6 Tasks to Accomplish Before Drafting the ERP Blueprint

While out visiting with prospective clients we noticed that many companies make a mistake right at the get-go of their ERP implementations. We observed their tendency to jump straight into the blueprint phase without first accomplishing important and necessary tasks which set the tone for the rest of the project. This compelled us to share with you what we consider to be the 6 steps companies must take at the outset to increase their implementation’s chance of success.

1.  Set the Vision and Executive Agenda – before launching into the blueprint the executive team needs to do their part to lay the ground work for success. To build this foundation for change top executives need to simply do their job – set the vision, set management participation expectations, and cull the organization of programs and initiatives that will distract from the focus that needs to be applied to be successful in the blueprint. We can’t emphasize this point enough; developing a compelling story for change that the business will rally around is not a simple task if not driven by crisis. Senior teams need to give thoughtful consideration to the future business model of the organization and develop the elevator talking points that all members of the executive team can rally around.

2.  Confront Reality – there are going to be some difficult decisions that are going to need to be made during blueprint. These decisions will set the course of how the business will operate for many years. Before entering the blueprint phase, bring the management team together to put the big issues on the table. Your system integrator (SI) should also be pushed before blueprint to define the big decisions that will be required. (Learn how to amplify the value of your system integrator here).Once this list of “big decisions” has been established, prioritize them by determining which are most critical to achieving the future vision. Tracking the progress on these big decisions is a good metric that the executive team should hold themselves accountable to in support of the blueprinting process.

3.  Set the Decision Making Process – once the big decisions to be made are on the table, establish clear guidelines on the final authority in the decision making process. It is vital that you move from the blueprint phase to the build phase with confidence.  Confidence comes from the recognition that decisions made in the blueprint will not be second guessed. This does not imply that all the decisions made during blueprint will be perfect; there will be decisions that will need to be revisited as the solution comes together.

4.  Assemble the Facts – the last thing you should want during the blueprint phase is to have a boat load of consultants gathering and collecting information out of your legacy systems to support the decision making in blueprint. These consultants don’t understand your business or the data in your legacy systems. Use your internal talent to build up the information required to support decisions prior to the start of blueprint. (Learn how to train your internal team to maximize the value of your Accenture, Deloitte & IBM consultants here). Your SI should be able to provide a reasonable inventory of the data that will be needed.

5.  Commit to Quick Hit Process – confirm that the plan for blueprint will produce a set of activities that can be launched immediately. The execution of these tasks should not be dependent on the resources assigned to the project team. The leadership and accountability for the successful completion of these activities should be assigned to members of the executive team so they can demonstrate commitment to the program via action. Visible leadership responsibilities assigned to the executive team will also help identify those that might be more inclined to stand on the sidelines.

6.  Get a View from the Balcony – with all of the action that is taking place during the course of the blueprint, it is often difficult to develop perspective on how things are going when you are an actor in the play. It can be extremely useful to assign an experienced executive as independent observer that will provide unbiased views of progress and status. If a qualified executive is not available, then consider employing an external observer to offer unbiased views of progress. The best advice often times comes from those with the least at stake.

Once your team has completed the 6 steps described above, you should be prepared to enter the blueprint phase with confidence.

We welcome your questions, feedback and comments regarding what you consider to be the keys to success at the start of an implementation.