As we sit in the middle of football season and we watch teams struggle to score once they get in the red zone (inside the 20) it reminds me of many of the implementations I have seen over the years. Clients have already made the important decision to move up from QuickBooks or Peachtree, for example, to a more comprehensive ERP/accounting system such as Microsoft Dynamics GP. They are able to get the new ERP software system up and running but struggle to accomplish the complete automation of certain areas or the ultimate systems integrations they desire. In many cases it comes down to the fact that the cost to score (i.e. to complete the last few key areas) can be as costly as the entire accounting system implementation. Often in these cases we see that clients revert back to Excel spreadsheets and custom software applications which may well have been the driver for the investment in the new ERP application in the first place. This can leave the client with a negative impression of the software implementation and the partner they chose during the software selection process.
The challenge to both our organizations and our clients is to make sure we think “out of the box” so that we can score in the red zone. Understanding the key wins in the beginning of an ERP project is the first step in the right direction. Once these key wins are identified, the next step is to ensure the ongoing communication between the client and the implementation partner. Being flexible and coming up with different alternatives to achieve the client’s goals is essential. Measuring the effect of a given issue on the organization is also critical. Avoid focusing on challenges that have a minimal impact and do not occur too frequently. Once the issues and solutions have been identified, everyone involved needs to understand and compare the cost of the solution to the benefit that will be reaped. Companies do not have unlimited resources for fixing every problem they face. As Microsoft partners and technology advisors, our job is to maximize the resources they have and deliver the most value. We need to work with our clients to pick the right play to make sure we score a touchdown once we get to the 10 yard line.