To start at the beginning, many post- implementation problems can be traced to wrong expectations and fears. Some of the blame for this is on the ERP Implementation options vendors and their pre-implementation sales type.
A few of the popular expectations are:
An improvement in process
Increased productivity on all fronts
Total automation and disbanding of all manual processes Improvement of all key performance indicators
Elimination of all manual record keeping
Real time information systems available to concerned people on a need basis Total integration of all operations.
ERP implementation options also engenders a host of fears. Some of them are:
Loss of importance as information is no longer an individual prerogative Change in job profile
An organisational fear of loss of proper control and authorisation Increased stress caused by greater transparency
Individual fear of loss of authority.
Balancing expectations and fears is a very necessary part of the implementation process. Now comes the reality part. A few of the realities that any organisation must keep in mind are:
Changing the organisation involves three levels—strategic, business process and change and consequential organisation change
Changing the organisation requires a mindset change. Without a willingness to change, it would be a classic case of an old organisation plus new technology leading to an expensive old organisation
In most companies in India, many process-related key performance indicators have not been measured till now—either because the company did not feel it necessary or lacked the tools to do so. Measuring such indicators brings in a new culture
The generic nature of the ERP packages is such that there would be processes peculiar to some sectors and organisations which may have to be kept out of the process
Some of the processes are better done manually.
Finally, a successful ERP implementation is not the end of the road as far as change is concerned and continuous improvements are required to reap the benefits. The expectations, fears and reality can most obviously be balanced during the process of implementation itself.
While the above points would take care of most post-implementation blues, certain problems are bound to be encountered. The major task is to monitor the KPIs and take the correct business decisions to improve them. In most Indian organisations, however, these indicators may be nonexistent before the implementation.
So the immediate task is to set attainable goals. However, this may be unrealistic to be achieved in the first go. The more realistic path would be to have a stretched target to be achieved in phases. Similarly, certain KPIs, though existing in the system, are better monitored and controlled after the ERP system attains maturity.
The other major problem faced is that, more often than not, for reasons of data transfer or just to be safe it is decided that the legacy systems run for a period of time. Many a time, the users, having a choice, display resistance to change. The only panacea to this is a strong management resolve to insist on implementation of the system. Even with all the preparations during the implementation, during post-implementation there will be need for course correction many times. Simply because:
A change in the business environment requires a change in the CSFs, resulting in a new or changed set of KPIs necessitating reconfiguration
A review indicates a need for change in some process
Vision changes in the ERP and improvements in hardware and communication technology necessitate changes New additions to the business require extra functionality.
The international trend is to out source the activity of maintenance and upgradation to enable the company to concentrate on its core business activity. Correcting its course can be done by going in for an ERP audit, which is an emerging trend.
This audit could be general in nature or very specific. One of the specialised areas is to evaluate the security, authorisation and controls. An audit could be triggered either by a perceived inadequacy in terms of return on investment or by a simple desire to improve existing systems.