Make ERP Interesting

Blimps, like ERP, used to be interesting. Back when only a few were flown a blimp sighting was unusual enough to attract attention, less so today with several different branded blimps and at least one of them flying over just about every major sporting event. Today the most memorable blimp event was the Hindenberg disaster. [ed. a zeppelin is a blimp with hydrogen gas for lift]. It seems that disasters are interesting for quite a while, but trouble free service becomes boring.

ERP has its share of disasters including many well known companies and governments. A quick Google search for ERP success yields few lists, but a ton of critical success factors. Disaster is more interesting than hard work so an ERP disaster is more interesting than an ERP success. A disaster is also much more likely to be reported in the business press where your senior executives will see it.

The challenge is to make your ERP project interesting to management in a positive way. An ERP system is basically a tool for automating accounting entries and tying them to business documents (orders and payments) – the drab work that used to be performed by white collar automatons with desktop calculators. That orders are shipped complete, on-time every time with month end sales and cost of sales accounts properly updated is a sign of ERP success is beside the point , the executives tasked your organization to accomplish those objectives whether or not the ERP worked – they attribute the success to the organization and not to the ERP. However should excitement occur, say your biggest customer did not receive what they ordered, that is a sign the ERP failed and the failure will interest executives. The challenge becomes:

how to take a tool that performs boring functions, where success is defined as performing these functions in as unexciting a way as possible, and make it interesting.

The answer is to tie your ERP project to new possibilities for the executives to take credit for, self interest is always interesting to oneself. Wouldn’t it be great if the executive could announce shorter lead times for user customized product delivery? The executive would bask in customer accolades while the ERP made delivering on this promise a boring non-event (provided it supported user customization of products and lean manufacturing processes you need to be able to deliver). Tying the ERP to the executives business innovations is the way to make it interesting.

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