ERP is for most, a daunting and overwhelming consideration – more so for the mid-market or medium sized organisation. By Heath Huxtable, head of consulting and software integration at Vox Telecom
The reality is that it is difficult to get right and unless you are dealing with experienced consultants, it is not only a costly undertaking, but brings a layer of complexity that is often grossly under-estimated.
The complexity of an ERP deployment and implementation is due largely to the fact that you’re dealing with the entire business operation – sales, procurement, marketing, stock management and everything in between. All of these units are businesses in their own rights, and to try and get a cohesive view of exactly what that requirement is, and to actually resolve it, is massive.
We’ve learnt over the years that sometimes the business decision makers are not the people who should be signing off on an ERP plan, for no other reason than at an operational level, they don’t necessarily understand the business best.
For example, we did an implementation for a business in the Western Cape, where we dealt with the CFO and CIO. During the planning and briefing discussions, we were asked not to engage with the staff – and we designed an entire solution without interacting with the people that would actually make use of the system.
When we were ready to deploy the solution, and started taking the users through the programme, we were told it didn’t fulfill their requirements, The project was delayed by three months, just to develop a solution that would meet the real-time requirements of the team dealing with the customers, suppliers and stock.
It was a critical turning point.
And today, our value as specialist consultants sees us advising companies that are considering ERP to include its users in the planning and briefing process. It is a considerable risk, having the decision makers dictate the business requirements. It leads to scope creep, delays and additional costs that could not have been anticipated at the start of the process.
According to independent ERP research conducted by Panorama Consulting Services, 30 percent of ERP projects fail because of a lack of change management, lack of user involvement, training, user and high-level adoption.
Increasingly, we are pointing our customers to cloud-based solutions.
Cloud based solutions simplify the ERP cost and complexity conundrum. And companies in the mid-market that are not 100% convinced of the benefit of a full-scale ERP deployment have additional routes that they can consider – it no longer needs to be an all or nothing discussion.
Move the ERP deployment into the cloud or implement a CRM solution that can integrate ERP tool sets as required. No organisation should ever feel like there is a one size fits all, cookie cutter approach to ERP, or in fact CRM.
Ultimately, this is a budget discussion. And when we engage with customers around ERP we talk about Capex vs Opex, and take cognisance of budget constraints. From there, we develop a deployment that best suits both finances and business requirements.
We see this as a significant benefit of working with a niche partner. A partner that differentiates, customises and develops its solutions to best meet customer needs.
The question we encourage businesses to ask is – as a small to medium business, why would you want to run things the same way as your competitor, on the same platform, with the same cookie cutter solution, when a niche opportunity exists that can be tailor-made to deliver a unique competitive advantage to your organisation?