05 February 2010

The New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit – Part 39

We are continuing our discussion of Sue Bergamo's article entitled "Is Your Implementation in Trouble?" She listed seven "high level categories [in troubled ERP implementations]…. in the order from the highest to lowest number of responses" from her informal LinkedIn survey. Here is the list:

  1. A misconception of business expectations
  2. The lack of top level leadership involvement in the project
  3. Business processes were not correctly redefined and continued to be inefficient
  4. The impact of the organizational change was not addressed properly and caused a major upheaval in the company
  5. The vendor wasn't managed correctly and over-promised, then under delivered [sic]
  6. Project management was weak and over-customizations lead to increased scope and time
  7. The integration of diverse applications was harder than anyone expected
    (Bergamo 2010)
In this process we are drilling-down on Bergamo's symptoms list and setting them in the context of the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit while contrasting them with traditional ERP – Everything Replacement Projects to see if using the New ERP approach would have mitigated the failures.

2. The lack of top level leadership involvement in the project

This is a no-brainer for the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit, and the reason is simple: "Top level leadership" are always interested and involved in those things that are going to lead to increasing profit. They are less likely to be interested and involved in "housekeeping" and "maintenance" matters.

For better or worse, top-level executives frequently consider IT either "a necessary evil" – like paying the janitorial staff; or they see it a "necessity that no longer delivers a business advantage" – like maintenance on well-worn manufacturing equipment on the shop floor. It may have been a competitive advantage when it was purchased (several years ago), but now it is only an "expense."

If top-level leadership had begun their search by looking for improvement leading to a competitive advantage, or improvement leading to significant increases in Throughput they would be "involved" in the project. Not only so, but if they had followed the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit approach, their application of the Thinking Processes (see prior posts) would have led executives and managers to uncover the answers to the three critical questions we have so frequently reiterated:

  1. What needs to change (Current Reality Tree)
  2. What should the change look like (Future Reality Tree)
  3. How to effect the change (Transition Tree)
What could be simpler or more effective in gaining top-level leaderships involvement with the project at hand?

3. Business processes were not correctly redefined and continued to be inefficient

This is another problem easily created when traditional ERP – Everything Replacement Project methods are employed and even more easily avoided when taking the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit approach. Here is why:

If the executive management team has discovered what needs to change, then they have already automatically "correctly defined" the business processes involved. They know exactly what specific business processes are acting as a constraint or bottleneck to making more money. By using the Thinking Processes' CRT (Current Reality Tree), the firm's leadership has already unlocked and decoded tribal knowledge so as to precisely what business process should be improved.

And, if they are following the New ERP methods, then their next step likely would be (depending on certain factors) the creation of a Future Reality Tree (FRT) or a Transition Tree (TrT). Either of these logical trees would help them understand what the change should look like and how to effect the change. Specifically, the FRT would define for them what their business processes should look like after the proposed change, and the TrT would become the management team's roadmap for change management. [Note: For Theory of Constraints purists, there are other portions of the Thinking Processes that might become a part of this (e.g., Negative branches, Prerequisite Trees) that I have left out of this discussion for the sake of simplicity.]

I think you can see from this that, by employing the New ERP methods, there is simply no way to leave behind "inefficient processes" that remain unchanged. Fundamental to the Thinking Processes and the planning that results from the logic of the trees is the inherent roadmap to changing whatever it is that was defined in "what needs to change" (the CRT).

In the traditional ERP – Everything Replacement Project so much change is happening all across the organization, it is no surprise that all that some processes get overlooked and remain unchanged and, as a result, inefficient as well. 

4. The impact of organizational change was not addressed properly and caused a major upheaval in the company 

This cause sounds sort of redundant, does it not? This is a symptom that has its roots in the whole philosophy of traditional ERP – Everything Replacement Projects. After all, it is really hard to avoid a "major upheaval in the company" when your approach is to "replace everything" in their core IT systems.

That is precisely why the New ERP – Extended Readiness for Profit is not only vastly more likely to provide a sound and significant return on investment (ROI), it is also likely to produce an ROI at lightning speed. Many traditional ERP projects take years to produce a return and, sadly, some never do.

[To be continued]

©2010 Richard D. Cushing

Works Cited

Bergamo, Sue. CIO Update: Is Your ERP Implementation in Trouble? Feb 01, 2010. http://www.cioupdate.com/features/article.php/3862056/Is-Your-ERP-Implementation-in-Trouble.htm (accessed Feb 02, 2010).


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