Some time ago I learned from one of our collaborators with wide experience in the field, that the implementation of an ERP system degrades; in other words, in this case, too, the entropy law applies! His statement has caught me by surprise because the ERP implementation was not a piece of cheese left in the fridge left there to rotten. Although I had an extensive experience in the field, I haven’t had the time to think about this, because each time I finish an implementation I pass to another and so on until the final victory.
A brief explanation: in most cases, the implementation projects have very clear objectives and deadlines, which are most often fulfilled and respected. The benefits pursued don’t show up immediately after we obtained the acceptance document from the client. These remain to be collected later by the application users. And they appear, sometimes shy, other times more obvious.
However, after a while, the benefits of an integrated ERP system cease to exist. For example, managers get reports after extensive processing in Excel, although the implementation team has delivered a full reporting tool. Or, accountants sometimes make real stunts to do the month-end close procedures in time.
And then you ask yourself: what happened to the poor implementation that it suffered such a degradation in just two years? Well… in two years a lot can happen. If you look closely, you might see that: the client’s teams have changed, new managers were hired, the economic crisis is over, the company has opened a new subsidiary, etc.
And the conclusion is clear as a whistle: the ERP implementation degrades if the beneficiaries don’t have a maintenance plan.
What’s a maintenance plan?
- Its purpose is to maintain alive the structure that supports the implementation. The team consisting of the application manager and the key users needs to be kept updated about how to efficiently use the application. We always suggest after the implementation that they participate to the training courses organized by the ERP provider to keep in touch with the best practices, new developments and new versions of the ERP system.
- The implementation of an internal real-time data control system to make sure you eliminate duplicated: articles, clients or providers.
- Providing a communication channel between the implementation expert and the beneficiaries prevents, most of the times, internal incorrect implementations of new requirements or situations.
- Establishing a plan or an annual budget to answer to the question: what can we afford to implement this year? can only prevent the project’s degradation.
The list could go on, but I don’t want to bother you with a longer list. Now that I’ve shared some of my findings, here’s a last one: the implementation process never ends at least as the company continues to grow.