Do any of these challenges sound familiar in your business?
“My team cannot keep up with the workload.”
“Too many systems and Excel spreadsheets, I don’t know where to find the truth.”
“I need data to help me make good business decisions and I cannot get it.”
“I am not sure which customers and products are making me money versus costing me.”
“It is getting harder to understand if I have the right inventory levels.”
Business leaders often believe a new system will be the answer to all their problems and in many cases this is true. However, before you go down the path of implementing a new system there are several things you must address upfront to ensure this is the right move and to avoid implementing the wrong system or the right system poorly.
Our team of experienced consultants have identified key areas to consider before embarking down the path of implementing a new system:
1. Clearly define the business problems you are trying to solve and how a system will solve them.
It is also important to understand the capabilities of your existing systems. This will help you determine if there is a need for a new system or if the problem can be solved through operational changes and optimizing your existing systems. Our experience shows that many companies leverage only a portion of their existing system capabilities. Once you determine a new system is in your future, a clear definition of the problems and expected outcomes will help you evaluate different options and make the best decision possible.
2. Identify the project executive sponsor.
An executive sponsor is critical to ensuring that the resources leading the project have the time to invest, the decision-making authority and the support of senior management. Change is hard in any organization and clear executive sponsorship is needed to ensure employees understand the importance of the project, the need for change, and the desired outcome. In our experience, projects that lack this leadership often languish and fail to deliver the promised results.
3. Make sure you understand all the costs of implementing a new system.
The costs of implementing a new system include more than just license and implementation fees. Your business changes over time and your systems must adapt in order for you to continue to realize the desired benefits. Understanding the resource requirements to maintain the system on an ongoing basis is important. Failure to adapt your systems as your business changes can create inefficiencies and dissatisfaction, and drive work that should be done in the system back into the world of Excel and other tools. For many businesses engaging outsourced resources to assist in this important ongoing work may be more cost-effective than investing in internal resources.
4. Embrace new technology and do it wisely.
The proliferation of SaaS-based cloud systems has made many systems much more accessible and affordable to even small businesses. It has also made understanding the options available and identifying the right systems for your business a bit harder. Clearly identifying the right near and long-term systems for you company is critical to success. Engaging a consultant who is familiar with the landscape and can help you define a systems strategy before you start implementing may be a smart move that can you save time, frustration and money down the road.
5. Determine if your people have the aptitude and time to implement and manage a new system.
Implementing a new system is a major time commitment and, if your team is already stretched thin, the likelihood they will have the time to invest in doing the project right is low. Implementing a new system often also requires changing the way things are currently done in order to fully reap the benefits of the systems. Understanding your team’s aptitude for change is important. This is where bringing in an experienced, independent third party to supplement, support and advise your team can be a very wise investment.
6. Understand the need to align business practices with a new system.
Systems generally have a philosophy around good business process and workflows. Getting the full benefit of the system often means changing the way things have always been done. Failure to do so can lead to even more inefficiencies and can even result in undesirable outcomes such as delays in shipping, invoicing, paying vendors, etc. Understanding the nuances of the system and the decisions made during implementation is critical. This is where an experienced implementation partner can bring great value to your project.
Implementing a new system can be a significant help to your organization. Understanding the reasons for the change, the expected outcomes, choosing the best system(s) for your business, implementing them properly and modifying business practices to align with the systems are critical parts of the process.
The team at PlusPoint Consulting is here to help you with all aspects of your project so that you can get the benefits you expect.