ERP is a journey, not a destination
As the uptake of ERP increases into the smaller organisation, it is important to ensure the mind-set behind such implementations is correct. It is so easy to think of an ERP implementation as a magic bullet where once you go-live, you are inoculated against the dangers of inefficiency and non-value added processes. If only that were true!
There are many reasons why this viewpoint can be misguided.
Firstly, the breadth of ERP solutions means that any implementation will take many months. It is not unheard of that a business process will change during the timespan of an implementation project. The reaction to this can take many forms. Many will resist any form of scope creep at all costs. This is usually associated with a Waterfall type of implementation methodology. On the other hand, some
may embrace such process changes as this will show the value of the implementation. A quicker, Agile methodology will lend itself more to this environment.
Secondly, an ERP implementation makes you look closely at your business processes. This can bring about contention between staff as they disagree about departmental requirements and priorities. All this takes time to argue through and will also naturally change over time.
All this is before you consider the impact of the outside world on the business.
Growth over time will create the need for changes in business processes. In a smaller environment, a single person may be able to take an order through from intake to delivery and invoicing. As order volumes grow this becomes impractical and so departmentalisation occurs. After further growth, professionalization of departmental procedures makes a further impact on the way your systems need to operate.
And to top it all you have the influence of the competition on your internal behaviour. As your marketplace changes, so you need to change the way you work to keep up or maintain a leadership position.
So, for all of these reasons we can see that our implementation project will just not stand still. We are faced with trying to hit a constantly moving target. As a consequence we need to understand that even though we identify a go-live date, this is simply the date from which we start to use the software in a live environment. It does not signal the endpoint of any changes.
There is an imperative in business today to keep changing and this is no more important a concept than in your ERP implementation.