Is it possible to save a failing ERP implementation? According to a Gartner study, 80 percent of enterprises will lack the capability to deliver on their ERP strategy successfully. Because ERP implementation failure can be one of the costliest mistakes a company makes, I want to help you get it right. If you want to avoid failure and reach Go-Live nirvana, this blog post is for you. Failed projects focus on the “what.” What are we going to implement? What are the features and functionalities?

To select and successfully implement an ERP platform, you must be able to compare the capabilities of the system to the company’s business needs — this is called the Fit Gap. It is true that organizational fit is important, but focusing on the “how” instead of the “what” is even more crucial.

Working with enterprise clients over the years, I have learned that the three most important components of a successful Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP implementation project are Process, Outcomes, and People (POP):

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation Process

Most Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP projects don’t focus enough on the process by which both the consultant and client teams need to operate. A successful ERP implementation project includes multi-directional communication. Throughout the entire project, employees want their questions answered. The more questions consultants and managers can answer, the more attractive the new system will appear. It is also critical for the executive team to deliver a positive message about the ERP system implementation. Listening and responding to questions and complaints regularly, you will be surprised how open the organization will be to change.

Successful Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP projects include the following:

Steering Committee: The steering committee is typically comprised of executives from VP to C-level, and it is critical for a successful ERP implementation. At a minimum, a monthly meeting is necessary to review progress against budget and plan. At the same meeting, get business leaders involved in important decisions, like dealing with roadblocks and questions of customization. The steering committee should not be a reporting exercise, but a forum to make decisions and task executive sponsors with taking actions. Do you know the reason for most delays? It is an organization’s inability to make decisions. The most critical role of the steering committee is decision-making.

Core Team: Every successful ERP implementation includes a core team of professionals, which includes both internal and external team members. Your core team must include the most skilled, the most experienced, and the most qualified employees. The core team also includes external team members, such as ERP implementation technical experts. Frequent communication between core team members is a must.

Start with weekly meetings, but during critical times, such as leading up to conference room pilot (CRP), or when doing data migration or user acceptance testing (UAT), increase to a daily meeting. Your meetings should be organized in a “triage” format to make sure key issues are tackled properly.

Extended Team: ERP projects impact multiple departments and teams. Regular communication with all impacted department heads is critical. It is the only way to communicate that “change is coming.” Thus, enabling the organization to get their teams ready.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation Outcomes

Setting clear expectations is what separates failed ERP implementation from success. Most Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation projects that fail do not achieve enough progress within particular time constraints. To succeed, you need to identify each objective before implementation begins. Clear objectives ensure that the implementation team knows what success looks like, which protects both internal and external stakeholders.

An example of this is the data migration phase of an ERP implementation project. Data migration is harder than expected. When you are migrating from a legacy system to a new system, you must map up to seven years of historical details from the old to the new system. It is essential for you to go through this process not only because you understand your data, but because it is an excellent opportunity to clean up your dirty data.

The People Behind Your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Implementation

Nothing will have a more significant impact on the success of your ERP implementation project than the people on your core team. Both client and consultant team members are crucial to success.

To succeed with your ERP implementation project, you must build an all-star team that includes your best people. The ideal people for the job understand your business inside and out. They are your superstars who are not only your top performers but are also influential team members. When they speak, people listen.

The members of your implementation team must be open to change. The right people are not afraid of change and look forward to new ideas. It is important to invite fast learners, those who get it in one or two takes.

Even superstars need internal support. Assist your implementation team in maximizing their ability to help your organization transition from the old to a new ERP system. The best way to set them up for success is to adjust their workload and to give them sufficient time to support the implementation project. Although taking the load off your top performers is expensive and often difficult, but it is necessary to allow them time to learn and really engage.

Externally, as you are selecting an implementation partner, make sure that you feel comfortable with the team implementing the system. You need to be able to visualize them working with your team. Far more than any feature, intellectual property, or proprietary methodology, comfort with the implementation team is your most important decision to make after you have selected the ERP platform. Choosing the right implementation team is a great way to build the trust needed to work through the rough times that are unavoidable during an ERP implementation project.

Focus on your people, outcomes, and process to make your Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP implementation project “POP.”

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.

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