes all things to all people, it will fail to meet anyone’s expectations.” Control Your ERP Destiny, Steven Scott Phillips.

“A consultant with software knowledge is one thing, but if the consultant is a poor communicator, it undermines the transfer of knowledge.”  Control Your ERP Destiny, Steven Scott Phillips.

“Job 1 is to run the business.  Very close to that in importance should be implementing ERP.” ERP: Making It Happen, Thomas Wallace & Michael Kremzar.

“A methodology will help ward off risk, but a contingency plan is still absolutely necessary.” ERP Demystified, Alexis Leon.

“The lesson here is that organizations will encounter great peril when the system they seek to install does not fit their culture.” Mission Critical – Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems, Thomas Davenport.

“ERP Success: Know what features and objectives will NOT be included in the project.” The Executive Guide to Implementing Accounting Software, Ken E. Sebahar.

“Regarding methodologies, there is nothing new under the sun.  Every methodology is based upon a set of rules, environmental conditions and assumptions.  All have strengths and challenges that must be addressed for success.” Max Your Investment: 10 Key Strategies for ERP/COTs  Success.  Brett Beaubouef.

“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.

“There must be awareness throughout the organization of the importance of scope management.” E-Business and ERP  , Murrell G. Shields.

“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.

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” General Dwight Eisenhower.

“Deferring decision(s) will cause significant risks to the (ERP) project success.”  Directing the ERP Implementation, Michael Pelphrey.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

Chris Koch of CIO.com writes, “Blank sheet reengineering can lead to unrealistic business process designs that can’t be implemented through enterprise software.”.

“A major cause of this difficulty (failures) 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 COTS- based (ERP) system.” Evolutionary Process for Integrating COTS-Based Systems (EPIC) Carnegie Mellon – Software Engineering Institute.

“Agile methods universally need close relationships with the customer and users of the systems under development.”  Balancing Agility and Discipline. Barry Boehm, Richard Turner.

“The truth is, no organization plans to fail – rather, they fail to plan…” Control Your ERP Destiny, Steven Scott Phillips.

“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.

“Planning can become mechanistic and succumb to a checklist mentality.” Balancing Agility and Discipline.  Barry Boehm, Richard Turner.

“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.

“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.

“It is only prudent to allow for some slippage in time and budget, and not to count on full project functionality until after testing and installation are complete.” Managerial Issues of Enterprise Resource Planning Systems, David L. Olson.

“The highest probability of successful implementations of ERP software is when there is only a minimal need to change business processes and ERP software.” Enterprise Resource Planning Systems: Systems, Life Cycle, Electronic Commerce, and Risk,  Daniel E. O’Leary.

“Bad processes (and systems) beat up good people.”, Consider, Select & Implement an ERP system, Dr. Jill O’Sullivan, John Rico, Dennis Goldensohn.

“Effectively managed implementations are deliverable driven.”, E-Business and ERP: Rapid Implementation and Project Planning. Murrell G. Shields.

“Change control is about coordination, not denial.”, Agile Project Management. Jim Highsmith.

“For an ERP implementation to go smoothly and provide value, it is critical that a company understand both its current processes and the state of the process after implementation.” Concepts in Enterprise Resource Planning, by Ellen Monk, Bret Wagner.

“No ERP methodology is a substitute for thinking.”, Brett Beaubouef.

“Making partners of customers means they become more likely to understand technical constraints. You start to get rid of the “I need it all now” phenomenon, and customers begin cooperating to find realistic, mutually satisfying technical solutions.” Rapid Development, Steve McConnell.

“The timelier the validation, the better.”, Directing the ERP Implementation, Michael Pelphrey.

ERP  Utilization

“ERP systems will not exhibit their full potential unless they are properly integrated with other enterprise software applications.”  ERP Demystified. Alexis Leon.

“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

“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.

 “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.

“A good system will shine light into dark corners.” Making ERP Work. Sam Graham.

“A major overhead in operating ERP systems is entering transactions. Transactions take time, cost money and introduce the possibility of errors.” Making ERP Work. Sam Graham.

“One of the unseen inhibitors to ERP utilization is that ERP software assumes that there are no departmental or process conflicts existing with the customer.  All are aligned and in harmony with each other.”  Maximize Your Investment: 10 Key Strategies for Effective Packaged Software Implementations.  Brett Beaubouef.

“Perfectly designed automation will only work as well as it is adopted by the people who use it.”  Leah Allen.

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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.

Best of Breed vs. Integrated ERP

We have all heard the proverb “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”   Applying this concept to business software, we would conclude that a business solution is only as strong as its weakest integration.  Usually overlooked and underestimated, integration is one of the most important factors to consider as part of a best of breed vs. integrated ERP solution.   The benefit of richer functionality is limited by partial integration.   In the next sections, we will discuss all the factors to consider as part of making an informed decision regarding best of breed vs. integrated ERP.

Best of Breed versus Integrated ERP

The typical value proposition for best of breed software is the deeper and industry-specific functionality provided.  This advantage is especially important for generating competitive advantage.   It is vital that an organization’s revenue-generating business processes are competitive.  However, it is not strategic to an organization to be competitive in non revenue-generating business activities.  Consider the following:

Advantages and Disadvantages with Best of Breed vs. Integrated ERP

Advantages and Disadvantages with Best of Breed and Integrated ERP

Allow me to expound on a few key facts expressed above:

  1. Integrating a best of breed application with ERP software will result in additional cost and maintenance (ex. dual upgrade and maintenance cycle).
  2. Developing integration between a best of breed application and ERP software will not be as robust as the delivered ERP integrations between its applications.  Part of result has to do with the total integration cost over the life of ERP and the other area is the simple fact that the underlying data models are different.

The question I challenge my customers with is “Will having a best of breed software versus integrated ERP worth the cost?”  Will the additional investment generate a significant impact to competitive advantage?

Allow me to provide a real life example.  I was working with a large insurance provider with their ERP implementation.  As part of the ERP implementation, the customer was considering a best of breed software package instead of utilizing delivered ERP functionality to support IT project management activities.  Following is the case I presented to advise the customer in making their decision:

Outlining considerations for best of breed and integrated ERP

Building the Case for Best of Breed vs Integrated ERP

Ultimately, the business makes the decision but as business technology advisors (IT, Consultants) it is our responsibility to present all the relevant information in the appropriate content so an informed decision can be made.  There is one area in particular that is generally not fully elaborated – the true cost of integration.

The True Cost of Integration

When we think about integration between two different software packages we usually only focus on transactions.  To continue with the example I provided in the previous section, following is a representation of the required integrations between ERP and the best of breed packaged software.

Integration points for Best of Breed with ERP

Integration points for Best of Breed with ERP

Each packaged software has business rules and control data (ex. Project types) that govern how software functionality supports business activities.  Also, consider that the underlying data models for each packaged software are different.  There must be a process (either manual or automatic) in place to keep the respective business rules and control data in sync.  Business transactions must also be replicated between the ERP and the Best of Breed packaged software.  It is worth considering the amount of data that must be replicated between the two software packages.  I understand that replication sounds much worse than integration; however, when we need to integrate transactions between different data models, replication is typically the approach taken.  Even when an ERP vendor indicates they have delivered integration with a best of breed packaged software we need to ask whether the integration is services-oriented or data-oriented (replicated).

There are also strategic considerations for a customer’s IT organization.  Consider the following sources:

Costs required to integrate a best of breed software with ERP

Total Integration Costs for business software

Making the decision to implement a best of breed approach for supporting business activities will increase the total cost of IT as well as put the underlying technical architecture is not flexible and adaptable to meet emerging requirements.

Does Best of Breed Make Sense?

Let me say this loud and clear “ABSOLUTELY”.  ERP can be a good integrated solution to support revenue-supporting, compliance, and generally accepted best practices.  However, ERP does not support competitive practices (if it did then the business practice would no longer be competitive because it is generally available to everyone).   Generally speaking, a best of breed software vendor may be more open to active collaboration and co-development with customers in developing solutions for emerging requirements – which is the nature of revenue-generating business processes.   Yes, there will be the additional cost and support but the payoff is far more significant in terms of the potential for increased revenue and market share.

Summary

Business processes, not individual business functions, generate business results.  Too often, we only focus on business activities and the specific software functionality that supports these activities without holistically addressing the entire business process.  This limited view typically results in a short-sighted decision resulting in a higher Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and a less flexible software solution.

Best of breed software may be the best decision for supporting revenue-generating business processes.  There are times were integrated ERP is the right choice given the potential return.  What is most important to consider is which choice will enable the customer to be in the best position to take advantage of future opportunities.

Creating a Flexible and Adaptable ERP Solution

Every customer I assisted in their ERP implementation wanted an ERP solution that would be flexible and adaptable.   One of the key challenges and disappointments customers have with ERP are around flexibility and adaptability.  We also need to address the common misinterpretations associated with the concepts of a flexible and adaptable ERP solution.  Referring back to a previous blog we know that ERP is only one component of a business solution.  There are three key areas to address as part of developing a flexible and adaptable business solution.

Know The Limitations

Technically speaking, there are two key methods to enable packaged software like ERP to be flexible and adaptable:

  1. Programming (addresses flexibility or the ability to change)
  2. Configuration (addresses adaptability or the ability to easily change)

Each of these methods has inherent advantages and challenges associated with them.  Configuration has been a key area of focus for ERP vendors to create greater software adaptability.  Configurations enable less technical, business-oriented users to determine how ERP behaves to specific events and conditions.  Configuration provides the opportunity for cost-effective flexibility to meet the unique business requirements.  However, where there is no option for configuration then programming must be used to enable ERP software the flexibility to meet the unique requirement.

Programming provides an exact prescription to address a specific business event, condition, or activity.  There are programming techniques and add-on utilities that provide some level of technical flexibility (examples: object-oriented programming, services-oriented architecture) but business flexibility is extremely limited at best (unless an ERP vendor can devise a practical means of applying artificial intelligence – fuzzy logic to their software).   There are limitations with the amount of flexibility and adaptability you can create via software.  What is important to remember is that there are other components of a business solution that better suited to address flexibility and adaptability.

Know Your Strengths

Let’s revisit the components of a business solution along with their inherent strengths.

Strengths of Business Solution

Business Solution Strengths

Too often we do not effectively utilize the strengths of the key components of a business solution.  ERP software is good at automating consistent, repeatable activities based upon a prescribed logic (business rules).  ERP software is not a sustainable, cost-effective option for dynamic activities based upon fuzzy logic (business rules).  People are more flexible and adaptable than ERP software.  Please do not take the above statement to an extreme and infer that every customer should conform their business activities to the ERP software.  ERP implementations should include software enhancements to address the unique value-add requirements of a customer.

Flexibility and adaptability only have value within the context of enabling ERP to position itself optimally in supporting key business drivers.   Next, we will discuss the common drivers that must be coordinated as part of addressing flexibility and adaptability.

Finding Balance

Every customer will have unique business drivers that must be managed in a balanced approach.  Given my implementation experience following are what I consider the common business drivers that we might address as part of an ERP implementation

Balancing ERP

A balanced ERP solution

Can we have a flexible and adaptable ERP solution?  I believe that the answer is yes.  Can we have an efficient and effective ERP solution?  Yes.  Can we have a scalable and efficient solution?  Yes, however we can only experience both characteristics to a certain level.  The challenge I observed is when an extreme position is taken in one of these areas.  Like a ball on a flat table once we start tilting the table (taking an extreme position) the ball will roll off the table – – along with your ERP implementation.

Finding balance is an ongoing exercise to find the right level of applying the influence of the specific business driver upon the ERP project.  It is also important to know and understand at what level of influence will business drivers start conflicting with one another.

Summary

Flexibility and adaptability are reasonable expectations for a business solution.  The key challenges in this area tend to be around inaccurate expectations and not effectively utilizing the individual components of a business solution.  What is required is a practical analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, and business drivers to develop a balanced approach for success.  This analysis is not a one-time event but a continuous effort that is triggered when emerging pain is experienced.  Experiencing pain provides the opportunity for rebalancing your ERP solution.

Customers – Insist on an ERP Knowledge Transfer Plan

What Gets Tracked and Measured Gets Done

How do you measure knowledge transfer?  Customers – have you ever received a report or completed checklist that demonstrated the Implementation Partner conducted knowledge transfer?   Knowledge transfer is a process, not just a milestone task on a project plan.  Consider the following illustration to identify the importance of knowledge transfer.

ERP Business Solution

Business Solution Defined

In a previous article I referred to this view and also identified people as the component with the largest impact to a successful business solution.  A key enabler for people being successful is Implementation Partners conducting effective knowledge transfer.  For many ERP implementations, knowledge transfer is a process that is loosely managed which results in the Implementation Partner providing support long after the go-live date. For an area so important it demands that we formalize this process to ensure completeness.

Best Practice: Knowledge Transfer Plan

Simply put, if you want to ensure that an objective is reached then you need a plan.  A knowledge transfer plan first defines the knowledge transfer process and the methods that will be used to conduct knowledge transfer.    Second, it defines all the customer’s roles & responsibilities that are required to support the entire business solution – both from a functional and technical perspective.  Third, the knowledge transfer plan should act as a checklist for each individual role validating that effective knowledge transfer has taken place.    Following is an example of a knowledge transfer plan.

Knowledge Transfer Process for Consultants

Knowledge Transfer Plan

Effective knowledge transfer is more than just training or having a user sit next to a consultant.  It requires a holistic approach in using several methods (training, mentoring, knowledge generation, and interactions) to be successful.  The end result of knowledge transfer is enabling the customer to support their new business solution.  

Implications for Implementation Partners

Knowledge is power!  Knowledge can be money and a key source of competitive advantage for an Implementation Partner.  For an Implementation Partner a key concern is balancing knowledge transfer to ensure customer success versus providing too much knowledge resulting in the customer terminating services early.  It’s important for customers to keep in mind that knowledge sharing happens more freely in a trusted environment.

There are two broad categories of service that an Implementation Partner can provide: staff leadership and staff augmentation.

Broad categories for ERP implementation services

ERP Implementation Service Spectrum

To achieve greater customer enablement Implementation Partners should play more of a staff leadership role during the implementation.  Customers, there is a price associated with effective knowledge transfer.  Also keep in mind that there are greater resource requirements (i.e. knowledge, experience, advisory) for staff leadership services.  Price should not be the only consideration when comparing staff leadership versus staff augmentation services.

Summary

True enablement is based upon customers selecting consulting firms that act as a true partner and not just staff augmentation.  If customers only require staff augmentation then I suggest customers get it as cheap as possible, yet don’t expect any reliable knowledge transfer to occur. If this is the first ERP implementation for the customer then I would recommend that the customer selects an Implementation Partner that not only assist your project team but more importantly train and enable your project team to be successful on your own.  That is what a true partner would do.  To maximize knowledge transfer the customer needs to foster a trusted work environment.  Customers – it’s in your best interest to take the lead in creating this environment.

Business Leads and Technology Supports

There is a misconception in the ERP market that says technology is the key enabler to business maturity.  In a previous blog (ERP is Only Part of a Business Solution) I discussed the supporting role ERP plays in a business solution.  Business processes and people have a far greater influence on business process maturity and business results.  Let’s clear up this misconception by examining two areas that have driven its general adoption.

 

Is Technology changing Business?

I do not believe that technology is changing business but rather technology is finally catching up with leading business practices.  For example, back in the early nineties I read a book on the e-business revolution.  The major premise of the book was that technology was transforming existing business models into an e-business model.  The book provided an example where inventory stocks could now be checked in retailer stores and inventory orders could be generated to maintain a desired stock level.  The book explained that this is an emerging requirement due to new e-business technology.

I have to humbly disagree with this analysis.  The above requirement had always been a desire of business.  I remember back in the early fifties when my father would make the rounds as a salesman to his retailer customers to see their inventory and manually created orders to maintain the retailer’s inventory levels.  Many businesses did not perform this process because (a) it was manually intensive work, and (b) it reduced focus on higher priority business activities.   Technology is now providing a cost-effective vehicle to accomplish this business requirement.

Build It and They will Come

Everyone has heard the phrase “build it and they will come”.  Several internal IT and external Implementation Partners & ERP vendors have used new technology as the value proposition for ERP implementations.  This philosophy may have worked in the era of “green screens” and emerging client/server technologies but it does not work in today’s world.  Technology driving Business is like putting the cart before the horse.  I recently talked with a customer where the IT organization and ERP vendor took the above approach for implementing new Business Intelligence (BI) software.  The business users felt limited and constrained by the technology.  Results – user adoption was low and now business users are looking at implementing their own BI solution(s).  Needless to say that the ERP vendor, the Implementation Partner, and their own internal IT organization are no longer considered trusted advisors.

What Drives Business Results?

Technology is a great enabler that can play a role in supporting the generation of business value.  However, technology is not always the best approach to address problems that may be inherent in the business model.  Example: automating non-value-add business activities will not generate business value for the customer.  Also consider that most business value is generated outside the ERP software.    “Making decisions and implementing them is where business value is created in an organization.” (Dawson, Ross. Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships. Butterworth Heinemann, 2000).   ERP does not have the capacity to make decisions having considered a diverse range of issues, and will not have the capacity to do so in the near future (maybe in our lifetime we should have artificial intelligence capabilities embedded within ERP).  Knowledge is only an attribute of people.  Technology stores information.    So how should we leverage ERP to support greater business results and business maturity?   Consider the follow illustration:

Key Drivers for Business Results

Key Drivers for Business Results

 

It is important to note that business processes and people have a far greater impact on business results than technology.  Technology can be a cost-effective solution in automating consistent rules and activities.  However, technology like ERP can only utilize information that has been codified.  There will always be tribal business-related knowledge and experience that exists outside technology.  Some of this tribal knowledge is leading or emerging business activities/rules.  In this situation where business rules and activities are radically evolving then technology is not a cost-effective solution for automation. 

Summary

It is important to understand and appreciate what technology can and cannot do for a customer.  Often the true problem lies not with the ERP software itself (granted there always software bugs and fixes to apply) but rather the demand for quick fixes and rapid cures to business challenges.  If the ERP software did not improve the performance of the underlying business model then executive management would conclude that the ERP implementation was a failure. 

Technology like ERP can be an enabler and a limitation for customers.  To ensure enablement over limitation you must first understand the right relationship between business and technology.  Once you understand the key strengths and weaknesses of both areas then you will have a greater insight to the right application of technology to support the customer in driving valued business results.

Get it wrong the first time! The case for ERP iterations.

We have all heard the phrase “Get right the first time” used as part of an effort to reduce costs and accelerate implementations.  Unfortunately, many have interpreted this to mean doing an activity once.  We attempt to run ERP implementations as a production process.   Good production processes deliver the anticipated result (a known result), for a standard cost, within a given time.  In contract, ERP implementations are more of an exploration process given the customer variability.  Consider the following illustration:

Every ERP Implementation is Unique

Unique Factors for ERP Implementations

A recurring problem we have with ERP implementations is that we try to “big bang” activities and do not provide an opportunity to learn, adjust, and correct for success.   Iterating certain implementation activities will give us that opportunity.  Let me provide you with a just a few examples.
 

Project Estimating

 As stated in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Manager’s Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) there are three types of estimates or what I like to call “levels of understanding”.  Estimating is based upon our level of understanding regarding effort, scope, assumptions, constraints, and objectives.

Estimating for ERP Implementations

ERP Estimates

As you move further into an ERP implementation the better we are able to estimate. Why?  The key reason is that you have more proven information to base your estimation.  I worked on generating ERP implementation estimates for the last 10 years and I can safely say that I could never generate a definitive estimate without first going through a detailed fit/gap.  Yet, we expect to hit an implementation estimate that was created before any implementation work is done.  There should be no surprise to the fact that most ERP implementations do not hit their budget given the level of accuracy associated with the estimate. 

Gathering Requirements

Another area for an iterative approach is in requirements gathering.  Recently, I was asked what the best approach for gathering requirements was and my response was that there is no one good approach.

Gathering ERP requirements

Methods for gathering ERP requirements

 

Do not limit yourself to one method for defining requirements.  The more methods (perspectives) you employ to gather requirements the greater the probability for success because the project will have the opportunity to create a holistic requirements definition.

Summary

I firmly believe that every customer’s ERP implementation is unique.  Because every ERP implementation is unique there are a large number of unknowns that we try to address given the limited information we have.  We should take a risk-adverse, iterative approach to remove implementation uncertainty.  Do you think this cause and effect could apply to other areas of an implementation (example: testing, development)?   I am interested to hear your thoughts.

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