Written by: Bob Green
I’m back with another blog/email for financial executives and managers about trends and best practices in ERP and business software – from an independent perspective. Recall – we don’t sell software…
In the late 1800’s Lewis Carroll shared this gem: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
Ok; impress me – you just thought “wow – that totally applies to my ERP upgrade process!” Right you are! In fact, I’d suggest you post Carroll’s quote on your white board and in the header of your ERP planning documents so it’s always top of mind. Putting simple, yet meaningful quotes front-and-center is what James Carville did for a former President during a heated campaign (recall: “it’s the Economy, stupid”).
In all seriousness, I’m sharing this because too many financial managers assigned to the inherently high-risk ERP upgrade process actually skip the vitally critical step of developing process and functional requirement documentation. These people jump directly to vendor software demonstrations – thereby leaving it up to the vendor to “show” their software at the vendor’s discretion of what’s important, and what’s not. In such cases – you’ve not shared where you are going with the software vendor (thanks Mr. Carroll).
Keep in mind – the vendor may become a long-term relationship for you – yet, by not creating and sharing requirements documentation (your roadmap and declaration of expectations) you’ve already tied one of their hands behind their back. And worse, you’ve tied your hands behind your back and increased your risk of failure dramatically.
Requirements documentation is a combination of narratives and illustrations conveying things that matter most to the business – in this case related to a to-be upgraded ERP environment. It includes a clear picture of the more salient processes that your business undertakes, and provides the reader with an understanding of priority, success factors, and many other relevant matters about your upgrade. Without it – you and your potential vendor(s) are driving in unfamiliar territory without navigation, flashlight or first aid kit (that last one is to appease my spouse).
Take the time to write about the end result! Even if your ERP project team can’t define what the to-be ERP environment looks like, you should undertake the effort at the BEGINNING of the project to determine critical objectives of the upgrade, risks related to its potential success, and other governance matters (budget, timing, etc.). Just do it. Don’t go forward like so many do – and start the demo process and let the vendor drive alone.
There are good software vendors out there – the best one’s will stop the process before it gets too far, and ask you to provide them with a more definite map of your plan. Some of those vendors find us – and introduce us to companies seeking a good ERP navigation expert. Sadly, many vendors are happy to sell you software and services, and choose to determine the level of “fit” of their software to your business – AFTER you buy the software. Not good!
Reminder about our team and what we do -
If you’re a frequent reader of these posts, undoubtedly you know that we’re serious about making sure you get as much success from a pending ERP migration/upgrade experience as possible. We’re not shy about being realistic, and we speak from lots of upgrade experiences with our clients. We’re unbiased, independent, and experienced CPA’s and advisors uniquely positioned to guide you in this area.
Feel free to reach out anytime… Thanks!