The devil’s square in ERP

There are many factors that influence the success of an ERP implementation. The key to success lies in focusing on four aspects that are also interconnected. Together they form the devil's square in ERP.

The four aspects of the devil's square are:

  1. Costs
  2. Time
  3. Quality
  4. Scope

And they are without a doubt linked together. For example, if you want to increase the quality and shorten the time, costs will rise and you will have to make concessions in functionality. By giving every aspect the right attention, your ERP project will be a success.

1. Costs

An important objective or even a requirement is that the ERP project is completed within budget. By setting up a detailed budget with several phases and milestones you will be able to timely identify where you expect to deviate from the planning and you can directly act upon this. This way you prevent unpleasant surprises, such as a project that is not even halfway yet, but on which you have already spent the complete budget. Only for extra features and/or changes in the software that actually add value it should be allowed to increase the budget. This however always affects another aspect of the Devil’s Quadrangle, in this case (project lead) time.

2. Time

At the start of the ERP implementation you already decide on when you will go live with the system. As this date comes nearer it becomes tempting to postpone the go-live several weeks. But only do so if there is really no other way for you. Just like in budgeting, control and predictability are of great importance when it comes to planning. A comprehensive planning with an insight into the quantity of work per person per phase enables you to plan your resources for the project in time. And that ensures you that the go-live date remains realistic and delay will not be necessary or perhaps a very deliberate choice.

"Opting for quality is not the same as striving for perfection."

3. Quality

No one will argue that a high quality project as your end result is very important. What you deliver in the project should meet the specs, should be tested extensively and should support the processes very well. The objective of the ERP implementation is to take a step (or two) ahead and enable growth of the organization; you want to be prepared for the future. Yet, time constraints or limited budgets, sometimes cause projects to compromise on quality. That is of course not what you want; do it right or don’t do it at all. Opting for quality is not the same as striving for perfection. What you aim for is a decent and stable basis at the go-live which can be optimized in follow-up projects. If you choose primarily for quality, then as a consequence the project will take longer or the required budget will be higher.

4. Scope

The functionalities which you hope to have in the new ERP system strongly influence the size of the project and the future of your organization. Will you stick to the standard or choose for customizations and accept the consequences of that choice? Which features in the existing ERP or IT environment (e.g. interfaces or mobile solutions) should be retained and which features are you willing to let go off? Sometimes because there is no reason to hold on to it, sometimes because of higher efficiency. Which features do you absolutely require at go-live and which features can be added later on during optimization projects? No easy questions, but definitely issues to think about before the implementation, because it always influences the other three aspects.

A decision to implement a change in the project should be taken with respect to the initial decision and by minding its impact on other aspects. Make sure you understand the consequences of your decision and realize whether the decision is justified or not, so you can live up to your own expectations!

Philip van Kemenade

Marketing Manager

Philip van Kemenade completed his Marketing Management studies at Tilburg University in 2010 and has been working for Dysel since 2011. As Marketing Manager he is responsible for the branding, appearance and proposition of Dysel. Due to his extensive experience in helping equipment dealers, he knows the challenges in the industry and he works every day on aligning Dysel's products and services to the requirements and wishes of the customer.

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