Engage in the evaluation. Many newer ERP vendors attempt to sell around IT. They assert that that the system is so simple that a business analyst can configure the system without IT support. If anyone in your enterprise has concerns about IT’s ability to deliver, political rivals may attempt to relegate IT to a secondary role. When this happens, critical infrastructure, data rationalization, security, and linkages to other systems are easily overlooked.
One enterprise ignored IT’s warning that spotty cell service in parts of Haiti, Chad, and other troubled areas would frustrate users of the new ERP. In order to gain user acceptance, executives were eventually forced to acquire satellite phones for selected individuals.
Insist on a robust organizational change management program. Organizational change management is important with any new system and absolutely critical with the newer ERPs. Many enterprises reduce or eliminate training, arguing that intuitive software eliminates the need. However, new ERP systems are usually accompanied by changes in delegation of authority, metrics, centralization/decentralization, etc. Most people find these changes disconcerting and demand to know how the system will impact them.
Newer ERP systems address many of the complaints that have dogged older ERPs for years. Prepare now before your ERP is ready to be upgraded or replaced. Study the market to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the different vendors. Position IT as a thought leader to ensure it is part of the selection and implementation team. Effective ERPs are a foundation system for virtually every enterprise. If IT’s role is limited during the ERP program, it will be difficult for IT to have a leadership role with other critical business systems.