Why Process Excellence is key for a successful ERP Implementation

Bhavisha Kataria

I have been reflecting on my experiences working on ERP implementation/upgrade programmes whilst also listening and hearing to what others have to say.

I think back to these projects and notice everyone was working hectically towards the programme ‘Go – Live’ and were under the impression that once they achieved this Go - Live then we have successfully implemented a new ERP System and our job is complete. I think many people can agree with me that a Go – Live date is just the start of the journey.  We have got to think about the people, culture, education, efficiency in processes and where can we reduce ‘waste’.

There were a few questions that popped into my mind while thinking about the above, so here we go:

  • Why can we never get the requirements correct up front?
  • Why do we always focus on the system and forget about the end user experience?
  • What is my role and how does it fit within in the new system/business processes?
  • Why is adoption not successful?
  • Why do we focus purely on system training rather than system and process education combined?

I know as soon as you hear the word “Process” everyone automatically thinks of just process maps that is not always pleasing on the eye and can be complicated to read – but there is more to it. It is bigger than just boxes, shapes and swim lanes. Process Excellence is an integral part to overcoming the above and ensuring the adoption is successful (while focusing on the end users, their feelings and the problem areas).

There are a few things that can help us overcome the issues we face around adoption of ERP Implementation programmes in regards to Process Excellence;  

Requirements Up Front and Process visualisations

The worst thing is investing or sticking with a system that does not work for a business and the way they operate. An integral element of any implementation programme is understanding the business and the ways of working. What are the problem areas of a process? Understanding these requirements help a solution to be designed and built. Furthermore, a business process should represent the design intent, not just focus on the system but how the system fits into the bigger picture. These process maps focus on the pain points, waste areas were productivity/efficiency is low e.g. due to duplication. As we know the more people are valued and cared for the more they will go above and beyond for their organisation. Making their lives easier helps! 

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How does my role fit into the bigger picture?

A company cannot expect full optimisation when ERP implementation programmes just focus on the system. There is no system without the people and you must consider exactly what they need, how they do it and what their role is, “ how do I fit into this bigger picture?” Role guides are required to clearly define different responsibilities and this will help employees understand the importance of their role and what the upstream/downstream impact is if they miss something. 

Culture, behaviour and change

One of the problems we see quite often is the concept of “resistance to change” and we see this not just with end users but at all levels of the stakeholders. For many people change can be a scary thought. We need to encourage organisations to embrace transformation and cascade down. This will help increase productivity but also encourage acceptance and continuous improvement.

What is training without a process – use a blended approach

Training is always referred to as a necessity but it is often reduced when budget overruns are encountered.  ERP training is complex as it extends beyond learning a new software interface to learning a new set of processes and understanding how users utilise the new ERP system to carry out day-to-day business requirements.

Without business processes you are just being trained on a system – that is it.

Training development and learning being an area that I have specialised in for almost nearly 5 years and I am very passionate about, I have seen lots of positive outcomes but also seen things that have not worked well. We need to learn from this and what can we do better next time. My recommendation is to do a blended approach of system training and business process walk-throughs - this enable users to understand their role and how they fit into the new way of operating.

In my experience of floor walking and training I have heard end users saying “I don’t really know and understand what I am doing in the system, I am just clicking through (button clicking and keyboard pushing) and getting an output. But what is next?”

A training delivery session where you can hand over certain outputs to different areas, not just focusing on the happy paths in the system but also understanding that if they miss a key step in the process, how it will impact the end to end process – making them a part of the journey and accountability.

Value added/capability

An implementation programme will come to an end, budget runs out and resources roll-off at some point an organisation will be left by themselves to stand on their own two feet and it’s going to be difficult without having the correct capability and skills developed internally.

At Sysdoc we ensure that during an ERP implementation programme we help an organisation develop the capability internally, we provide that value-added experience and we leave a legacy behind. This builds long term relationships but also enables an organisation to continue progressing and evolving. We do not believe in leaving a client in the lurch once all is said and done, we provide workshops and facilitation sessions so that our legacy supports our clients future. 

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