Taking your ERP implementation from “Good to Great”

By - February 16, 2015

I would imagine that a good portion of our readers have read, or at least heard of Jim Collins’ enormous bestseller, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t. This is a wonderful book that has appealed to a crowd that extends beyond typical business publications. The far reaching application of the book’s principles can be applied to the broadness of the message. The work doesn’t focus on one type of organization, role, goal, or problem; rather it sends a message about culture and attitude that can be applied universally. Given this thought, I spent some time considering how it would apply to my world. My first thought was that certainly the Stockdale Paradox could apply to almost every ERP implementation.

When you consider an ERP implementation, like Microsoft Dynamics AX, a business is typically trying to solve a problem. It could be replacing outdated or dysfunctional solutions, preparing for upcoming expansion, or simply a desire to be able to use technology to improve stakeholder experiences. Whatever the reason, when implementing an ERP system, everyone agrees that we must first take care of the basics: deliver goods or services, collect money, pay vendors and employees, and provide month-end financial statements. All of those things are important, no doubt about it. However, sadly, this is where many ERP implementations end. If you are buying a piece of software in this era, it can do so much more than that.

What drives a company to go to the next level, from good to great, in their software implementation? Or perhaps more accurately, what prevents a company from utilizing more than the basic features of world-class software? I have thought a lot about this and one word keeps coming to mind: vision. As a partner that organizations hire to implement software, I focus on the future “to-be state” right from the start. Yes, we will do the basics, but there is a perpetual reinforcement of how great things will be at the end. We will not just be replacing an older software system with another one that does the same thing and just has a nicer looking user interface. We are going to deliver dashboards, mobile reporting, system integrations, replace paper with technology, barcodes, labels, customer and vendor on-line interfaces and much more.

My recommendation, when implementing the normal functionality, ask yourself what you can do to take this one step further.  For example:

  • Instead of just implementing purchase orders, implement purchase order with automated workflow and email notification
  • Instead of just implementing warehouse transactions, implement barcoding and real-time transaction movements
  • Instead of just implementing standard financial reports, implement dashboards with charts and graphs
  • Instead of just implementing reporting, give users reporting on their mobile devices

In closing, I would challenge you to think beyond the functionality of your legacy system and take full advantage of the best features available to you in the new state of the art software solution in which you have invested. The way to make sure you get there and don’t stop after doing the basics is to keep reinforcing these ideas and this vision throughout the toughest times of the project. Like Admiral Jim Stockdale, make it a part of what you do and everyone needs to believe it: culture and attitude…good to great.

RSM is a nationally recognized partner in the mid-market ERP and CRM market.  We provide a full suite of services for Microsoft Dynamics AX. To learn more about our success stories, visit our Microsoft Dynamics ERP Case Studies page.  If you like more information about the services we can provide your organization, contact our professionals at erp@rsmus.com.

By: John Hannan – www.rsmus.com/dynamics

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