4 Lessons from a Marathon for any ERP Implementation
Like anything in life that’s worth doing, ERP implementations require considerable concentration and effort. Whether it’s reorganizing your chart of accounts, cleaning your data, or simply deciding which team members will be involved in the project, moving your accounting and operations to a new platform is no walk in the park. Running a marathon is remarkably similar; it is one of the most daunting adventures to embark on, and it is incredibly fulfilling once you reach the finish line. As someone who finished mere seconds behind the first-place winner (12,435 seconds, to be exact), I learned a few strategies when running a marathon that also apply directly to ERP implementations.
1. You might not feel prepared
When you look at a five-month schedule that includes up to 40 miles at the height of training, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, if you take it week by week and regularly meet with your running coach, you will make progress and the longer runs start to seem less intimidating. Once you get to race day, you might have some bumps and bruises, but if you’ve put in the work, you will be ready to run.
Similarly, most companies feel excited and anxious before project kick-off. There might be processes that haven’t been documented, subject matter experts that have yet to be identified, or even scoping questions that still linger. A great partner will help you through all of these challenges and provide a thorough plan that takes you from project kickoff through go live. Like the race, there will naturally be scenarios that you might not have considered before going live. However, if you’ve followed the project plan and successfully completed your conference room pilot, you will be ready to flip the switch when the time comes.
2. Expect to make decisions throughout
The wall: every runner’s nightmare. It happens to everyone and it’s an exceptional challenge to overcome. Maybe it hits in mile 10, possibly mile 20; no matter when it occurs, the vast majority of runners will hit a metaphorical wall, a point at which their body tells them it’s time to slow down. In the moment, you’re faced with two possible outcomes: find your way through it, or quit. If you take a breath and assess the issue (not enough food, in my case), you will see a way to the finish line.
Any company that’s been through an implementation will tell you a similar story, especially if they’ve gone through it in the last few years. Eventually, you will hit bumps in the road. The way you deal with those bumps determines how smooth the rest of the project goes. Some might be issues that need to be resolved right now, while others can be pushed into phase next. Working closely with your project team to identify those problems as early as possible is critical to ensure you stay on course.
3. Keep your employees motivated
This one’s a bit obvious: figure out what keeps you going and, once it no longer motivates you, find the next thing that drives you forward. Whether it’s the crowd screaming your name or simply chanting a mantra to get you through the last 10 miles, there’s no shortage of ways to ultimately tell yourself, “I can do this.”
Similarly, the companies that excel at motivating their employees are the ones who see the greatest return on their investment. Implementations can range from three months to well beyond twenty-four months, depending on the complexity. It could be as straightforward as the promise of a more efficient system or the occasional bonus for their work throughout the project. Determine what motivates your team and use that to everyone’s advantage.
4. Celebrate your go-live
Grab a beer, eat plenty of pizza, and take time to revel in your accomplishment before finding the next mountain to climb. Whether it’s finishing the race or going live, the same rules apply to both. You deserve it.
2020 Nucleus Research Report on ERP Technology