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Collaborative Implementations - Laying the Foundation - Part I

Collaborative Implementations - Laying the Foundation - Part I

Collaborative_ERP_implementation.jpgCollaborative Implementations

A Joint Effort:

One of the most disruptive endeavors in the business world is the implementation of a new ERP system for your firm.  It is a somewhat easier with a cloud or SaaS product but almost all implementations require the same process for planning, designing, building, testing and deploying a new system.  If done properly, the return on investment is very rewarding and valuable.  However, done improperly, it can raise havoc, crush moral, and possibly have a negative impact the bottom line.

The amount of time and effort it takes for a successful implementation varies by many factors including industry, number of users, amount of data, timing and resources, but all implementations have a much higher probability of success when both client and partner effective collaborate in a joint effort intent on a successful outcome. 

The key image to keep in mind is that it is not like going to a tanning salon… “I’ll just lie down and you’ll do it to me” … that way of thinking will most often produce a failed implementation.  Conversely, one can’t tell the partner / implementation team how to do their jobs… most of us have done well over a hundred projects.  It takes the combined experience of both your business and industry know how blended with the experience and product knowledge to create a successful outcome.

Collaboration is a Requirement:

If the partner you with which your team is planning to engage for your new ERP endeavor is not willing or is incapable of collaborating with your team, you may have the wrong partner in mind.  Frequent and effective communication is important in any relationship, but more so in these types of engagements because you have so much riding on the success of the outcome.  Here are some, but not all of the questions you may want to ask your prospective partner before jumping in with both feet:

Do they have a collaboration tool already in place and have they been using it for some time? there should be in place some experience with using collaborative tools to guide projects and evidence that it has been used for at least a few months and on other projects.  Some examples are Basecamp, Smartsheet, Asana just to mention a few. 

Do they have regular project status meetings and if so, how frequently?  - it can be very unsettling to be a couple months into a project and as a client making an important investment, not knowing the status of where you are in the process.  You could be 80% of the way through the budgeted hours and only 30% of the way through the project… then what do you do? 

Do they plan for executive briefings at the completion of every phase? – Every project is divided up into phases, critical points in the project process where both teams pause and evaluate the progress, budget to actual status, and quality of the work being done.  Look for these executive briefings to be present as a sign of quality, planning and foresight.

Do they have a standard project plan / task list template? – while every project is truly unique, a good professional partner will have already created and uses a predesigned template to which they will adjust to fit your team’s specific needs. If this is not present and something that that are willing to share with you during the evaluation process, it should cause some concern.  For example, if you are in the retail industry, the partner you are considering should have some kind of project template in place that addresses the standard challenges for that industry.

Once you have chosen the best fit partner for the engagement, one of the most difficult challenges in ERP implementations is to effectively manage your team’s expectations for the outcome when the system goes live.  This starts on day one of the project.  Your partner should be providing a project kick off meeting to describe in detail what to expect, define the roles of all team members from both teams, and what to watch out for during the project process.  It just a matter of fact that in the vast majority of these projects, the project team has far more experience in the managing and execution of the project tasks, while in most cases your team will have relatively little experience in this area.  For example, one of our clients recently told me the following: “A new software system should be like buying a car… you put the key in the ignition and drive it off the lot” … nothing could be further from the truth!

It is important that your team is aware that there will be lots of work required on their part to participate in the success of the project.  They will have to learn the software, help the partner discover the ins and outs of your particular business, as well as fully engage in the testing and adjustments of the software in preparation for going live.

Most importantly, it is imperative that two things are foremost in the team’s mind:

One: Every partner will have a scope of work that defines what they are responsible for on the project and they should have a section defining what your team is responsible for as well in order to create a successful outcome.  Everything called out in the scope is what will be delivered, but it is just as important to expect that partner to create a change order for anything that your team requests that is not defined in the scope.  When this happens there will be an increase in the cost of the project, but often there can be disappointment from your team.   This is because once your team sees what is possible and what can be done, they will often start to expect that “everything is included” and not be aware that what is outside of scope will cost extra, may be bypassed, or may delay the project.

Two: Inevitably there will come a time, usually in the middle of the project, where enthusiasm begins to level out and possibly decline and where the novelty has worn off.  Often the project work begins to be perceived as a chore, and at this point it is very important for both team project leaders to communicate this to each other and devise a plan to re-stimulate interest and focus.

In the next blog, we’ll discover how to build a foundation for success and learn how to make it to the finish line with vigor and unbending intent.

About Coretekx HGL, Inc.

Our company, Cortekx HGL, Inc. ( is an Acumatica partner, as well as an experienced Microsoft and Sage partner. We have been providing quality ERP systems since 1995 and done enough implementations to understand the benefits and value a complete system like Acumatica can bring to your company's bottom line.
Want to learn more about ERP implementations or cloud ERP vs. on-premise ERP options? Contact us at 818-593-4777 ext. 211 and we will be happy to help.  Talk to you soon!

Cliff Hall,
President, CEO
Cortekx HGL, Inc.


Image courtesy of by Stuart Miles

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