You have bought or are close to buying new manufacturing ERP software. Hopefully it is EnterpriseIQ from IQMS but perhaps not. When planning and laying out the next steps, sometimes the best way to attain success is to plan with failure in mind. Now that might sound like an odd statement but if you think about the key areas that can fail an implementation and are up front in avoiding those areas, your success is more attainable. So, independent of the software you chose, in talking with our customers and many prospects, here are the top three things I see as something that can effectively kill an implementation. Surprisingly enough, these items are often overlooked as important and therefore are hazards for many organizations.
Top 3 ERP Implementation Hazards
No. 3: Lack of Involvement of Team Members
Believe it or not, this may start before the ERP selection process begins but can extend beyond a purchase and into implementation and actual usage of an ERP system. You most likely have key members from various departments within your organization. You have accounting, customer service, manufacturing, executives, and possibly tooling or any number of other departments. Involve them in the process – the entire process! Ask for wish lists ahead of any RFI. Ask them to sit in on various aspects of sales demonstrations. Ask for their vote on the software. And most importantly, ask for their commitment to implementing. This means guaranteeing they will make their schedule clear for team meetings, data entry, process flow meetings, conference room pilots, and training their employees. These key employees may not have final decision on many aspects of the implementation but making them feel a part of the process and listening to their ideas will not only give them more ownership but will boost the teamwork mentality that is needed during change.
No. 2: No Communication
Change is often one of the things people continually say they dislike the most. Changing ERP systems often brings change of process, change of inventory, change of attitudes – basically big change in jobs and job performance for many. Keeping lines of communication open can help people – even if they aren’t key department managers – feel like they are part of the whole project. Have regular email updates on phases of the implementation, note the go-live goal date, provide next steps for the various departments and more. Some companies have been successful in creating a company newsletter that is specifically focused on the implementation. They key is that everyone knows what is going on, can offer to assist, but also works toward the same goal. Empower employees through communication.
No. 1: No Management Enforcement/Buy-In/Participation
By far, the number one reason for a failed implementation (independent of the fit and function of the ERP software) is lack of management enforcement, buy-in or participation. In ERP implementation a “hands-off” approach by management is not ideal. This is not to say they should be micro-managing the project but, like many things in life, leading by example is one of the best motivators for others. If management doesn’t check-in on the progress, doesn’t seem interested in the successes, and isn’t also involved in the process, employees see that as disinterest. The mentality then becomes “If management is not interested then why should we, the employees, care?” When it comes to management participation, perception becomes reality to employees. Management should be present at meetings, should meter out consequences when failures in time line occur, and should offer congratulations when goals are met. Be active participants in the implementation!
By no means are these three items the only causes for delays and problems in implementations. In addition, in rare instances, companies might see all these within their facility and yet still have a successful implementation. There are always exceptions. However, as a general rule, when determining how to go about the selection, implementation, and continued use of a new ERP software, these are some good guidelines to avoid pitfalls other companies have met.
What are some successes or failures your company has seen – outside the scope of the ERP software?