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2009/08/18 - Nine Keys To a Successful Implementation...

posted Aug 18, 2009, 12:48 PM by Rick Anderson
Last week I had the pleasure to rhetorically discuss the keys to a successful implementation.  Life is funny in that there are patterns that repeat over and over again and this discussion was a repeat of one that I had several years ago.  One of the special opportunities in my career was to be part of a team charged with putting together educational material on MRP as part of a government grant.  It is always interesting when you work side by side with a living legend - in this case Terry Lunn - one of the premier authors on MRP.  My contributions to the material was on implementation strategy and execution of the MRP engine.  Based upon my experiences implementing enterprise systems, I wrote the following in August of 2002 as the nine keys to a successful implementation...

Information Sheet:  How to Implement Successfully
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The following items are essential to ensure a successful system implementation:

1) Top management support:  The first key to a successful implementation is to gain top management support.  An enterprise system of any type is not an IS/IT project, or an Engineering project, or Accounting project, or enter department name here project.  It is a project that affects the entire company.  In order for the enterprise system to be successful; top management must provide leadership and commitment, define the purpose, and give the authority for change.

2) Measurable objectives:  The second key to success, after gaining top management support, is to define a purpose and the major benefits.  Why would a company go down the difficult path of implementing something new if there were no benefits?  There must be measurable objectives defined up front to give the implementation team (and the company) focus and direction.

3) Allocation of resources and time commitments:  The third key to implementing the new system is to get the appropriate resources and time.  Implementing any type of enterprise system is a major task that takes a tremendous amount of coordination and effort.  The members of the implementation team must be pulled from their daily activities in order to achieve success.

4) Written procedures on the business process and the information flow:  Documentation and communication are critical and the fourth key to the successful implementation of an enterprise system.  Ideas, discussions, decisions, instruction manuals, memos to top management - the written document becomes key to moving the implementation in the right direction.  note: utilizing Google's Sites as a central hub for a project provides a one stop location for project success!

5) Culture of change/continuous improvement:  The ability to change and continuously improve is the fifth key to a successful implementation.  The implementation team must look for continuous improvements in the business during the implementation and instruct the company on how to accept change.  Change will only occur if top management has provided the team with the authority (first key) and if the change is communicated to all personnel (fourth key).

6) Education and training:  A good program for education and training will help break down the barriers to change and are the sixth key to successfully implementing the enterprise system.  Education means explaining to the users the why of the new system and business procedures.  Training means the how - what buttons to push, what reports to run, etc.  In order to implement the new system successfully, employees need to understand why they are performing an action and how to perform it.

7) User commitment:  The seventh key to success is to get users committed to using the new enterprise system.  Promote the implementation.  Get everyone in the company excited.  Then, shut off the old system and use the new one.

8) Accurate data:  The term GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) is familiar to all computer users.  Avoiding GIGO is the critical eighth key.  Any enterprise system generates all sorts of reports and information - none of it will be valid if the initial data entered is incorrect.

9) Utilization of Deming Wheel:  Plan, Do, Check, Act is the ninth key to success and should become ingrained into every team member.  The Deming Wheel provides a methodology for continuous improvement.  It keeps the implementation moving along and allows a method of recovery for those instances when a failure occurs.