Magazine article Government Finance Review

ERP's Second Wave: Post-Implementation Best Practices. (State of the Art)

Magazine article Government Finance Review

ERP's Second Wave: Post-Implementation Best Practices. (State of the Art)

Article excerpt

Editor's note: This article is adapted with permission from Deloitte Consulting's global research report, "ERP's Second Wave: Maximizing the Value of Enterprise Applications and Processes." For a copy of the full report, visit Deloitte Consulting on the Internet at www.dc.com.

As Columbus proved, you do not fall off the edge of the world, you just keep going. The same holds true for ERP. Until now, however, conventional wisdom viewed going live as the end of the ERP journey. This view is simply outdated. Going live with ERP is the end of the beginning of a more rewarding, long-term journey that enables continuous improvement-from increased efficiency to greater agility and innovation to redefined customer relationships.

There are at least two distinct waves of ERP-enabled enterprise transformation. The first wave refers to the changes that include and accompany going live with an enterprise system. The second wave refers to the actions taken after going live. The goal is not to implement new technology for technology's sake alone, but to maximize the value of enterprise applications. The 12 post-implementation best practices presented below will help organizations reap all of the benefits of ERP-enabled processes.

Focus on Capabilities and Benefits, Not Just Going Live

In the scheme of things, the bright star of going live-large as it looms at the time-is only a point. It is not the point, which should be the full constellation of business benefits realized over time. Improved cost structures. More effective business processes. Better, more valuable customer relationships. Benefits are why you embarked on the journey in the first place, and each one should be a milestone on the way to the full power of the integrated enterprise. Successful organizations may miss a scheduled date to go live, but they never miss out on an expected benefit.

Align the Organization on the True Destination

The destination does not reside in some mission statement or memo, and even the most elaborate rollout will not, by itself, make the destination real. This lesson rings even more true after going live, when all the previous known quantities are suddenly up in the air. Where to now? When will all these loose ends be tied up?

Sensing it is really not over at go-live, people will be relieved to know that there is more to come-that it is all part of a broader plan. This is a time to ensure that everyone in the organization has the same vision about the original motivations for implementing ERP-enabled processes. Only then can an organization really know how close its ERP program is to being complete.

Aligning on the destination, then, is a hearts-and-minds issue that requires special focus on people: communication, expectations management, education, and executive-level support. Successful organizations keep all eyes trained on the destination. Post-implementation initiatives are no different. Milestones and priorities need to be established, the dependencies between initiatives need to be identified and synchronized, and staff need to be effectively deployed. Process designs, educational materials, role transitions, retention programs for the project team-nothing is left to chance.

Achieve Balanced People, Process, and Technology Changes across All Areas

Organizations undertaking the ERP journey must make changes and take actions in all areas of the modern enterprise. They need best-of-breed technology tools, the most effective work processes, people who are trained and motivated, and, ultimately, a strategy that fully leverages these new organizational abilities for competitive advantage. Far from being a one-dimensional project, the ERP journey must keep change in play-a fact that successful organizations never forget before, during, and, especially, after going live.

Apply Program Management Practices throughout the Program Cycle

If there's one thing organizations should have mastered by the time they go live, it is program management and planning. …

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