The start of each school year is met with excitement and nervousness as students look forward to new teachers and classmates. But the excitement of the first week of class is doused when the homework schedule is published. Students do their best to mitigate the impact of homework on social activities, but the reality is that summer is over.

ERP implementation teams often fall into a similar trap. Client team members are assigned to the ERP project with the excitement of a new challenge. However, team members typically have a day job, and it’s impossible to commit them fully to the ERP implementation. ERP project tasks are often considered homework and the level of effort is underestimated, leading to missed milestones. “The dog ate my homework” is not a good excuse when data is not cleansed, reports aren’t designed, system functionality hasn’t been tested, training materials are not developed, and end users aren’t prepared.

How can the ERP project team avoid missing their homework deadlines? By admitting that extra help is needed and focusing on the important tasks. The most successful ERP teams:

Assign Critical Tasks to the Best and Brightest

A recent CIO Magazine Panel in Houston indicated assigning the wrong resources as the number one or number two reason for why ERP implementations fail. Implementation quality and schedule is directly impacted by how well and timely ERP homework assignments are done. Critical report, process, and master table definitions need to be completed early in the project to allow the systems integrator to configure the system for testing. The foundational decisions for reporting structures and item, customer, and vendor definitions need to be made by the most capable in the organization. Unfortunately, those employees are often distracted when other non-ERP project issues arise.

Focus on Processes and Reporting

It is easy to be distracted by the number of features and functions that are supported by ERP packages. Various studies by the Gartner Group and other organizations have shown that less than 15% of available functionality will support critical requirements. System integrators have a natural tendency to encourage the use of as many features and functions as possible. Focusing on all features and functions is distracting and creates unnecessary homework. Moreover, additional features overcomplicate the business process. Project teams need to have a laser focus on the future state reporting and process requirements. Clients should push back on system integrators if a feature or function does not make sense.

Don’t Count on the System Integrator to Throw the Red Flag

System integrators will make assumptions regarding expected customer work requirements in ERP implementation contracts. The level of effort is often understated by the system integrator during the sales and pre-implementation planning processes. Once the project starts, system integrators assign work to the customer and quickly focus on system configuration tasks. Customer team members are not actively managed and lack the experience to know when it’s time to request help. Someone from the customer team should monitor assignments and know when to request additional assistance or time to complete homework.

Get External Help

Most parents will quickly hire a tutor if their child is struggling with schoolwork. Similarly, company leaders should not hesitate to hire third-party assistance to help internal team members be successful. The right third party should be independent, able to come up to speed quickly, provide simple answers, and share external knowledge with client team members. The third party can also throw the red flag at the right time to ensure implementation success.

Trenegy helps companies successfully manage ERP implementations using a proprietary project and change management methodology. We help our clients get value of out their new system quickly and relatively painlessly.

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