Part 3 – Is cloud based ERP an extremely risky project for SMEs?
Anderson Yates consultants have been asked to rescue three ERP projects in the past two months, all involving companies that employ less than 250 employees – deploying cloud based ERP. What went wrong for them and what lessons can be learned that will ensure your company doesn’t fall into the same traps? (Part 3)
This week’s article and case study is the final in the series asking if ERP implementation is an Extremely Risky Project for SMEs to undertake. Our final ERP implementation rescue is for a financial services company providing advice on various products. They have been implementing their ERP system for 18 months but have not yet adopted the solution for finance. The front office team has been using the Customer Relationship module to meet regulatory and internal sales management needs.
Case study 3 – Lessons from a Financial Services company ERP project rescue
Why has the solution not yet adopted after 18 months of implementation? That’s a great question and it was the same question the board was asking. I am unable to go into great lengths in disclosing this case as it is still ongoing. Sufficient to say that initial review of the implementation uncovered a number of basic errors. An example is the use of a text field instead of a drop down list which would have ensured data integrity. Additional entries can be added to the drop down list if an option was not available. There were in excess of 100 custom fields added to the Relationship Management module mainly in the Customer and Contacts records. Automation was deployed to create tasks and activities to support the business processes.
Do you have a System Design Document for the implementation? If you have read part 2, you know that this is one of the first questions our consultants would ask when reviewing an implementation. Unfortunately – no.
Do you have a documentation of your To Be Business Process? Again no. So how would they know once the system has been implemented if that’s the optimized business process?
Transformation delivered? No not yet. After discussing with the management team and explaining the implementation best practices that we use, we agreed that a re-implementation was the best solution. A fixed fee and fixed scope fast track implementation program was agreed with clearly defined scope, deliverables, timescale and tasks to be carried out.
Here is our Sales pitch ……
Are you in the process of setting up your ERP system and need additional resources? Do you need a fixed fee fixed scope ERP system implementation to ensure certainty and reduce risk on your part? Our consultants are experts in Netsuite, Sage, Deltek Vision, Microsoft Dynamics, Sales Force & FinancialForce CRM, ERP and Business Intelligence solutions. Call me on 01223 257769 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org if you need an impartial advice and assistance. We will carry out an initial ERP health check review.
Key lessons learned from 3 case studies :
- ERP Project failures are not limited to location, size, industry or sector.
- Ensure you have a clear understanding of your optimum To Be Processes and reports and KPIs needs.
- Team training is important to set expectations and promote buy in from the start.
- Ensure you involve and focus the ERP project on all departments. Even if you do not intend to roll out the system for certain departments immediately, explain the timescale and why decisions at the initial stage have impact on every department. Engage all process owners throughout the project lifecycle, right through to go live and do not make assumptions on their behalf.
- Do not skip or short cut on User Acceptance Testing stage. Ensure that a thorough User Acceptance Testing is carried out before go live. It must include all current and potential scenarios. Run an end to end process testing not just segment tests.
- The choice of consultants matter for your ERP project success.
- We cannot over emphasize the importance of training. It reduces frustration and stress. Get help early if you think the system is not behaving as you expect. If you think something is wrong – you are usually right.
- Ensure that you or your supplier documents your new ERP processes including details of the configuration options and the reason why they were selected. Update the document after go live as soon as possible and carry out final configuration check.
- Ensure that you examine the consultants’ implementation methodology and plan to ensure they make sense and provide sufficient time and attention to adoption as well as implementation process. Flag up any concerns or issues early and seek another independent advice if required.
- Choose fixed scope and fixed price fast implementation option if possible to reduce uncertainty and risk and to get the ERP solution ready for testing as soon as possible. Any potential issues can be identified earlier and addressed.
SMEs have the opportunity to upgrade their often non-integrated business management solutions with cloud native fully integrated ERP. These systems offer lower cost of ownership, less risk, increase efficiency and provide flexibility and scalability to meet increasing business complexities. Implemented and adopted properly, ERP provides a great Return on Investment (ROI) for fast growth and internationally focused SMBs. However, as lessons learned above shows,there are pitfalls and “gotchas”. As SMEs place increasing demands on suppliers and resellers to implement ERP solutions to meet their needs, there will be a shortage of experienced consultants, project and change managers. The choice of consulting firm will become more important to ensure successful outcome.