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Business system projects are challenging. Many organizations with experience in implementing business platforms can testify that these are complex projects to execute. Surveys also show that many organizations perceive their ERP project implementations as unsuccessful. By failures, we mean either that they became more expensive or took longer than planned or did not achieve the expected business improvements.

The fact that the projects become more expensive or take longer than estimated is often due to underestimating the scope of the project. Or that they have had the wrong expectation of the project outcomes.

The fact that you do not achieve the expected improvements in the business may, in the worst case, be due to the choice of the wrong business platform, but more often, it is because you have not succeeded in your change management or got your business to adopt the new system. ERP experts know that introducing new ways of working and functions must continue after the start of operations to take full advantage of the new system’s potential. However, the organizations that introduce the business platform are not always aware of this. If the project has also become more expensive and taken longer than expected, it may also be more difficult to justify the continued improvement work after the start of operations. Many organizations are simply so tired of the ERP projects that they want to end the work around them, focus on new projects left behind during the ERP project, and let the project participants return to their usual roles. The risk then is that you end the project when you are disappointed with the result.

Why are business platform projects so challenging?

Business platform projects are often among the largest and most business-wide projects that a company carries out. It is often the occasion where you can make major changes in processes and working methods, digitalize and streamline processes, or support a changed business model. This impacts people with varying interests and insights into the project as well as their understanding and commitment needed for a successful implementation.

Avoid the pitfalls

In our experience, some of the most common risks with business platform implementations are:

  • Unrealistic expectations of the project
  • Increased focus on technology than on business outcomes
  • Lack of anchoring and ‘buy-in’ from the management
  • Insufficient focus on processes and process development
  • Too little effort towards organizational change management
  • Too many adjustments and modifications

Some tips for successful business platform deployment:

  • Prepare well by defining what the business is to achieve, goals, and success factors before the project starts. Anchor the project’s goal picture and scope, with the experts involved in the work and with the managers concerned. It is also important that the management team is involved in the steering group and as sponsors.
  • Organize the implementation of the business platform in an ERP program instead of in an ERP project: A successful implementation includes more than the actual ERP implementation - from the choice of system to implementation, change management, rollout, and governance establishment.
  • Businesses are always affected when changing or upgrading a platform: Businesses need to see the introduction of a platform as a business project and not an IT project. Ensure change - define, plan, and follow up on the implementation of the changes.
  • Work with the processes: Many people think it can be difficult and abstract, and the responsibility for process ownership and process development can be unclear. A process framework creates conditions for efficiently implementing and managing a business system. When used correctly, it describes which processes are the most important for your business, how well they support the business, and where the greatest potential for improvement is.
  • The work is not ready at the start of operation: It is vital to have a plan and a governance team to continue with the activities to ensure that the organization adopts the new business platform and continues to improve. Especially with a modern Cloud-based business platform as it is updated continuously. With Cloud, you continuously have access to new functionalities, but it also places a demand on the business to implement these releases.

Create the right conditions for success with your business system implementation

Feel free to contact us at Columbus if you are interested in discussing how you can best prepare, organize, manage, and implement your business system change. Or to discuss how the business should be organized to receive and take advantage of the continuous updates in a Cloud-based platform. We help our clients throughout the process, from defining the vision and strategy for the future business platform to the implementation and continued improvements to realize the new system’s full potential.

Do not miss reading part 2 of this blog series, you can find it here.

Do you want to know more? Contact me, eva.soderlund@columbusglobal.com

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