4 Steps to Successful Enterprise Software Implementations
At a recent public sector conference, I watched a few senior executives from different geographies get into an animated discussion about enterprise software. Despite their differences, these executives shared one common problem – the never ending implementation and the ballooning price tag of their enterprise software project. In one case, the project was now in its 3rd year of a 1 year implementation, the solution was still not functional and the total cost had already tripled. Sounds familiar?
The executives thought they were buying a Porsche, or so they were told. The Porsche would have lots of nice features like dual climate control, GPS, iPhone connector, satellite radio, sensor wipers and lots of other features that they could further customize to meet their needs. Actually, the car had too many features that would need to be enhanced or customized just to get it out of the parking lot. No problem, the highly trained services team with lots of customization experience would work with them (time and material of course), and before they knew it, the company would be going on long, thrilling drives in their new powerful car.
The efforts to perfect the Porsche resulted in a highly customized solution that somehow doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Frustrated staff reverted back to manual and paper based processes. Nobody wanted to touch the Porsche, apparently the light switch turns on the wipers now.
“It is like riding a donkey at work”, one executive said, “our customer service, operations and staff morale are all suffering. Everything is moving at a slow and painful pace, and we don’t know when this ride will end.”
So how do you avoid paying for a Porsche, but getting a donkey?
1. Start with a K-Car mindset – Recognize that your enterprise solution can eventually become a Porsche, but to start you only need a K-Car. Something that will get you from point A to point B, has a steering wheel, has 4 wheels and allows your to park, go forward and reverse. Complexity is the enemy of speed, if you want to start driving soon, then keep the initial implementation simple.
2. Test drive – Prototype (test drive) as much as possible and as early as possible so you understand what the end product will look like. Imagine buying a car without test driving it, then being told it will take 12 months for you to get it or drive it.
3. Learn to maintain the K-Car – Every dollar you spend on your staff for training and development will save you a hundred down the road. As your staff gains knowledge and confidence, they will feel more engaged and take ownership of the solution.
4. Pimp your ride, but slowly – Like the popular TV show, you can add on modules, features, functionality to tailor and personalize the solution for your organization, but unlike the TV show you won’t need to take it into the shop for a full interior and exterior overhaul.
Enterprise systems are implemented for the promise of improving operations, customer service and revenue, but most over promise and under deliver. It is rare that you will have the perfect solution at the beginning, so start with a minimalist K-Car mindset and build your own Porsche over time.
Disclaimer – I like enterprise software, wish for a Porsche, had a K-Car, and rode on a donkey once.