“We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto”: 9 ERP Software Lessons to Avoid Witches and Glitches During Selection and Implementation

el mago de ozThe Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz once asked, “What have you learned, Dorothy?”  Her answer reflected an incredible journey that not only involved witches and flying monkeys, but also three travel companions.

We’ve traveled the yellow-brick road of ERP Software Selection and Implementation with many clients and different industries. Based on these journeys, we’ve identified nine “we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” lessons to recommend for leaving behind your antiquated or inefficient ERP system:

  1. To reach your “Emerald City” destination, your team must learn to manage expectations. Most things can be accomplished given the time and the money but delivering the project on time and on budget is key. When significant exceptions occur (watch out for those sleep-inducing poppies), you need to develop contingency plans, implement corrective actions and inform key stakeholders about your next course of action.
  2. Insist on a broad and effective communication plan to your entire organization to mitigate surprises and frustration. That includes stakeholders, customers, employees, vendors and anyone else who will be affected by the change(s).
  3. Expectations are captured in your design requirements. Keep all stakeholders, users, support staff and project team members focused on delivering these requirements and avoiding scope creep.
  4. Select a wise Wizard, a project manager who will control scope, budget, change requests, software and hardware provider issues, and can be called upon to referee between internal resources. The less control, the more flying monkeys will wreak havoc.
  5. Assign the right people to your strategic projects. No scarecrows needed on this journey! These proven resources must be completely focused on your important project and need to be backfilled by internal or temporary resources to ensure both operational and project success.
  6. Focus heavily on data quality and timely data migration. Just because the data works great in your current system doesn’t mean it will work in your new system. Start bringing it into the new system as early as possible so you can test it out.
  7. System testing must happen at the forefront of your project deliverables. Do not underestimate the time required to thoroughly test at the unit, integration and system levels and prepare developers, project management and users for these critical steps in the implementation process. Keep the Tin Man well oiled!
  8. Since you took the time to build it, provide training so those affected know what to do with it. Not only should training be done before going live, but a week or two later when people have had time to adjust and, like Dorothy’s lion friend, find the courage to bring up more questions. It’s a good time to reiterate new features and shortcuts.
  9. Plan your project launch with some breathing room. Don’t migrate to a new system during your busiest time. Bring employees and team members in on the weekend to try the new system without the pressure of the “normal” work day and customers. Always have a solid core of support resources available full time during the first few days or even weeks of a new system launch.

According to Glinda, the good witch, everything Dorothy learned she had to learn herself. But you can travel with others who have journeyed down a similar road that you are facing. Read a case study to learn how a new ERP system facilitated growth goals for a client.

Remember: Avoid witches and flying monkeys — travel with friends!

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