The multifaceted task of implementing a successful ERP system starts with selecting the “right” system and having a cohesive, adaptable strategy.

As strange as it might sound, the software and its features is typically the least important ingredient to success. Instead, focus on…

  1. Just the critical few key requirements. Although it is natural to think that every piece of functionality is critical (or why not include it since you’re spending money on a new system anyway), don’t. Take a step back and focus 80% of your efforts on the 20% that drives your business.
  2. People. Nothing else matters if the right people aren’t on the team. It is 99.9% probable that something will go wrong during the system implementation, and if you have the right people in the right positions (on the implementation team, focused on change management, leading the organization, etc), they will turn these potential boulders into tiny pebbles along the road to success.
  3. The process must be led by the business functions, yet the IT project manager is the key. I know this sounds like a contradiction, but it is one of the most important elements to success. The business must lead the process to make sure it is focused on the key elements that will support the business and drive business value/ return; however, they typically are not the best equipped to ensure a successful execution. Therefore, finding an IT project manager proficient in bringing it all together (the business needs, project management, the IT elements, etc) and facilitating the implementation (sometimes behind the scenes in a supporting role) is key to success.
  4. Change management. It isn’t necessary to be an expert in change management to be successful. Instead, leadership is the key – communicate proactively, provide as much clarity as possible about the future state, the roadmap to get to the future state, ask questions, and listen.
  5. Training and education. It is the only way to make sure the business results are achieved. Don’t just focus on the how-to’s. Remember the whys – we want people to think, ask questions, push back and work as a team to deliver the expected business results.