Are you thinking of expanding your current, or adopting a new, business system? Selecting, configuring, and deploying a new business system – whether it is a full-blown ERP product or something smaller-scale, such as an expense report management platform – can be stressful, time-consuming, and expensive.
Without proper planning and execution such a project can quickly go over-budget and produce disappointing results. Minimize those risks and maximize your potential return on the project by following these quick tips for a successful implementation of any business system:
#1 – Be sure you clearly understand and can articulate the business case driving the implementation.
Avoid scope creep and end-user resistance by making sure key personnel understand the root drivers and goals of the project. This can prevent the project from going over budget, over time, and producing poor results.
Management and sponsors must be able to clearly explain key requirements and expectations to internal and external resources, and must be able to convince internal stakeholders that the expected results are worth the anticipated effort, for a project to be successful.
#2 – Form a steering committee that includes executive involvement and is empowered to make key decisions.
Projects of all size and scope require formal structure and oversight to be successful. Steering committees fill a critical executive function, serving to distill stakeholder input into clear, actionable directives for project resources.
Executive involvement is key, as steering committees are often called upon to make hard decisions that may disappoint some employees. Participation by upper management helps to ensure that stakeholder expectations remain aligned with project goals and that project resources remain free to execute on deliverables with minimal end-user resistance.
#3 – Be sure that core business processes are clearly understood by internal personnel prior to the beginning of the project.
In order to get the most out of their investment businesses must be able to articulate their current core processes, how they would like those processes to change as a result of their implementation, and what aspects of those processes are critical and must be supported by the new system.
Good systems are no substitute for good processes, and poor implementations often stem from poorly understood and poorly articulated operational requirements.
#4 – Invest in Project and Change Management Expertise
Implementations can be expensive, and it can be tempting to cut back on project and change management costs.
Poorly managed projects are at risk of going over budget and over time, and implementations without effective change management often experience poor user adoption. If you intend to assign these roles to internal resources, make sure they are qualified and are given enough time to perform their jobs properly. If you do not have qualified internal resources, make it a priority to find high-quality external ones, and be sure to budget for them appropriately.
#5 – Be realistic about the time required for your implementation and your employees’ capacity to devote attention to the project.
Implementations can be time consuming and demanding, and it is important that they be structured in such a way that key participants do not become overburden and burned out.
Make sure that timelines are reasonable, and that flexibility is built into the project plan to help account for vacation time, employee turnover, and the daily demands of the business. Taking a phased approach to larger implementations can help keep workloads reasonable and can bring quick wins that make teams happy.
Finally – expect the unexpected! No two implementations are the same, and none go entirely as planned. Remain flexible, be ready to adapt, and listen to your team – ultimately, the success of the project depends on them.