Once, when I was passing by India Gate, approaching the National Gallery of Modern Art, I saw some military barracks on the way, with a phrase written, “Nischey Kar Apni Jeet Karo”. If you are determined you can ensure your success, is the simple meaning of these lines, taken from the hymn “Deh Shiva Bar Mohe” written by Guru Gobind Singh in the 17th century. These lines were emblazoned as a code of reference set by Guru Gobind Singh, a soldier par- excellence. Soldiers learn these values in detail early in training, and from then on they live them every day in everything they do.
I could immediately shape a correlation to my life. An ERP implementation is similar to this, where only your determination will guarantee success.
You, as CEO, must understand that an ERP Implementation creates an uncomfortable situation. An ERP is a harbinger of a new way of working based on technology, and forces change in the existing modus operandi. It involves compelling people to move away from what they do, from their comfort zones and pushing users into adopting something new. As a result, this initiative brings to the surface small or large errors which were till now getting swept under the carpet in a non-integrated and non-automated environment.
There will be a tremendous resistance from your staff to the every change that the ERP will force upon them. Simple things like payroll will become a bone of contention for example, if the ERP does not permit paying an increment in the past financial year because the financial books have closed, you may hear from your team that they have been used to this practice all the time. And you may have to really dig in your heels to explain that, it is not a healthy practice in the first place even if they have been doing it since ages.
You will also get to hear many concerns like the software does not cater to this exception or that functionality and there will be tremendous pressure to somehow include those exceptions in the ERP.
I am sure if you have a cooperative ERP implementation team, which has control over its code and is well aware of the permutations and combinations they can do with software, you can chase them to include these exceptions in the ERP. But ironically in many cases most managers fail to analyse as to why that exception is needed in the first place.
So sadly at the cost of time and actual money, the ERP Implementation team will start incorporating those exceptions, even though the person asking for it has not even evaluated whether that exception handling is vital for business and the cost and time required for plugging-in that exception is worthwhile.
Customization is a benign term, but forcing unevaluated exceptions into the software may not be the best of the things to do.
So, when you as the CEO start getting these lists of “essential” changes which are required for business, it may be a very good idea to take a deep breath and say I will be the person who will approve any change request, otherwise you will find a deluge of change request coming your way with everything adding to the time and cost of the delivery.
Many change requests could also have origins in user’s desire to dilute system controls, or to stick to the old ways of working without realizing the benefits of the new processes suggested in the ERP. That your ERP must cater to the needs of your business is obvious, but the key is to force changes only when necessary. Asking for changes simply because your ERP vendor is willing to make those changes will only slow down the rollout without any real benefits, and take away the efficiencies that the original ERP design may have included. It will also dilute the impact of benefits that would have come your way, had the ERP been implemented in quick time.
About the Author:
Sanjay Agarwala is the Founder and Managing Director of Eastern Software Systems Pvt. Ltd. An IIMA Alumni, he has extensive experience in the IT Industry spanning over three decades. Mr. Agarwala is one of the pioneers in opening up the African markets for an Indian company and is an authority on how to initiate and sustain a business operation in Africa.