How to Turn Your ERP Project Into a Party

Dan Aldridge | Sep 22, 2016
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“It takes one to know one.” I’m beginning to think that this applies to everything else in my life, except, of course, ERP. But when aspiring to write this post, I figured, why not take advice from a guy who knows? So here it goes.

If you’re considering buying new enterprise software or upgrading your ERP system, you’ve probably heard some pretty horrifying stats.

A recent survey* by research firm Panorama Consulting Solutions showed that while organizations continue to experience significant budget overruns, their average implementation cost decreased from $4.5 million last year to $3.8 million this year. And yet, there has been no other time in history when we’ve had so many enterprise software options. Niche, best-of-breed, two-tier, the list goes on and on. It’s a treasure trove of fun and functionality, models and modules, clogging airwaves and boggling minds.

Here’s what the numbers show. 57% of ERP projects had cost overruns. The number one reason for this was initial project scope expanded, which can, in part, reflect insufficient needs analysis or project planning from the start. The average ERP project duration was 21 months, which is a 48% increase over last year. Call me crazy, but the survey results attributed this to big data overruns. Only 65% of respondents reported they received less than 50% of the benefits they expected.

Ouch! What’s going on here? What about the 43% whose projects came in under budget, the ones that finished in 6 months or less or the ones that witnessed big time positive change in their businesses as a result of a successful ERP implementation? I think a large part of the problem is perception – good projects are not big news. People naturally gravitate towards the negative. Who cares about a relatively painless, quiet “Oh, we went live yesterday” when there’s a $250 million Titanic making headlines?

For every IT project disaster there are thousands of enterprise software projects that succeed and pay off every year. What are they doing right that the others aren’t? Why do they get satisfaction and realize the benefits that others don’t? Why are we so frightened by the doomsday predictions and the naysayers?

After two decades knee-deep in ERP implementation and having my fair share of failures, I’m convinced that not only can software projects be done right, they can even be FUN!

Remember back when you were young and really looking forward to your birthday? Remember which birthday parties were the most successful and the most fun? I remember that the best parties had everything on this list (and maybe even a bit more):

  • Follow the formula of other great parties. My mom wasn’t a born party planner, but she learned to be really good at it.
  • Have really great toys. Not the most expensive, but the kinds everyone could play with.
  • The best parties are planned well in advance. No nasty surprises, like the entertainment not showing up or blue candles on the cake when we paid for pink.
  • Have enough activities for everyone to join in. Even the shier, quieter kids could be engaged and entertained.
  • Make sure there’s something cool for the grown-ups. After all, they were footing the bill.

Successful birthday party vs. seamless ERP installation? The equation is the same and so are the results – FUN.

Let’s compare:

  • Learn from the experts.So many great sources/resources on how to run a successful IT project. You just have to find them, listen/read and learn.
  • Choose the best toys.So many software choices and consultants out there. Choose the right “fit” for your organization.
  • Manage your project effectively.A well-planned project anticipates problems, sets milestones, provides deliverables (token ‘gifts’), keeps costs down and keeps (your management) at bay.
  • Keep the kids engaged.Learn how to set expectations, get them to take ownership, train them to use the new toys and keep the enthusiasm in motion.
  • Keep the adults happy.Learn how to convince them it’s time for a change, demonstrate benefits, keep executive sponsorship strong, measure progress and give them some cool gadgets to play with.

We try to approach every project with an open mind and not listen to the naysayers. I’m a glass-half-full guy because instinctively, I know it can work. The right software, the right approach and the right team really can deliver tremendous results for you and your customers.

You just have to learn how to throw a great party!

 

*Source: Panorama Consulting Solutions, 2016 REPORT ON ERP SYSTEMS AND ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE

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