ERP implementation: An inside job

This from Eran Rozenfeld, Managing Director, Priority Software U.S. …

It’s early on a Monday morning and your organisation is just a few signatures shy of taking on a brand new business management system. You can’t contain your excitement because you’ve been working non-stop to get a new ERP system onto the bargaining table – or rather, the boardroom table.

Pretty soon, you’ll be in the company of an entire IT team, a host of other techies and your CEO, who you hope is primed and ready to sign the contract with your friendly neighbourhood ERP vendor. And because you’re in the running for ‘best man for the job’, you’ve been deemed the company’s in-house ERP Project Manager. This means that you’re responsible for leading the team onto the battlefield and if anything should go awry, that you’re also the last man standing.

Here’s some good advice before you suit up. “ERP implementation is an inside job.” That’s right. It’s not up to you or your IT team. It doesn’t depend on how impressive your ERP vendor is or how many references they have in tow. The decision to implement ERP into your organisation, be it big or small, rests on your company management. Your job is to have the right tools in your arsenal to persuade them to relinquish their outdated business management system and step up, literally, to a modern ERP solution.

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When I was an ERP Project Manager, convincing “the brass” was by far the most challenging hard sale of my career. 20 years later and still in the industry, I would like to share some helpful advice. Here are my fab-five – market-proven tips to help you bring ERP into your organisation:

Show & Tell – Present your current legacy systems, such as accounting, time and attendance, invoicing and sales, and how they interact. Select an easy process, such as issuing an invoice, and show how data moves between your systems and your spreadsheets and just how much tedious, manual work is involved in the process.
Tick Tock – Timing is everything, so I recommend not waiting until your current systems crash or can no longer serve your growing company’s needs. You don’t want to risk losing critical company and/or customer information or having to reenter lost data… by hand.
Copycats – Case studies are always crowd pleasers. It’s imperative that you show how your key competitors yielded high ROI once an ERP system was up and running. Show stats on how they lowered costs, resources and processes by automating workflows and reducing manpower to increase their productivity and efficiency.
IT: Your BFF – Make your IT/system admin team your best friend. Partner with them to better understand the on-premise hardware and software that’s serving your organisation. What are the costs involved, subscriptions, server upkeep, maintenance fees? Research and present these costs and match them against possible cost-saving alternatives, such as cloud-hosted ERP.
Do Due Diligence – Hit the books (or the Internet) and compile an RFP (Request for Proposal) for an ERP system. Even if you don’t have all the answers, get the ball rolling and put together everything you can on your company’s real needs, including a statement/purpose, background info, scope of work and anticipated budget, if available. Need help getting started? Check out this ERP RFP Template & Guide.

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If you’ve accepted the challenge, then you’re half way to reaching a ready audience. Be sure that your background research – all those graphs and charts and tables, are (next to) flawless. More importantly, get all your numbers neatly laid out before you take the stage. It’s up to you to help your management grasp the concept of ERP, realise its limitless value in the short and long term and ultimately, how it will tackle productivity and increase revenues. It might just take more than a meeting or two or ten, but when done right, ERP Project Manager will be the pinnacle of your career, just as it was for me.

Remember, you didn’t come this far only to come this far. Be patient. And good luck!

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