Implementing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) in a growing business is often the most significant yet risky step in its transition from start-up to maturity. The following Mark Jocumsen’s 7 top tips to increase the chances of successfully selecting and implementing an ERP system in your business.

  1. Appreciate the risks

    Investing in an ERP project is not like any other capital investment. Purchasing the wrong piece of plant or equipment could result in writing-off the cost of the investment, a failed ERP project could cost the business far more than just the implementation cost. By definition, an ERP system manages all the core business process on one real-time database. Issues with the ERP data, processes, performance or training can easily prevent the business from taking sales orders, purchasing stock, completing work orders, shipping finished goods and receiving payments. To make things worse, there is no undo button on an ERP implementation. The bottom line is that your approach to selecting and implementing an ERP should reflect the fact that businesses have been brought to their knees by failed ERP projects in the past.

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  3. Develop a justifiable business case

    Do not start talking to ERP vendors until you have a compelling business case to justify the risk and investment associated with ERP. In a nutshell, don’t invest in ERP until you have no other choice. Until you are confident that the inefficiencies, risks and poor customer service offered by your current non-integrated, paper-based, home-grown, non-documented systems are a greater threat to the success of your business than an ERP project, don’t change

    ERP offers incredible improvements in process accuracy, internal communication, management reporting, service consistency and business controls. It is important to translate these new capabilities into tangible savings, revenue growth and risk reduction for the business. The business case must clearly explain how the project will pay for itself within 12 – 18 months of going live.,

  4. Nominate the right project sponsor

    If there is not an internal person with sufficient influence, determination and time to ensure the ERP project achieves its objectives, then it won’t. This person is the Project Sponsor. In an SME this should be a business owner or general manager. The project sponsor should NEVER be the IT manager because ERP is NOT an IT project. ERP is an organisational change and re-engineering project and must be treated as such. The job of the project sponsor is to select and work with the project manager to engage the select the appropriate ERP vendors and then deliver on the business case. The project sponsor must willingly accept ultimate responsibility for the success of the project.

  5. Focus on outcomes not functionality

    The most common mistake SME’s make when embarking on an ERP selection project is developing a long list of functionality requirements and then going to market to see which vendor can offer the most functionality at the lowest price. This approach leads to overly complicated projects, massive scope creep, lack of focus on the desired business outcomes and unrealistic go-live functionality expectations.

    The solution is to map the business processes needed to deliver the benefits contained in the business case and identify which of these must be working successfully at each go-live (assuming a phased approach is adopted). Pay particular attention to any processes which are unusual to your particular business or industry and cannot be changed. Ask these processed to be addressed first when gaining demonstrations from various ERP software/consulting vendors.

  6. Don’t trust ERP vendors/consultants

    ERP software and consulting providers are in business like all of us and they make a living from selling their particular solution to as many suitable clients as possible. As a general rulean ERP salesperson can honestly say their ERP system can be made to do anything. The grey area is how easily your requirement will be met and whether this is standard functionality or requires customisation. The ease of implementation, estimated project timeframes and quality of support are also areas that ERP salespeople can be forgiven for providing optimistic estimates.

    It is therefore important that you speak to existing users to verify vendor claims and have an experienced independent ERP Project Manager representing you during the evaluation process to ensure the “difficult” questions get asked and satisfactory answers provided.

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  8. Don’t stop until the benefits realised

    In the SME space where project budgets are comparatively small, ERP vendors and implementation consultants are paid to provide a working ERP platform that is “live” and has additional functionality to support the subsequent rollout into other areas of the business. Unfortunately the scope of the initial “go-live” is rarely sufficient to deliver on the business benefits on which the project was justified. Common examples of functionality left up to the client to implement after the initial “go-live” yet essential to delivering the desired project benefits, are production scheduling, shop floor time capture, advanced management reporting and customer relationship management. It is therefore essential that the Project Sponsor maintains the business focus on the project until the desired outcomes are achieved, rather than relaxing in relief after the initial “go-live”. It is here that an independent ERP Project Manager can be particularly valuable in ensuring the business remains committed to completing the “post go-live” rollout of ERP supported business processes needed to complete the project.

  9. 7. Engage an Independent ERP Project Manager

    Business owners would not dream of undertaking a significant expansion of their premises without engaging the services of an architect to ensure the plans are accurate and the construction company completes the project to specification. Unfortunately when it comes to ERP projects (which are generally far more complex and risky than a building project) business owners often think they can do the design, scoping, vendor selection and project quality control themselves. The result is often poorly scoped projects, unfulfilled expectations, conflict with vendors and negative outcomes. An independent ERP Project Manager will ensure all parties have clear expectations as to their responsibilities towards achieving project success. Most importantly an independent Project Manager will help the client business manage all the activities that fall outside the responsibility of the ERP consultants. Such activities will include the project business case, data preparation, stock-takes, change management, communications, training documentation and user acceptance testing.

    If you feel that your business systems are beginning to break down, or feel it is time to get your business processes “out of people’s heads” and into a reliable and integrated systems platform then I recommend you contact me to talk about the benefits of ERP and the best path forward. Because I do a lot of ERP evaluations for businesses I can save you significant time in developing your business case and shortlisting the ERP applications that are likely to meet your budget and business requirements.

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About us:

Better Business Outcomes is a family owned business improvement consultancy based in Toowoomba, Queensland. Founded by Mark and Melanie Jocumsen in 2007, Better Business Outcomes specializes in business improvement consulting, marketing strategy development, business idea validation, mentoring and ERP Project Management. 

Frequent Questions:

  • Can I view your privacy policy?

    We take privacy of client information very seriously. We comply with the stringent standard expected of any provider to the life insurance industry. Our privacy policy was last updated in February 2018 and can be viewed  by clicking this link.

  • Can you work with me in my location?

    Mark and Melanie serve clients nationally using phone and Skype.

    On-site consulting and ERP Project Management is available in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Warwick, Dalby and Ipswich areas. 

    Mark's public speaking and workshop facilitation is available Australia wide. 

  • What is your Performance Guarantee?

    Better Business Outcomes values its client relationships and undertakes to conduct our work and relationships at a high professional standard at all times.  We ask you to let us know immediately if any of our work or behaviour is below your expectations.  We will address your concerns at our cost.  If we are unable to satisfy you we will accept your desired fee reduction.

  • What types of businesses or industries do you work with?

    Melanie work's almost exclusively for the major Australian life insurance companies based in Sydney. She is engaged by the rehabilitation teams to help support their self employed income protection claimants re-establish their pre-disability income and come off claim. 

    The majority of Mark's clients are in manufacturing, trades and professional services. Mark seeks motivated, capable entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in the growth of their business. Mark also enjoys working in the not-for-profit sector. 


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