Recently I had the privilege of working with one of our clients reviewing their current state processes and helping them develop their future state processes that they wanted to implement in conjunction with the deployment of their new ERP system. They understood the benefits of the event, which were the following:
- Understanding their future-state requirements, helping the system implementation team to complete their requirements documentation and implementation of effective and efficient process
- Providing the foundation to migrate and optimize processes to further the success of the business in their immediate future and within the next 3 to 5 years
- Building quality and flexibility into their future state processes
- Developing and maintaining documentation on business processes
- Facilitating continuous improvement of processes and practices
- Aligning their people, process and technology for successful implementation of the project
The client was very grateful at the sessions and they felt they were important to their success of the ERP implementation as well as supporting the growth of their business.
As I was wrapping up the final session and taking final questions before leaving the site, the final question that was asked was one of the most compelling that I have received in recent memory. The question was stated as follows:
“Thank you for helping us with our future state! How do we implement it?”
I paused, then I restated the question as “So you have your future state! Now what?” This is one of the first times I had ever been asked the question but felt it is one of the most critical in the realization of the ideal future state.
I then went through several enablers that over the 22 years I have observed that work toward successful clients who implement their future state.
- The first enabler was to identify the subject matter experts from each portion of the organization that can be pulled from their daily activities and be dedicated to a project implementation team. The importance of this cannot be understated. If you have a subject matter expert on the implementation team that still performs their normal duties, implementation time will be extended and the quality of the implementation will be in jeopardy. Back fill these positions in order to make sure the day to day operations are supported appropriately. After implementation, the key project team can return to their normal positions or continue in their subject matter expert role for future improvements involving the ERP system.
- The second enabler is identifying a leader (business process owner) from each group or department that can work with the implementation team. The key responsibilities of this person are to help with identifying requirements for their group to implement in the new system, escalate any issues to the project team on behalf of their department, test the system and approve of the implementation testing before go live.
- A third enabler is conducting Business Process Reengineering sessions. This will benefit the company by making sure they do not put existing, poor processes into their new system. This helps to get the most out of a very critical system investment. Also, the system implementation company benefits greatly from these sessions. Their sole focus is to implement the specifications that the customers give them. They are not focused on improving the processes, only to implement the system on time and on budget. By being involved in these sessions, they can gain upfront insight on the best processes to implement for the project, create and refine their specifications documentation faster than without BPR sessions, and provide guidance on how certain aspects of a process can work within their system.
- A fourth enabler is to have an exceptional project manager who is able to bring the project to fruition. The project manager has to make sure that the implementation team stays on schedule, avoids scope creep, and is able to effectively manager all resources (including budget) accordingly. Being able to mitigate issues, escalate and resolve issues in a timely fashion with the help of the strategic management team, and constantly communicate per the project management communication plan is essential to the success of the project.
- A fifth enabler is the consistent use of organizational change management throughout the life of the project. Being able to constantly assess the gap between the current and future state of the organization is vital to how change is managed for everyone in the company. The need to assess the amount of change required, the amount of change required of the system versus the previous system, the amount of change of behaviors and skills needed in the new system, and the reaction of the change by those affected is imperative to measure and address on an ongoing basis. Resolution of these change management areas is vital to the success of the organization in the future state.
Having worked with organizations to implement ERP systems, I have seen companies that do not have these enablers in place. When this occurs, the projects take longer to implement, the systems are poorly received by the employees, and the investment is not fully realized post implementation. This leads to a sense of failure for all involved.
Upon giving this advice to our client, they were very receptive to the information and were excited to that at least one of the enablers (BPR) was just completed for their future state realization. I also realized in that moment that our organization (Liberty Technology Advisors) is well positioned to help a client to implement all enablers within their organization, helping clients answer the question “Now what?”