An ERP implementation is about working together. Not only with your colleagues, but also with the software partner. Together, you must ensure an optimal setup of the system. But that is not an easy task. The relationship between software vendor and customer at the workplace is an important aspect in risk management. A relationship that can be classified as "customer and supplier" does not lead to collaboration. A partnership does though. But how do you create a partnership?
Open communication with each other
What is going on in the company? Will there be a reorganization soon, or are they looking for extra staff, or perhaps they have little knowledge of the current system setup? Dare to be open about this. Only then these circumstances can be taken into account. Often, it is only at the end of an implementation, or even later, that I find out why the implementation went so difficult. By being open, you create better communication, while staying frustrated on the other hand will cause troubles and a poor collaboration. Talking to each other frequently and not being afraid to say the truth (fierce discussions) bring the best result. What also contributes is getting to know each other personally in addition to the work relationship you develop. When you have a better picture of what a person is like, you can better understand him/her.
Accept (and embrace) the change
New ERP software brings about change and that means, in a number of cases, you can no longer do what you are used to do. Sometimes, even after eight weeks of workshops, key users still just notice what they miss in the system and not the huge step forward they will make. How do you turn this around? Again, openness and awareness are the key elements. For sure the change is going to happen, thus the key user needs to evolve. The project manager, the steering committee and the consultants have the important task to signal these troubles in time and take the right actions. If they don’t, the project is in danger. Mutual understanding is important here; on the one hand, one should not hang on to the past, but on the other hand, there should also be a sense of understanding why someone is finding it difficult to cope with the change.
Do not be afraid to make decisions
ERP software connects administrative processes, making the primary business activities more efficient. This means that choices must be made regarding the business processes and setup of the system. By clearly defining in which areas the project group can make decisions you ensure this process goes a lot faster and easier. The project group must have the mandate to jointly take decisions. Of course, there are also topics where the steering committee must decide on, but the implementation is more likely to be successful and efficient when the project group is permitted to take decisions.
Pay attention to continuity
In addition to the time they spend with the consultant, key users should be given the opportunity to spend time on the implementation themselves. Defining and testing processes, creating work instructions, training end users; this will take a lot of time. But you also have the ongoing daily business. With respect to continuity, it is important to find the right balance here. Being able to spend enough time to successfully implement the software, without compromising the daily business routine.
Conclusion; a successful ERP implementation goes far beyond the installation, conversion and setup. Open communication, mutual understanding, decisiveness and continuity are human aspects in a successful implementation.
Rahana Soedhoe is Senior Consultant at Dysel and helps organizations to work more efficiently with the companywide deployment of software applications.