ERP Implementation: It’s gotta be an inside job
It’s 8:54 am. You and your organization are just minutes away from the finish line, where you’ll soon be joined by an A-team of company managers, IT know-it-all’s and a CEO who’s pre-programmed to see only the bottom line. You’re convening because your organization is in dire need of a business management solution, aka, a modern ERP system to replace that eclectic mix of spreadsheets, printed documents, time clocks and handwritten invoices. And because you’ve been chosen as the company’s ERP Project Manager.
Before diving in, there’s something you should know: “ERP implementation is an inside job.” This is because, ultimately, it’s senior management who will yay or nay the decision to undertake this costly, complex and often frustrating project, that your ERP implementation starts inside, right here, in the boardroom.
When I was deemed ERP Project Manager for the company where I used to work, I remember how pitching the idea of ERP was the toughest hard sale of my career. It went something like this:
Note to self: “ERP drives companies forward, boosts productivity, efficiency, and your company’s bottom line.” One more note to self: “Need to convince company management that implementing ERP is inevitable, but it’s also a complex, costly, long-winded process that demands their commitment.”
With nearly two decades in the ERP arena, here are my 5 recommended tips to use when pitching ERP to your management team:
- Show & Tell – Present your current legacy systems, such as accounting, time and attendance, invoicing and sales, and how they interact. Select an easy process, such as issuing an invoice, and show how data moves between your systems and your spreadsheets and just how much tedious, manual work is involved in the process.
- Tick Tock – Timing is everything, so I recommend not waiting until your current systems crash or can no longer serve your growing company’s needs. You don’t want to risk losing critical company and/or customer information or having to reenter lost data… by hand.
- Copycats – Case studies are always crowd pleasers. It’s imperative that you show how your key competitors yielded high ROI once an ERP system was up and running. Show stats on how they lowered costs, resources and processes by automating workflows and reducing manpower to increase their productivity and efficiency.
- IT: Your BFF – Make your IT/system admin team your best friend. Partner with them to better understand the on-premise hardware and software that’s serving your organization. What are the costs involved, subscriptions, server upkeep, maintenance fees? Research and present these costs and match them against possible cost-saving alternatives, such as cloud-hosted ERP.
- Do Due Diligence – Hit the books (or the Internet) and compile an RFP (Request for Proposal) for an ERP system. Even if you don’t have all the answers, get the ball rolling and put together everything you can on your company’s real needs, including a statement/purpose, background info, scope of work and anticipated budget, if available. Need help getting started? Check out this ERP RFP Template & Guide.
These tips may seem like a drop in the bucket, but if you’ve made it your mission to captivate and motivate your audience, then make sure your research is flawless and your numbers are all in a row before you make your pitch. Your job is to help those decision-makers get on board, stay there, and then, agree that an ERP system will in fact boost productivity and increase your company’s bottom line. This might take days, weeks, or even months to achieve – and its only phase one of your implementation project.
Remember, you didn’t come this far only to come this far. Be patient. And good luck!