Microsoft Dynamics AX Implementation: The beginning of the end? - Part 2
Heard of ‘Delicious Ambiguity’? Well.. That is what an ERP implementation is like, if you haven’t chosen the ‘right’ vendor for your business. A creepy feel of uncertainty, like a shadow at the back of your mind! You will understand why this sounds true, especially with a multi country roll out.
When working with clients, to evaluate and select the right ERP systems for their organizations, choosing the ‘right’ software is just one piece of the puzzle. There are many, finer details that we always need to focus on. However, to just clear the air and not appear an alarmist ... glitches are quite ‘normal’ during an ERP implementation and needn’t be always a ‘technical’ glitch but, could be anything from a functional, technical, communication or even an administrative issue!
That’s why; it essentially calls for a lot of planning and proper communication to successfully implement an ERP across the organization- both before, and especially during an implementation process. The implementation process in ERP becomes vital so as to; gauge the challenges and risks in the initial understanding of the requirements itself. However, knowing the pitfalls allows one to be prepared and one can minimize the risks by addressing a few important issues.
‘Localization’ does have a few physical boundaries.
Why? - With customers, suppliers, employees, and manufacturing facilities located around the world, Global organizations operate as if there are no physical boundaries. And so must the ERP implementation be as ‘seamless’ as the functioning itself. Ensuring legal compliance, to keep pace with financial and regulatory changes, support languages is a challenge. However, unifying technologies into a single platform and reintegrate with business applications, enabling the necessary changes and reducing the need for time-time integration is what is expected from the ‘chosen’ vendor.
Training the trainer?
When you are trying to implement a new system, it is bound to create a lot of confusion and resistance with the users (by users I mean, not only the ‘key’ users, but ‘all’ the users who should be using the ERP system you have implemented) the ‘train the trainer’ approach could get you in trouble at times. Having only one or two key people learn the system, so they can train other employees is like a recipe for future disaster. Users, especially in a multicountry implementation set up, often face trouble understanding the new system and managing the synch from the existing system to new system. To avoid a backfire, and to make sure a full and complete implementation happens (which means that everyone uses the ERP as their main system), device appropriate training programs throughout your organization in batches should be organized, which can prevent functional inefficiencies in the future.
Cost overhead and the perfect storm it could create!
Back in 2004, a printer major on the Fortune 100 list, ended up with a $160 million cost overhead - more than five times the estimated ERP implementation cost in order to cover ‘backlogs’ and ‘small problems’! This was a direct result of inexperienced and inaccurate requirement gathering. This has been a major challenge for vendors if they fail to discuss requirements in the initial phase of planning. Schedule overruns can also be similarly avoided, if you know and understand ‘what your customer really wants’ rather than waste time and resources on unnecessary customization.
As simple as it sounds, ‘change’, is often the most common (and a dreaded) impediment to overcome during most implementations and if it is a multicountry, multivendor rollout then there is a serious reason to worry as ‘too many hands are bound to, if not spoil but, elevate trouble’! (Multi-vendor roll-outs quite often end up with too many cooks). Usually all vendors are focused on software and technology, and give little or no importance in assisting people manage this ‘change’. This becomes a huge issue and can lead to unnecessary resentment at the work place which leads to people not using the new system which then leads to a redundant and/or a failed ERP implementation. Therefore, training session’s pre and post implementation and providing constant support until the workforce seems comfortable using the new system is extremely essential.
The above mentioned aspects are just a few things to consider when evaluating potential ERP implementation solutions. These may hold true if you’re about to implement an ERP system for large or midsized organization. At the end of the day, you want an implementation vendor who not only knows ERP software, but more importantly, knows your business and has the proven expertise.
The advantages of having a single vendor for a multicountry roll out can be explained as - A single vendor can have a proper ‘blueprint’ of your entire business setup. A successful blueprint does not entail a checklist of items to configure and switches to turn on in your system. Instead, it is a process-driven view of every minute detail of your business, which serves as a foundation for the ERP implementation to work as required.
As a customer, one would always prefer, a strong project manager who knows the software and the functionalities and who has an overall understanding of ‘what the requirement is’ and ‘ what needs to be done’. On a multi-country implementation, having a single Project Manager along for each country roll-out does pay dividends as you can imagine. He, along with a team of experts would possibly cater to individual regions and sort implementation requirements region-wise / country wise. This makes the overall implementation a less-cumbersome and saves the customer from running around searching for vendors for specific region/country wise.
To conclude, I’d just say.. Understand what your customer needs, know what you’re selling, get your team on board, educate them fully on all aspects and don’t underestimate what it takes for success! :)
Till the next blog!
About the Author
Mala is one of the advisory bloggers at sa.global . She manages the Digital media marketing communications and assists in the marketing campaigns at sa.global.
Mala enjoys writing interactive content and loves to share
nitty grittys of anything that pan’s out in the technological world.