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How will you make your ERP or CRM Decision?

We have all heard of the stupendous failures of IT projects such as Woolworths in 2015 spending over $200M moving from a 30 year old legacy system to SAP and Hershey’s ERP failure in 2014, which cost the company over US $150M in sales.

The sad story is, that it isn’t only the large multi-national and international organisations that make costly mistakes with their technology decisions and implementations. It can also happen to smaller companies, and it is not uncommon for many finance and business software projects to “go off the rails”.

However, these implementation failures are not necessarily the failure of the technology solution. The failure begins a lot earlier in the story with organisations having no defined selection process or methodology often coupled with not documenting their requirements in enough detail and therefore selecting an inappropriate ERP or CRM for their business.  Additionally, most have not truly understood the real investment of staff time and money that will be required to deliver a successful outcome.

CMC’s Easy to Follow 10 Step Method

The ERP and CRM Vendor and Solution landscape is changing constantly. An ERP Evaluation Methodology will provide you with a pragmatic and auditable process, with clear decision points along the way that will lead to a deterministic outcome.

CMC uses a 10 Step Evaluation Methodology that has been proven to be successful for hundreds of clients.

We recommend that you do not skip any of these steps. If you do this properly, the following 10 steps will usually take between 8 – 12 weeks depending on the complexity of your project.

Tell-Tale Signs that you need an Evaluation Method

In our experience, ERP and CRM Evaluations that go wrong lead to implementations that go wrong.

Tell-tale signs indicate that there is often:

  • No process or methodology in place to determine the best Vendor and Solution for the business.
  • Minimal consideration of what good practices in business processes should look like.
  • Minimal executive engagement and support (E.g. “the IT Department will look after the project”)
  • Lack of planning and understanding of what it really takes.
  • Poor quality planning, governance, and documentation.
  • Little commitment to the Change Management that is required.

CMC’s Top 5 Tips

An ERP or CRM Evaluation requires a pragmatic and auditable methodology with a detailed project plan of activities. Roles and responsibilities will need to be defined and the schedule must be realistic. It is also essential for you to provide your staff with visibility of their involvement and what you will expect of them during the ERP or CRM Evaluation process.

Here are our Top 5 tips to help you with your new ERP or CRM journey.

1.         Executive Engagement

It is imperative that your Senior Executives and/or Board are fully supportive of the decision to proceed with assessing a new ERP for the business. An evaluation is a critically important exercise that will require focused effort from senior management and business process owners.

Vendors will also invest significant amounts of time and money responding to your Request for Proposal (RFP) and Demonstration requirements, so it is respectful to the Vendors that the process has the commitment to lead to a buying decision.

It is CMC’s recommendation that if the business is not ready to embark on the evaluation process, whether it be existing business priorities, staff availability or budget oriented; it may be best to postpone the assessment until the business is move forward.

2.         Know the Expected Benefits of a New ERP or CRM Before You Start

It is important to clearly understand why your organisation wants to implement a new ERP or CRM Solution. We see many organisations who are dissatisfied with their existing vendor and solution however, this is often not enough reason to throw away what you have and to start all over again.

It is critical that you understand the hard benefits of moving away from your existing technology. It is also necessary to know what the actual costs to the business will be and when you will expect to see a return on your investment.

It is good practice to map out the costs not only for the acquisition of new software and new infrastructure or cloud subscriptions but also the subsequent implementation. This will include activities such as data sourcing, cleansing, conversion and migration, new business processes, organisational change on the business and training etc.

3.         Experienced Project Management

Ensure you have an experienced and dedicated Project Manager to facilitate the ERP or CRM Evaluation process. This role is critical for bringing your staff on the journey and making sure that the right people are doing the right thing at the right time.  This will be a key success factor.

The Project Manager will prepare a detailed plan of scheduled activities including the key milestones, tasks, dates, duration and costs of any external parties that will be involved. They will also facilitate the documentation of your business requirements and interactions between your in-house Evaluation Team and the Vendors.

4.         Select the Right People for your Evaluation Team

The staff that you select to be on your Evaluation Team must be senior people, who are enthusiastic and supportive of your ERP or CRM Evaluation and clearly understand the reasons why your organisation is going to the market for a new solution to support the business.  These people become the change agents for the business transformation or transition process.

Lack of adequate resources during the Evaluation Stage will most likely flow through to the Implementation Stage, so it is essential that you have senior management commitment to resourcing the project with internal and / or contracted staff from the outset.

5.         Focus on Change Management

As soon as you’ve made the decision to evaluate a new ERP or CRM solution, it is important to communicate this to your employees and staff. You may not know the specific solution you will end up with, but it’s never too soon to start communicating the goals of the upcoming project.

Evaluating and implementing a new solution for any organisation will involve a significant amount of change. We therefore recommend that a Change Management Strategy and Communication Plan are prepared early in the process to guide your intentions and to inform your staff.

Our clients have found that open and honest communication increases staff “buy in” throughout the project. If you involve your staff before you select the new ERP or CRM, your employees will be able to provide useful input, which further increases “buy in”.

Employee “buy-in” is also critical after the implementation. Companies that experience “software issues” after implementation are usually often just experiencing the effects of low employee “buy in”.

By starting the change management activities early, you will maximise adoption of the new ERP or CRM solution and new business processes after “go live”, ensuring the new ERP or CRM delivers the expected business benefits.

Effective change requires strong internal leadership and ongoing executive support whilst the organisation transitions to a future state

Peter Goes - Managing DirectorCombined Management Consultants