I’ve recently been involved in a variety of ERP/CRM opportunities and I have noticed that there seems to be a common trend of clients/prospects asking for “Rapid” implementations in order to reduce the time it takes to implement and the initial capital project costs.
The concept of a Rapid Implementation generally means reduced costs and rapid time to implement with the notion of getting to realize value quickly.
What most customers fail to consider is that any value gained from the ERP or CRM project begins only once the end of implementation occurs and the implementation partner has packed up and gone on to the next project. The main objective of deploying any enterprise software is to ensure adoption and to drive business improvement however rapid implementations typically only consider the upfront costs of the software and services and don’t consider the time or effort needed for an organization to adopt the technology, align resources to support new process, and to gain the improvements that the initiative was set out to deliver.
My hunch is that this is a result of the overall downward pressure on enterprise software price in general and that a number of the cost barriers to enterprise software have been dramatically reduced in the form of cloud computing and ERP/CRM software being readily available to SMB’s. It also may have something to do with the way that enterprise software is marketed in that it represents the solution to complex business problems that many organizations face and all you have to do it buy it and click Yes, Yes, Yes, Next, Next, Next; but we’ll leave that for another post.
Unfortunately quickly realizing value from a rapid ERP/CRM implementation is still somewhat hit and miss (more miss) due to the failure of many customers to recognize that the implementation costs must be borne by someone and that someone is typically the customer as the rapid approach shifts much of the effort and risk of the implementation to the customer. If the customer’s organization is not prepared for an ERP/CRM project and a clear understanding of accountabilities and resources needed to implement the project it is more than likely going to miss its core objectives of business improvement and value realization.
Rapid Implementations do have their place however – they can prove to be very effective when clear objectives and tight scope are determined or when concepts need to be proved out in order to determine the value or feasibility of a business system to improve business problems however the rapid implementation approach should not be used as a means to simply reduce time or costs.
Risk of a failed implementation is greatly increased when cost and time is the only consideration in making ERP/CRM buying decisions. This risk may be compounded by the engaged vendor if they are incented to sell software and if the culture of their organization is geared toward software sales rather than project success or customer satisfaction.
If customers do decide to go down the rapid implementation path then they must realize that they take on the effort to not only support the initial implementation but also govern, improve, maintain, and sustain their newly installed ERP or CRM solution.
The reality of the situation is that most often customers don’t actually have the collective time to focus their resources on the implementation and the evolution of their ERP/CRM solution so they need a partner to help guide them to be successful. The issue that customers will continue to wrestle with is how to value the partner’s services especially if they don’t know that they need them and vendors continue to place high value on software sales and use rapid implementations as a means to sell their applications.