The Long Game of ERP Projects

The Long Game

2013 ended in tragedy for a couple of my friends when their eldest son slipped away in his sleep. Tom’s condition of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy not only cut his life short, it also severely impacted his everyday activities, but that never stopped him taking enjoyment from life or being “a cheeky young blighter.”

So, in memory of Tom, I have decided to run 2014 miles in 2014 for the Long-Shaw Kids Fund, which supported Tom (and still support his younger brother Charlie who suffers from the same condition). Tom’s dad, Pete, set up run4tom and has linked up my RunKeeper account so that everyone can keep track of my progress and, most importantly, donate much needed money to the Long-Shaw fund.

Setting myself this goal has already changed my running perspective. Every run now has a meaning. When it gets tough I chant to myself “I’m running for Tom.” It’s also encouraged my two boys to get involved. They have clubbed together their pocket money to donate £25 to the cause and have committed to running two miles a week with me. I have found I worry less about pushing myself to run too fast, or over ground that’s “a bit risky”, instead I have settled into a pattern of making sure I am able to be up and running the next day. I have sacrificed short term gain for the long game.

Like my 2014 miles, successful ERP projects hinge on:

  1. Establishing goals
  2. Bringing people with you
  3. The long game

Establishing Goals

It’s critical in any project that you have clear goals; objectives that you can measure, that are achievable, that you can stand behind and work towards, and that are easy to explain to people.

The goals need to be business goals, “switching the server on” is just not good enough. People need to understand how achieving these goals will improve their business: increased order efficiency, better reliability of customer promise dates, reduced stock levels and so on.

Bringing people with you

An ERP project is not something you can do on your own, in a corner of the office – for it to be successful people across the business have to engage. They have to become excited about the change, they have to be willing to dedicate time to testing and training, and they have to be prepared to be patient for those first few weeks after “go live.”

The Long Game

Perhaps most critical of all, an ERP project takes a relatively long time, from three to twelve months usually. Along the way there are lots of opportunities to make decisions that benefit the business in the long term, but cause more pain or cost more resources in the short term. Reports cut out of scope because there isn’t the time to finish them, functionality cut out because no-one was made available to test it. I accept that you have to contain the scope of a project, the skill is getting the balance right between making the right decision for the project and the right decision for the business. In my experience I recommend starting up a “phase 2” list as soon as possible and making sure it goes on an implementation plan. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

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