How to Deliver Transformational ERP Performance


In Parts 1 – 4 of our Building the ERP Team series, we outlined best practices related to staffing ERP transformation teams. Now we will look at best practices that will help you maximize the efficiency of the intellectual supply chain required to deliver transformational performance to your organization.

The last critical element required to develop your high performance ERP implementation team is the establishment of the internal project business processes that maximize the value delivered through the intellectual supply chain you have assembled. Be aware, however, because there are a several traps that teams can fall into:

  • The bias towards containing implementation costs favors maintaining existing solutions over migrating to best practices. This has the opposite long-term effect, though, as configuration challenges tend to push dates out and increase overall costs.
  • Because program managers often fear talent rotation risks, they tend to retain high cost talent for tasks lower grades are capable of doing. As a result they over pay for the implementation and increase the probability that top talent will look for more challenging work elsewhere.
  • Teams can get sidetracked by the ways in which things could have been done differently. Perpetuation of this mindset causes schedule delays and scope changes.
  • Teams sometimes focus on the IT system at the expense of the business solution. Teams that don’t recognize the change management and data enrichment required to deploy the cohesive solution end up extending deadlines and relieving the system integrator (SI) of its contractual obligations to deliver on time and on budget.

In order to lead a successful ERP enabled transformation effort, follow these four best practices:

1.  Develop Visible Client Control – You must establish control early and lay out clear expectations regarding the SI and independent consultants’ roles and contributions. This control can be demonstrated in a number of ways:

  • Visible Leadership – whether through presentations to senior management, reviews with business areas, or program team town halls, you should always take the lead. This confirms that you are in control. Facing these audiences also makes you responsible for understanding all of the material.
  • Scope Control – SIs are notorious for penetrating your organization and expanding the original project scope. This type of action needs to be reined in until there is a demonstrated need.
  • Program Reporting – 80% of the value of ERP status reports is derived by the authors themselves. Relinquishing this task to your SI will give them control over this value.
  • Enforcing Knowledge Transfer – track completion of knowledge transfer landmarks to reinforce commitment to cut dependence on external resources.

2.  Formal Solution Reviews –Implement formal reviews by SI supplier experts, top-tier independent consultants, and critical stakeholders to align your team on workable solutions. Reviews should include:

  • Best practice confirmation from your SI with a sign-off from the independent consultants and ERP vendor.
  • Documented integration assumptions that outline all interface points regarding automation and manual processes.
  • Confirmation from business executives that the process supports the overall business case and that they clearly understand the resource allocation they will be required to support: testing, data preparation, training, and deployment.
  • Conclude by assigning clear responsibilities for building the future solution.

3.  Implement rigorous staffing reviews – Recognizing that external staff and internal resource participation is critical to ensuring on time delivery of the program, it is crucial to develop the business processes that surround this intellectual supply chain. Important parts of these processes include:

  • Demand Forecasting and Supply Commitment – securing future resource delivery often involves extensive participation of the executive sponsor. A key ingredient to the secret sauce of success is providing enough lead time to providers of both internal and external resources.
  • Productivity Assessments – program estimates are derived with specific productivity assumptions in mind. Program managers need to examine team productivity to confirm assumptions and retool or replace where necessary.
  • Succession Planning – lowering the ongoing cost structure of the program is an evolution, not an event. Thoughtful succession planning and development of program documentation facilitates this evolution.

4.  Maintain a Holistic Program Focus -Your SI will try to direct your attention to items for which it is accountable – even announcing when it is time to go-live. It is, however, up to you to maintain a balanced view and drive performance and decision making for the program. This includes:

  • Focus on the crucial path and ensure execution of critical steps. Delaying early decisions contributes to missing budget and schedule expectations.
  • Develop solid metrics for training and data that are on equal footing with solution development. Often these metrics carry a lower priority for the SI as they are not personally responsible for their delivery.
  • Keep risk management at the forefront of PMO activities. Actively engage your SI and user management organization to communicate actions that mitigate risk and safeguard contingency plans.

Summarizing our series we will leave you with three overarching best practices that should guide your ERP transformation talent application strategy:

1.  Recognize talent as a key success factor & commit to implementing an ongoing talent management process

2.  Establish specific risk mitigating and success ensuring criteria for sourcing internal, independent and SI talent

3.  Institute program business systems that allow for the amplification of value and the control of costs

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