Determining Success Criteria of your ERP Project
ERP buyers today are smart. They do their homework, define their selection criteria, compare systems, and do research on their selected business partner. Surprisingly though, determining ERP project success criteria is often overlooked even by the most diligent firms.
Starting with the end in mind
At the completion of your project, what will make you look back and say, “I’m really glad I went through this process and selected this system”? If you’re unsure, then you’ve got a little work ahead of you. Determining success criteria should be part of your initial system search process and it is critical to selection of the best system for your firm.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure
How will you know your project was a success? Often when I ask this question, I get a reply such as “it will work” or “it will make things easier”. But what does that really mean? Perhaps “easier” to you means you’re no longer duplicating efforts by maintaining so many spreadsheets or reports are more timely and meaningful, customer satisfaction statistics are improved, etc. By deciding what success means to you and your firm, you’re well on your way to helping ensure your project success.
One way can be to link success criteria to the project goals; however project goals typically span a longer time frame. Because of this, it’s recommended that your success criteria have both near and longer term definition. Tying near term success criteria to objectives, and longer term success criteria to goals can make the task a little easier.
Goals vs objectives
Goals and objectives are terms that are often used interchangeably; however in system implementations, they’re really two different concepts. Project objectives are specific tasks to be accomplished that lead to the completion of your project. Examples of objectives include installing software on a new server, providing user training, documenting month end procedures, etc. Contrast that with a project goal such as, provide infrastructure that enables the company to expand into three foreign markets within 5 years. If your success criteria focuses solely on that goal, well, that’s a long time after your implementation is complete to decide if you made a wise decision. You and your boss will probably want to know before that. By including major project objectives in your success criteria (such as milestone completion), those early wins help steer your efforts and can even allow course corrections during the project if needed.
Making the right decision
Bottom line – it’s critical to take the time to include ERP project success criteria in your system selection. If you know what success looks like in your company, you’re much more likely to realize your ROI and select an ERP system that meets your requirements for years to come.