This isn’t just about functionality
If you are in the market for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, don’t just focus on the software’s functionality. Limiting your search criteria to just the ERP is like shopping for a new house and not factoring in the location. Not paying attention to, or discounting the importance of other critical factors can narrow your choices, but increase your chance of being unhappy with what you ultimately choose – whether that’s a nice house in a bad location or new ERP that isn’t working for your company. The good news is this can be avoided. In the case of ERP, it comes down to closely evaluating the ERP implementation consultants you’ll be working with just as much as evaluating the ERP itself.
Here is the cold, hard truth about a new ERP: It’s useless when you first buy it. It certainly has potential when it’s purchased, but it’s not yet providing any benefit, it hasn’t made anything easier, and it hasn’t replaced your old system. It’s important to understand and embrace the fact that unimplemented ERP is totally useless.
The right ERP implementation consultants turn potential into reality
Because you’re looking at potential, your search for ERP should not be limited to just the functionality. Turning that potential into reality is the job of any ERP consulting firm that assists your team during the implementation. Together, you bring the ERP to life.
Or you don’t. I’ve been in this industry a long time and not every ERP story is a successful one. Failure is an option. In fact, it’s the starting point. Remember, newly purchased ERP does nothing except provide a potential for managing the business better.
Why do implementations fail? The answers I hear and read about usually focus on the software. “The software doesn’t work!” or some variation of that is confidentially stated as a factual analysis of the situation. Of course the software doesn’t work. As I’ve stated, ERP software that isn’t implemented is useless.
It comes down to people and processes
The real reasons behind failed implementations are twofold. First, there was not an adequate transfer of knowledge from the ERP consultants to the end users. The role of the ERP implementation consultants is to work closely with the implementation committee to develop new procedures that meet the company’s goals and take full advantage of the functionality the software provides.
The other issue is not testing the procedures. The first layer of testing is done to prove the new procedures developed by the ERP consultants actually do provide the desired outcome. Once that is proven, the end users can be trained. The second layer of testing is done to prove that the users are indeed trained. Great ERP and great procedures still represent nothing more than potential. The ERP consultants turn potential into reality, and the end users following the procedures created by the consultants, ultimately execute and deliver on the success of the implementation.
Are ERP implementation consultants more important than the software’s functionality?
I could make a strong argument that they are. Implementing without a group of seasoned ERP implementation consultants who have a proven track record of success usually results in leaving a lot of the software’s functionality untapped. Software functionality is only helpful if it is used.
There is one caveat I need to mention, though. The best ERP implementation consultants can’t get great results with software that is not a fit for the company or lacks critical functionality. So functionality is important; it’s just not the only thing.
If you want to learn more about what needs to be considered when choosing a new ERP system, download my eBook How to Select ERP…and not regret it.