Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is classroom study key to successful ERP implementation?

The introduction of Information Technology, especially enterprise systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, is a common way of implementing organizational change today. Such enterprise system implementations frequently come with new software systems and business processes that substantially alter workflow and jobs.

While the annual investment of several millions of rupees in ERP systems is staggering, estimates indicate that there could be chances of failures in implemented systems and such failures have been observed even in highly successful organizations. Organizations that successfully implement ERP systems, including new software and business processes, have reported enormous benefits, such as greater efficiency and effectiveness at the individual employee and organizational levels.

One of the primary causes of failure is the inability of managers to effectively manage the change process. Managers frequently fail to consider the organizational environment and culture relying, instead, on success stories of some organizations that used a big-bang strategy, an implementation strategy in which all modules of an ERP system are implemented simultaneously and in a short period time, to manage their own change. The result can be catastrophic for firms, with consequences up to and including going out of business as a result of a failed ERP implementation.

Given this backdrop, it is important to teach diverse aspects of ERP implementations to make today's information systems and business management curricula relevant to organizational practice. Yet, the effective integration of ERP related knowledge into curricula continues to be a challenge with some suggesting that relevant knowledge should be imparted in a wide range of classes. Of the many areas related to ERP systems, the ability of students to understand that different strategies of ERP implementation may be necessary in different scenarios is an important one, especially for those who may go on to manage such implementations.

A "one-medicine-does-not-cure-all-ailments" argument goes well with when it comes to ERP implementation strategies. Yet, mistakes and failures continue. Sorely needed is a teaching approach that can open the eyes of managers, present and future, to the different strategies to ERP success, and when a particular strategy is appropriate. With a good teaching approach with minimum three cases of examples could help the student identify the areas where a failure is bound to happen and may rectify it. It is also a must that each student is assigned to read only one of the three cases, lessening the total workload, but the students understand the differences in approaches and successes of ERP implementations related to all three cases.

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If I was a customer…

Not long time back, I was asked by a customer (Mr. Sandeep, Managing Director of P M Engineering), “Sudheer, if given a chance, what would you like to be”. Well, honestly at any given time I would still prefer to be a Computer geek.

But, then, I said, I would want to be “on the other side of the table” …be a customer and feel good about negotiating and making demands.

However, let me also own up that over a period of time I have become more of a sales man. I yet enjoy selling because selling also involves technical skills then just a shear marketing skill. Customers today have become far smarter than they had ever been in the history. Even if they may not have enough budget, yet they would still evaluate all ERP’s including SAP, ORACLE, RAMCO and other brands including ERESOURCE. It just reminds me about a potential prospect that I visited about a week back, the customer had evaluated all leading brands and said that we did liked the features of 2 other ERP’s, but I like your product because of the scalability that it offers. Probably, we demonstrated the scalability of eresource much better than any other ERP vendors.

Eresouce ERP is indeed a scalable ERP and can adapt to any business dynamics without much configuration or customization. Besides, it is a browser based ERP.

Mostly all customers ask me this question “eresource is a web based or browser based ERP” does that mean that Internet connection is required 24/7 to access your ERP. There is a misconception about Web based application that people have in their mind… Then, I have to tell them that the strength of browser based application lies in its flexibility to work on any environment, be it, LAN, WAN, Internet or Intranet.

It is like this, assuming the ERP server is deployed at the customer’s facility, then, the users of that facility would continue to work on LAN, and any other location outside the location of the customer would then access the ERP through Internet.

Well let me come back of what I would do if I was a customer to the ERP vendor. I would Map my business process with the ERP and understand the dynamics of the ERP so that I would configure all by myself to fit to my business function. If I encounter that there is a GAP which would not hamper me to GO-LIVE on the ERP, I would put my best foot forward to make sure that I GO-LIVE on as-is basis. Well, if the GAP is more than 20% then, I would out-rightly decline the ERP vendor and opt for somebody who is 90% close to my business requirements.

And during the GO-LIVE process, I would instruct the Vendor to configure/customize other elements. Given that approach, I know my implementation of ERP would still happen on time. Besides, ERP implementation is a persistent, consistent process over 6 months period. If I as a customer had to wait for 6 months for GO-LIVE or initiate the implementation process, then, I would probably be able to ripe the fruit as in the ROI may be after 3 years.

I believe there is nothing like doing it right… Important is doing it.

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ERP Implementation is all about attitude.

ERP Implementation is all about attitude, I tell you why?

10 on 10 successful and on-time implementation of ERP are because of positive approach and mindset of the users who are implementing the project. Let us all understand ERP implementation is not a Rocket Science and neither a BIG Challenge. ERP implementation is like any other task that you perform in your day-to-day doings. Generally, people have a mind-block even before the implementation process is initiated that ERP implementation is a HUGEEE challenge and frantic task.

Also, I have found that there are discomfort or sometimes fear in the mind of the Users, like, after ERP is implemented they may either lose their job or may become less indispensible. In my opinion discomfort or fear is the thought of the moment and that specific moment the users get those pessimistic possessions in the mind and delays the implementation. Given this situation, in my opinion, the Management and ERP Vendors should guide the USERS and help them know the benefits that they would enjoy after it is implemented. ERP implementation would help you gain operational excellence. Visibility of all strategic information will be available at one central market place therefore you can take your decision faster and many more.. I can go on.. and on.. and on….

Yes, I do agree during implementation there are initial work load, as in, updating the backlog, opening balances of your stocks, opening balances with bill wise break up of your debtors, creditors etc., Even to the extend these tasks can be directly migrated to the ERP system from your existing legacy system. Besides this workload, there is absolutely NO OTHER CHALLENGE.

Implementation of Timbor happened in 34 days, all ERP users stayed back late everyday for 34 days (till go-live). Management motivated all staff, took utmost care of their needs, from break-fast to dinner and incentives were provided.

Looking at the attitude and the energy of TIMBOR erp team, it reminds of the sher that Arun (my friend) had told me one day.. thought I should record it here.. It goes something like this

“khud ko kar buland itnaa..
ke himaalay ki choti pe jaa pahunche..
aur khuda tumse puche…
bol musafir, teri merzi kya hai?

Also, the management must motivate their employees. It is usual that things won’t change without some uneasiness, this is why companies should spend the time and money, training and testing their new systems with their employees, to encourage them to believe that the system will be working for them, to help streamline their processes and re-engineering outdated procedures, so overall the company will remain competitive and prosperous organization

If the mind-block is clear now then, I promise 10 on 10 Implementation can happen on-time, on-target and at the location parameter.

I am thrashing a fact about ERP VENDOR: ERP implementation is a hand-holding task. From the initiation, till the training, implementation and GO-LIVE, the vendors must hand-hold to make sure that the ERP Users are contented and there are no roadblocks.

Only negative attitude can bring an implementation down. ERP Implementation is all about attitude

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Pharmaceutical ERP implementation at Record breaking time.

First of all; before I start with this blog, I wish to thank the Employees of Sparsh Bio-Tech Pvt Ltd for making this really happen. Nalini Gadyale (Senior Consultant, eresource), I can never thank you enough for the uncanny support and commitment, without you, this would have never happened !. My special thanks to Devendra Chandel (Product Manager) eresource for his intelligence in architecting the Pharmaceutical ERP.

Sparsh Bio Tech Manufacturing Facility
I had always known that Implementing ERP for Pharmaceutical Company is a great challenge. Challenge not from the manufacturing process perspective, but from the regulatory and compliance perspective. Pharmaceutical Industry demands regulatory of compliance in each document. For example, the documentation and regulatory requirement for Product manufactured by the company (Ethical/Generic Product) is different from the Third Party manufacturing and Loan Licensing Manufacturing is different from the Generic manufacuturing and Third Party manufacturing. Simply put, the drug rule for different type of manufacturing type is different. Given that, Pharmaceutical ERP should be capable of handling all regulatory, statutory compliances easily and effectively.

I and my collegue Prasanna boarded the train for Jamnagar on 9th April 2011 for the Gap Assessment of ERP project for Sparsh Bio Tech. Sparsh Bio Tech is in the manufacturing of Tablets, Capsules and Powder drugs.

While I was at Borivali Station waiting for the Train to arrive, I called up Devendra and asked him if I could try Guerilla Implementation rather than following the standard Implementation process. Generally, Standard Implementation process takes about 4 to 6 months for the project to go-live. Guerilla Implementation is unconventional way, which means start the Implementation with what you have in store to offer and in the process, clear roadblock or bugs. Devendra confirmed that we can try this approach as everything that is required for Pharmaceutical company and drug rule is readily available in eresource ERP.

I had made my mind by now that I am going to try this, no matter what.

We arrived at Jamnagar on the 10th noon. I was eager about the Idea of GO-LIVE strategy, thus, did not spend much time in the hotel to freshen-up and straight marched at the customer’s Office.

It appeared that the team of Sparsh was eagerly waiting to receive the consultants (myself and Prassana) so that they could initiate the ERP Gap Assessment. Gap assessment is the first step towards the implementation of ERP. In the Gap assessment we understand the Gap between the ERP process and the process practiced by the customer. The Customer had their mind-set that the implementation would take about 6 months. I was received by Mr. Sushant Maru, Director of Sparsh and Mr. Jitendra Shah, Chief Financial Officer and Mr. Sunil Bhai, Administrative and IT officer. The core team members were then invited in the Conference to discuss the ERP kick-off meeting.

I demonstrated eresource Pharmaceutical ERP demo to all the staff and Department heads. From the expression of the team members, it appeared that they all liked the features and functions of eresource ERP. Taking the benefit of their expression, I proposed Sushant to allow me to initiate the Implementation and Go-live process with immediate effect, instead of the Standard Implementation approach (starting with gap assessment, design document creation, design sign off, User acceptance test, training, Implementation and then go-live).

I thank Sushant for the trust that he illustrated on me and allowing me to kick-start the ERP implementation from the DAY 1.

We started the implementation/Go-Live process from the day one. The staff of Sparsh were very co-operative, mainly Mr. Jitendra, Sunil Bhai, Ms. Dhara, Rounak, Mr. Mayekar, Deepak, Dilip and others.

I would be lying to you if I tell you that the implementation/ Go-Live process was smooth. There were indeed lot of obstacles, barrier, Bugs and other issues. But it was only because of Nalini and her team I was able to clear all those obstacles and roadblock and proceed with Implementation.

Team of Sparsh worked non-stop, including on holidays ,stayed late in the evening, worked extra hours to capture the back log entries. Finally, on the tenth day, we were LIVE on eresource ERP.

I think, this was just a beginning of new revolution in the ERP space.

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