Disruptive nature of ERP projects

Many project management authorities assert that from project management stance all projects are equal. I dare saying that some projects are more equal than others.

In my last post, I argued why I believe software (and ERP) projects are different. But something came to my mind today, and it’s really an important differentiator of ERP projects from other kinds of projects.

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Is an ERP implementation project just a project?

image “Software projects are no different from other projects”.

This statement is being repeated over and over at project management courses and seminars, even endorsed in books.

It’s true that software (and ERP implementation, as a subset of software) projects have many traits in common with projects in other disciplines. But ignoring their specifics is almost as wrong as saying that software projects are completely different than other projects.

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Liquidity, Cost Accounting and Kitting

It’s hardly any news for the lucky 21 countries which have had them by default for about two years, but for other 18 which haven’t, there is an alarmingly low awareness about three interesting NAV functionalities: Liquidity, Cost Accounting and Kitting.

These three have been named Local Functionality, which means they are a part of a localized version in some of the countries. For other countries, this functionality is not available by default, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be licensed or implemented for customers in other countries as well.

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5th rule of agile ERP: interface where possible

imageOne of the biggest absurdities about ERP systems springs from the very word we use so often when describing ERP: integrated.

ERP is an integrated system: it integrates all data and processes into a single application. Different modules look over different aspects of data and processes, but a change in one module automatically reflects in all others.

A fantastic concept. When it was invented, it streamlined processes, boosted productivity and eliminated overhead and error.

So, whenever a new functionality is needed by a company, it should be integrated into the ERP, to benefit from the integrated system. Right?

Wrong.

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4th rule of agile ERP: avoid heavy customizations

You can’t avoid customizations. Vanilla ERP is a great first step, and a valuable tool for establishing common language between the customer and the consultant. But in the long run? Probably not. Pristine uncustomized ERP won’t be sufficient, because of the gaps between your way and ERP’s way. Sooner or later, gaps will have to go.

Two most common ways of closing functionality gaps are customizing the software, and changing the processes. You can almost always touch general processes, optimize them, twist them, bend them, make them more efficient or even eliminate them. But when it is about industry specifics that add true value or contribute to company’s competitive edge, customization is the answer.

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