Top 3 Need to Knows For Buying Business Software

Acquiring a new ERP solution – every company faces this challenge on average once a decade; more often if the business is dramatically growing or requirements have changed as a result of acquisitions.

In many cases, the focus initially is on how to select the best new software package, the overall budget impact and what implementation vendor to choose. These attributes are certainly critical but here are some other thoughts gleaned from years of observing what happens in these complex projects.

Allocating Time and Staff Requirements

One of the biggest challenges that executives often underestimate is the impact on people within the organization and the overall resources needed to complete the project satisfactorily. As I mentioned earlier, companies don’t implement large-scale software solutions like this very often and as a result it is not their core competency.

In most cases, companies underestimate how much time is really required by the existing staff assigned to help with the project.

In order to increase the probability of success, companies should plan to have key people dedicated 100% or at least over 50% to the project. And in almost all cases, temporary staff should be deployed to try and augment the loss of productivity experienced by the key participants.

When this is overlooked, inevitably internal deadlines are jeopardized and frustration surfaces deeper into the project.

Ensuring a Dedicated Executive Sponsor

Another well-known requirement for success but often insufficiently addressed is the role of executive sponsorship. Most projects have an executive sponsor.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the executive sponsor is busy with the usual business needs and doesn’t completely understand the importance of the role or approaches the responsibility with a check-list mentality. These projects are extremely difficult and require great execution on everyone’s part to stay on course.

Often, I have observed that executive sponsors are simply not dedicated enough to the details or are not engaged enough to recognize that he or she is not getting the full story of what is going on. When this occurs, the probability of the project going over budget and missing deadlines increases. Then you have the infamous meetings where the client executives are meeting with the implementation vendor executives trying to decide how to correct the course.

Adapting to Fit Your Systems & Adapting Your Systems to Fit You

The third area that is always considered but usually underestimated is how much the organization is willing to adapt to the standard features of the new software versus requiring modifications. Give and take is expected but to consistently manage this requires significant effort and frequent executive interaction.

There should be a review process on a regular basis with executive participation and approval in order to manage. Anything less rigorous will ultimately result in more modifications and cost than anticipated and/or user frustration because decisions aren’t made consistently.

Think People First

There are many options and tools available to map out the process to select the correct software and vendor for implementation. At the end of the day, the greatest impact is on the people in the organization who will have varying degrees of excitement and commitment to making the implementation successful.

If executives stay in tune with the needs and impact on their people and stay involved in the progress of the project at a more detailed level, they will dramatically increase the odds of project success.

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