When undertaking new accounting, ERP, or CRM system projects, it is common for business owners and executives to get excited about the capabilities of a new solution. Many think that simply by moving to an updated solution, they will be able to achieve operational excellence. Unfortunately, in our experience, that is often not how things work out.
Here are four common red flags we have observed through our work on IT system implementation projects. These are early warning signs that your initiative is unlikely to achieve the goals that were anticipated at the beginning of the project. Before you embark on your next system implementation, you’ll want to keep these all-too-common problems in mind.
- The initiative is not linked to the organization’s strategic objectives. To avoid running into this problem, it is important to be very clear up-front about your strategic objectives and how you expect the new solution to achieve those goals and objectives.
- There is not a well-defined solution selection and planning process. Companies often fall into the software “demo trap.” To avoid this, identify key stakeholders and define your requirements wish list and priorities before you go into the demo stage of the selection process. Otherwise you run the risk of having the wrong decision-makers in the room or being blinded by system bells and whistles that don’t truly meet your needs.
- The initiative lacks an effective implementation approach with a heavy emphasis on change management. Many implementations wind up focusing on detailed transactional issues. The earlier strategic objective that was laid out (if one was developed) gets lost in translation. As a result, after months of hard work and significant investment, your organization ends up with an updated version of the old system and no significant improvements are achieved.
- There is not an ongoing system improvement mindset. After an exhaustive “go live” effort, most managers want to take a well-deserved breather. But failing to reassemble the team and maintain a continuous improvement mindset can cause you to lose momentum. As a result, the system can settle into a steady state for the rest of its lifecycle. Then, before you know it, you have unmet expectations and need to begin a new system selection cycle.
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