In this three-part series, we focus on the importance of business process management in your ERP solutions. What is the difference between successful ERP implementations and those that don’t deliver expected benefits, run over budget, or vastly extend their schedule? In our experience, the key make-or-break factor is business process management. If your company is planning to newly implement or replace an ERP system, business process management helps you realize the best alignment between the way your business works and the new application technology infrastructure.
When companies look for an ERP system, they usually try to find a solution that meets their industry-specific needs with minimal customization. They focus on their business processes, not just the application features. They want to deploy it in a low-risk, efficient manner, so their organization can take advantage of the new tools and experience a return on its investment in a reasonable timeframe. The solution needs to be reliable, support all business activities, and have the flexibility and scalability to support growth or changing business requirements.
Business process management can reduce the risk of ERP implementations by keeping the focus on how the business works -- as opposed to technological features. When ERP solutions align with business processes, it becomes much easier to implement standard, extensible solutions with minimal customization. The alignment also helps make the ERP system more predictable, and enables it to generate ROI sooner.
Implementations can fail to meet the expectations of customers and their technology providers for a number of reasons. Some organizations lack the maturity to define their business processes, which makes it nearly impossible for an implementation to meet their needs.
Companies and their vendors may struggle with documenting requirements and controlling the scope of a deployment. Poor knowledge transfer may result in the lack of a shared understanding regarding goals, processes, and implementation progress. Lack of industry expertise can result in an ERP system that does not fit the business. Any of these conditions may lead to a disappointing, expensive, unproductive solution misfit.
Technology providers who understand these issues shift their focus from application features and functionality to how a customer business works. Business process management, together with a technology provider’s industry and domain expertise, can ensure that ERP systems truly reflect how an organization functions instead of imposing an artificial structure on it. That alignment, in turn, facilitates rapid solution adoption by users, shortens the time to generate tangible benefits from technology, and reduces the risk of complex deployments. With business process management, you can give all stakeholders a common language and reference.