What to do right in a business software selection project
An ERP selection project (or any enterprise software selection project) is a difficult undertaking. There are many things that need to be managed. There were projects that seemed to go well and then suddenly ended up on the wrong track. The essence of an ERP selection project, or any enterprise software selection, is that it lays the foundation for the implementation project. So if done right, you have a higher probability of success in your implementation. If you have a weak selection project, you probably have an equally weak implementation.
Things that ensure the success of your selection project
There are several things you can do to ensure the success of your selection project. First is to gain top management support for this project. If the project doesn’t have a high priority at the top, it will never succeed. This is one of the most important things that must be in place for a project to be successful. Good project management dictates that you have support for the selection project before undertaking the project. If employees see that management doesn’t really care, then they won’t care. However, when people realize that management has made this a priority, they will shift their work to accommodate this new project.
The next thing that will contribute to success is clearly defined expectations. That means you need to set the goals you want to achieve with the new system. People often define their requirements for the system, but have no higher goal. What drives this need for change? What is the expected successful outcome. Every successful project starts with the goal in mind, but an ERP selection project is driven by the overarching goal of a successful outcome that leads to significant positive change. This goal will get you through the tough times. Without them, the project is destined to produce mediocre results and will likely take longer and be more difficult.
A focused schedule also contributes to success. If you can define and stick to a set schedule and stick to it, the selection project will progress at a reasonable pace. If you don’t set a schedule and stick to it, the project will move at the vendors’ pace and likely stall. This is also due to management support. It must be a motivated project. A selection project that is only treated as additional work will not be successful.
Focused and available resources are also key to a successful ERP selection project. Typically there are two teams that may overlap. First up is a senior steering committee that decides on important things, e.g. B. about problems that arise when departments compete with each other or about matters where time and budget are at stake. This team typically consists of senior management and at a minimum has individuals empowered to make strategic decisions. In second place is a functional team that represents the different areas of the company. Accounting, quality control, manufacturing operations, purchasing, order management, inventory control, etc. are key areas that should be represented on the functional team.
This team must have the time to dedicate to the project. Companies that are genuinely committed to the success of the selection project often fire key people from their jobs and give them full-time responsibility for the project. This is often very difficult and creates a short-term gap in the various departments. But usually the remaining employees rise to the challenge and the head of the department will provide invaluable insight into how the software system works. The best people to assign to the project are the people you can least afford to remove. They are the makers of the company and move things in their departments. But this personality is exactly what you need for your selection project. They give the project an insight and a sense of motivation that will ultimately make it and the company a success.
Another important area to keep in your focus area is acceptance of change. Change management is one of the crucial things you can do to ensure the implementation is a success. But why talk about it in the selection project? Because the change management process begins with the selection. If you succeed in communicating your goals and visions for the project and in getting people enthusiastic about changing their working environment and enthusiastic about the change, then you are on the way to success. Change management boils down to effective communication. If you can communicate the needs, the reasons for the projects, and the successful vision in no uncertain terms, you will gain the trust and support of those who are likely to do more work in the short term to make the selection project a success. This includes those who are not directly involved but will ultimately be users of the system. You have to make sure everyone is involved.
This ties into the final success factor and that is the communication plan. A plan needs to be put in place to communicate the goals of the project, the status of the project, the impact of the project on users, and even the delivery of bad news. Be sure to build the communication plan into the project. For example, at initiation, communicate the goals and desires of the project to the community of employees. Communicate the status of the project. Make people feel involved, or at least not left in the dark about the project.
What a successful selection project looks like
If you have done the above points well then a selection project will look and be a success. A selection project has many aspects including people, process and the technology. Managing all of these factors well will lead to your success. But communication and support are crucial. You can’t communicate too much. Make sure you have support and that everyone understands why you are doing the project. If you do this, you are well on your way to selecting the right software and ensuring a successful outcome of your implementation, all thanks to the good work you have put into the ERP selection project.