It is amazing how fast twenty years in the ERP business can go by! It seems like just yesterday that I left a secure position as a Senior Manager in KPMG’s Information Systems Group to head out on my own. My portable computer was a 386 computer that was small enough to fit under my arm. If I needed to take a monitor I had to use a cart because it was too big and heavy to carry more than a few feet. When we first got our hands on a proper portable computer, we thought we had died and gone to heaven although the $5,000 price tag was a challenge.
Most software was still running in DOS. Changes were not long in coming as in the mid-1990’s the software vendors attempted to move onto Windows, many not so successfully. Although the new graphical interface was interesting, many of our customers had never seen a mouse that didn’t have four legs. It led to some interesting times when we got into training sessions and it’s a good thing they came attached to a cord that kept them anchored to the computers.
After being around a couple hundred or so of ERP system implementations, you start to pick up on a few things. The following are probably the more important of what I have seen.
- Project management is absolutely critical in reducing risk and ensuring that projects are on time and on budget.
- Keep a lid on the scope. Don’t try to give the users everything they want and certainly don’t try to duplicate their previous system.
- Spend the money on the training. It will save you months of frustration. Our best story was a large client that carried out exhaustive testing and training. We phoned two weeks after the go-live date to see if they had any questions because we hadn’t heard from them.
- Do spend the time defining the requirements. It is often the only way to make sure that expectations are met.
- Don’t ignore change management and you won’t be surprised by the “pits of despair”. Any new system results in significant change for your staff. Many of them won’t like it and will go through some unhappiness if you don’t properly prepare.
I’m looking forward to the next twenty years. With the changes in technology, I expect to see a lot less paper and more electronic interaction between business partners and staff.
By Malcolm Roach of Open Door Technology, Microsoft Dynamics NAV Partner based out of Calgary, Alberta