Business transformation, step by step.
My team and I sell NetSuite, the world’s No. 1 cloud-based ERP, for a living.
My role is single-minded; win new business and retain it. However, we expect to earn the right to keep our customers by delivering a positive project experience and ongoing relationship. You can’t do that in our industry without solid references behind you.
And as New Zealand is a very small country (where news travels fast), my professional reputation is on the line with every implementation. I need to know that my customers can rely on my company to do a good job – as you never know where that CFO or key decision-maker turns up next. So customer outcomes matter to me as much as the initial sale.
That said, it’s probably no surprise that I have strong opinions about why your implementation strategy is as important as your choice of partner and product.
For me, success with NetSuite is a journey. And I believe it’s important to tackle that journey in carefully considered steps rather than steamroll your way to an end.
A step-by-step approach isn’t about lowering your expectations. It’s about trying to not do too much at once. If you roll out the project in manageable steps, you’ll get more out of the solution. But most importantly, you’ll build momentum and realise business benefits faster and sooner.
When you undertake a project that’s so big, long-winded and convoluted that everyone flops across the line by go-live (and they even struggle to remember the original ‘why’ of the project), you’re short-changing your business.
ERP project fatigue endangers the quality and timeliness of your project deliverables. It decreases the job satisfaction experienced by your project team and increases their stress levels. Not something you want to do to your hard-to-replace, best, and brightest people.
I’ve seen all too many instances where customers insist on a full speed ahead, non-stop ERP rollout. And by the time it’s done, their people have no stamina or enthusiasm left to do anything with the solution. They’re sick to death of the whole project and are indifferent to sharing the good news with other staff. Instead of being champions, they’re detractors. And the damage is hard to undo.
Project fatigue is only one of the reasons why I recommend taking carefully considered steps in an ERP project. The second is user acceptance.
Big changes to routine and habits are often difficult for people to accept, especially if they feel their job or skills are potentially under challenge. Logical, progressive change allows users to come to terms with and use the new solution over time and give pause to the impulse to automate every possible process. Some settling in time allows you to apply some perspective in deciding what workflows offer the greatest value to the business.
The size of the steps you need to take is, of course, relative to your starting point. If you initially just want to replace a large number of manual processes and spreadsheets to support your rapid growth path, then the first step could actually be a pretty small one. Yet it will deliver massive benefits.
Whereas if you’re replacing some seriously outdated highly bespoke technology (think 10-15 years old), which everyone’s very used to working with, then it requires a much greater step. More of a leap to be honest! And as there’s no easy way to bridge the gap between legacy technology and modern cloud-based applications, it’s a challenge which needs to be addressed with care.
Each step of an implementation has to deliver business value. But more importantly, the outcome has to provide your business with the encouragement to keep on going. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and discouraged with how hard it’s been (a major killer of most long-term visions), your people need to feel enthused and positive about the next stage.
One of the huge advantages of NetSuite is that, as a cloud application, the version updates are automatic and worry-free, so it naturally lends itself to a progressive roll-out. There’s no need to think about server upgrades or retesting, and you won’t outgrow it in 18 months. In short, your future isn’t limited by the version you invested in, or how much you adopted on Day One.
You can also instantly tackle challenges in the business with the valuable tools that are an integral part of NetSuite. Stakeholders can help the business overcome issues now, not add it to their 2-year roadmap. And the same goes for your finance team. Instead of collapsing over the line with their end-of-month reporting, they can immediately start using analysis tools to provide easier, more accurate reporting, valuable business insights and direction.
We can help you define your project steps based on our knowledge and experience, and in line with your most pressing business objectives. We place the onus on ourselves to help set clear and reasonable expectations. Your implementation plan may not achieve Nirvana in the five months you dreamed of. It may in fact take much longer. But it will be at a pace which allows you to truly benefit from the solution.
I believe each stage of an implementation project should be a stepping-stone to improvement. An opportunity to make your business processes incrementally better, to leverage the toolkit that comes as part of the application, and to maximise your investment.
Well, no. In truth, the journey to business transformation doesn’t end. The important thing is to start.
Lisa Nicks, ERP Sales Manager
+64 9 379 0525