Living with your “ERP”!

and How to get the best from the relationship.

 

Relationships aren’t easy

After an ERP go-live, there is usually a sigh of relief and an expectation that like new labour in ’97, “things can only get better”.  With a shiny new system and an enthusiastic team, the business is looking forward to the dawn of a streamlined, more empowered era in partnership with the ERP provider.

Sadly, there are many factors as to why an ERP product fails to meet the expectations of the business.  Poor implementations are often the root cause, but ’planning for the peace’ is also too often a key part of the problem.  Here are a few key areas that an agency needs to focus on - after go live, to ensure they maximise the opportunities of moving onto a new ERP platform.

Underestimation of Complexity

The modern ERP system can be a complex technology framework underpinned by financial and functional workflows.  The project implementation cycle is designed to minimise any flaws within a chosen system but it’s almost impossible to guard against these entirely.  If you are involved in a good implementation, then you will know about the possible ‘weak points’ within the system, a poor implementation will deliver them as a surprise - a post implementation plan however, should always have a provision in place to deal with any problems encountered along the way.   

Underestimation of Administrative skill sets

A modern systems accountant is often referred to as a ‘hybrid accountant’, they need the accounting knowledge, good functional knowledge of reporting and tech, along with knowledge of the specific software you’re deploying.

The level of complexity within a modern ERP system means with implementation cycles reducing usually to limit cost, there is simply not enough time allowed to transfer all the knowledge to people who are then responsible for managing the system after go-live.  

A business can minimise the impact of complexity by partnering with a business systems consultancy who know the technology and have the expertise to chaperon your business through the critical settling period.  This partnership allows your incumbent team’s knowledge to build without having to fulfil the gap with additional staff.   

This also ensures any post implementation changes are handled correctly so as to not compromise the existing ERP structure or design.  Ill-advised early system changes can be a significant factor in the failure of the ERP platform.

Underestimation the Reporting Process

Most businesses have 30 to 40 key reports that are essential to financial and operational management.  These reports are usually completed satisfactorily to keep the business moving to the live date.  After the go live, the finance team learn of additional information requirements that are missing from the go-live reporting suite.   

There are several factors as to why this might happen. The business fails to keep you informed of all their data requirements or the change to business process and additional data collection prompts a re-think of the requirement, so the initial go-live often sees the finance / reporting team on the back foot trying to manage sharp increases in information demand.

It is important that the business captures awareness of these crunch points and has the capacity to deal with them.  Failure to meet reporting gaps can cause users to migrate back to their old ways pulling data from different sources, typically into Excel, and aside from ensuring the propagation of disconnected and potentially unreliable information, the intended primary benefits of single data entry and one-source of the truth are gone.

Phase 1, Phase 2

Throughout the implementation cycle, decisions are being made about prioritisation of ‘phase 1’ v’s ‘phase….’  Prioritisation is the only way you’ll ever reach the go live date, but failure to properly manage and plan the next phase can be a key point of failure for systems acceptance.

Phase planning should be defined as early as possible and agreed with your business. 

Phase 2 users usually have to work around until that point, so always sell the decision to them so they know it’s temporary and understand that it’s still a priority.

Insure Success

These are a few points of a post implementation plan that are often overlooked. The failure of managing expectations after go-live, can have the same impact of a poor implementation in defining the perceived success or failure of all that hard work.

Agency DNA are experts in helping businesses through these transitions.

With our commitment to ensuring agencies maximise the benefit of their new vendor partnerships, we not only oversee full implementation cycles but we’re there nurture long term best use of the system as well.

We implementation partner to many of the ERP platforms you use, and are well tuned to the importance of managing both sides of ERP relationships to ensure the system’s shape is for your business success.