Whatever the nature of the business, ERP systems, such as MS Dynamics 365 Business Central, are complex beasts and a challenge to implement. The whole process can take multiple months, even years, and will typically have a knock-on effect on other departments and systems not directly linked to the upgrade.
A successful project can offer a business the opportunity to optimise its entire value chain as the technology can connect seamlessly with other systems. But, there are a lot of moving parts during an implementation and at worst, there can be damaging financial implications if something unexpected happens for which no contingency was put in place.
ERP breakdowns never end particularly well for any party. They will usually involve senior executives from the customer and the partner giving up a lot of their billable time to sit in stuffy meeting rooms brokering a solution, and the stakes can be very high, particularly for a partner who could be at risk of going bankrupt from a particularly damaging fallout.
So, how can a customer and their implementation partner ensure a successful project without any major bumps in the road?
Make sure there is a clear business case
Customers should be very clear about why they are migrating to a new system and all departments must be brought into this rationale. Teams in different departments can tend to work in silos and have their own processes and systems. So, it is critical that all key stakeholders in a business understand the company strategy and how a new ERP system will support that. The tail should never wag the dog. Implementing new technology will always be disruptive so when tensions arise, which they inevitably will – having a solid business case to hand that all stakeholders have agreed to can help move things forward.
Account for all inter-dependencies
Before an implementations partner comes on board, it is critical that a company account for all the inter-dependencies at stake in the implementation process. Whether a retailer or manufacturing business, an audit must be done of the end-to-end business cycle. A change to the accounting software could affect payroll processes which sit in HR, or the ability to give accurate end-of-year results. It could be that to meet sales targets, design, production and distribution must be always working in tandem and that could be something to bear in mind. A good implementations partner will ask the right questions, but if they are not given access to a key stakeholder they could miss some vital information which could affect the project outcome. An effective solution can only be built with the right input.
Do not over-promise
This one is specifically for Dynamics 365 partners. Some of the most serious ERP fallouts are rooted in the aggressive promises made during the bidding process: partners compromising on cost and complexity to win the work. They have not managed their client’s expectations, perhaps telling them there will be no downtime, when actually that is not realistic. Then, when it turns out that the client’s email system or sales system has to go down for a number of weekends, this understandably results in friction. Remember that an escalated situation will involve a partner’s most senior people getting dragged away from other income-generating projects, and inevitably will cost a partner in additional resource and money. It’s just not worth it!
Invest in your people
Again, this one is for the Dynamics resellers. Successful It projects are a combination of the technology, process and people – but especially about the people. When there are problems in an implementation, they can much more easily be resolved if you have positive, engaged people, with the right mindset, working with the client. In my experience, the consultants are the ones who can turn around a problematic implementation or let it fail. So, as a partner, it’s worth making the right investments in your people, because ultimately, the success of your business rests on their shoulders.
If you are considering upgrading your ERP software? Find out what to look for when making your first MS Dynamics technical hire
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