The Focus Agile Implementation Methodology
“Analyst firm Gartner estimates that 55% to 75% of all ERP projects fail to meet their objectives.”
Scary, isn’t it?
After all, your ERP implementation can make or break your career.
If you get it right, then you become the hero. You’ve successfully launched the new system that secures your company’s growth. You’ve improved your company’s efficiency, internal visibility, and data analysis, collaboration, and reporting. You’ve created huge benefits for your company, and you’ve hit a home run for your career.
But if you get your ERP implementation wrong, then you become the villain. You’ve reduced your company’s data visibility and accuracy, and you’ve crippled your company’s operations. You’ve created a huge failure for your company, and you’ve damaged your career.
We want to help you become the hero, not the villain. We want to show you how to make sure your ERP implementation is a huge success. And to do that, we’ve wrapped up everything we’ve learned from managing thousands of successful ERP implementations, and put them together in this simple article that will shatter the biggest myths of ERP implementation, and show you the correct path to a successful deployment.
So read on and learn why the three biggest myths of ERP implementation are just plain wrong, and how you can follow a better framework to make yours a success.
“The words Agile and ERP Implementation are not compatible.”
We’ve heard this myth so many times— that ERP implementations are best handled through the standard Waterfall approach, and that an Agile implementation plan is 100% inappropriate for a project of this size.
This myth is repeated for one of two big reasons. First, because the industry is just plain used to following traditional implementation methods, and it’s the only thing they know how to do. Second, because traditional, slow, and bloated implementation methods generate a lot more revenue for consultants than a fast, lean Agile implementation.
We know first-hand that our Agile approach—which we’ve honed over many years—works much better for ERP implementations that traditional approaches. We’ve learned to run a fast, flexible, and responsive implementation that eliminates the possibility of any big failures, and instead follows a fast, flexible, and responsive method that continuously re-aligns to our client’s needs, limitations, and emerging opportunities.
Here is the new way ERP’s are successfully implemented, which we call the Focus Agile Implementation Methodology (FAIM). You can modify it for your implementations to make them a success as well:
- Understand and Map. Focus Softnet’s team develops a high-level understanding of your business, and maps out your organization and business processes.
- Design a Better Way. Then we design a better way of doing things. We try to go beyond just digitizing the old way of doing things. Focus invests the time needed to architect a better system that will give your internal users and customers a better overall experience, without sacrificing long-term flexibility (change is constant).
- Simple and Clear Scope. We create an easy-to-read, bulletproof scoping document that explains your entire project scope in 1-3 pages— max— to limit your initial functions, outcomes, and details to the absolute essentials.
- Break it down. Typically break your scope down into phases, and each phase into sprints, to create a clean, clear, accountable project plan that minimizes mistakes and allows for flexibility. Phases are mini-projects that build up to the overall main projects.
- Compare, shop and plan. After scoping and planning is understood. We ask our customers to take the time to compare different solution providers based on key factors including: license costs, time and cost to implement, the cost to support your system, and how much time and budget it would take to modify your system as your needs evolve.
- Select and Execute. Based on these findings, often times Focus ERP is often the entire solution stack or part of it because it provides the most Innovation Enablement, Money ROI and Productivity ROI.
From there, we cascade an Agile mindset through your full implementation. We start by implementing your new ERP in just one small area of your organization. We learn from this initial project. We find and fix technical issues in this contained environment. We make sure it actually meets your stakeholders’ real-world needs. We prove it’s a success. And once we do, we gradually roll-out your ERP to additional areas of your organization so by the time your ERP runs enterprise-wide, it’s operating flawlessly, with no chance of catastrophic failure.
Whether you work with Focus ERP, or implement your ERP on your own, remember this— Agile and ERP Implementation are highly compatible. In fact, following an Agile implementation method is the most important thing you can do to ensure a successful ERP deployment!
“ERP Implementations need to be planned for every part of the business down to the smallest detail.”
This is another big myth that seems to exist entirely to make ERP implementation consultants rich. While there are good ERP consultants out there, most of them will overload your project plan with as many details and as much documentation as possible. They say they’re trying to make your project “perfect”, but most of the time they’re just extending your project implementation timelines to bill more hours.
When it comes down to it, even when consultants are coming from a good place, this whole approach is misguided for one simple reason… it’s impossible to create a “perfect” ERP implementation plan. Your company’s business model is constantly evolving and being tweaked. If you plan for years in advanced, you will kill innovation, and make it impossible to continuously re-align to your business as it changes course.
Instead of planning every single step and detail of your ERP implementation, we’ve learned to just focus on the most important details:
- We focus on only delivering mission-critical functionality on phase one.
- We only bring essential stakeholders onto the project— mission-critical business executives, the ERP’s real-world users, and the smallest project team possible
- We don’t say “yes” to every stakeholder request during the planning phase, and we don’t give them full customization at first
- We offer gradual customization to give our clients long-term system agility and innovation readiness.
Overall, it’s impossible to plan too far into the future for your ERP. Plan the essentials. Bake in as much flexibility and adaptability as possible. And continuously engage your stakeholders and stay close with your business so you can adapt your ERP to their new needs as those needs emerge. Often, the less you plan and the more you just get started, the more successful your ERP implementation will be!
“You should only implement the ‘typical’ ERPs that have a lot of brand name recognition.”
At this point, we bet you can guess why this myth has persisted— most of the big-name ERP solutions are complicated, they take a long time to implement, and they require expensive ongoing servicing… all of which add up to bigger fees for the ERP provider and their consultants of choice. In fact, most ERP implementation consultants have invested huge amounts of money in the most commonly known brand-name ERP solutions, and have to charge you a huge price to implement them to earn a little ROI off their investments.
Now, there might be a situation where one of the big, brand-name ERP solutions is the right option for you. But we’ve learned that most people end up picking one of the best-known platforms because they’ve heard the name before, and they just assume it will solve their problems. The same holds true when most people hire an ERP implementation consultant— they just go with the firm they’ve heard of before.
You can avoid this problem, and make sure you pick the best solutions and partners for your project, by performing enough due diligence ahead of time. When evaluating a solution or firm, ask yourself:
- Are they overselling their capabilities?
- Are they overselling their ability to implement on time?
- Have they asked enough questions upfront to make sure they understand my needs?
- Have they educated me on their tech front-and-back, and made sure I understand all the operational processes involved?
- Have they clearly defined the resources they need to integrate into my company?
- Have they clearly defined my actual needs, and explained with 100% clarity how they will meet them?
- Did they clearly delineate responsibilities between their consultants and my staff?
- Do they have logical transition plans to follow as people move in and out of the project?
- And most important— are they going to adequately train my people in their platform, so we can put it to work from day one of launch?
Like we said, there are likely times when one of the big, brand-name solutions might be best for your firm. And there are times when one of the best-known consulting firms might deliver a lot of value for you. But we’ve learned that taking the time upfront to select the best platform and partners will dramatically increase your chances of achieving ERP implementation success!
The Most Important ERP Implementation Myth to Break…
There is one last big ERP implementation myth we’ve seen that almost guarantees ERP implementation failures…
“I can handle my entire ERP implementation myself.”
Over the years, we’ve come to see that ERP implementations are always a complex process. No single leader can ever manage the entire process effectively on their own. They always need hands-on help and guidance, tailored to their unique context. We’ve learned that even though our clients could follow the insights we included in this article to avoid ERP failure, they always implemented faster, easier, and more successfully, when they let us and our partners handle the heavy lifting for them.
We saw this again and again, and designed Focus Softnet to offer CIOs, CTOs, CFO,s and other ERP implementations leaders the hands-on help they need to successfully launch their platform. If you would like to see if we could be the right fit to ensure your own ERP success, contact us.