As the CFO of an organization, your responsibility is to ensure efficient and effective financial operations and records, and influence overall strategy. An ERP is the foundation of the operations of a business. For a CFO, it enables you to track and report on all business transactions, analyse information, ensure governance and compliance, and increasingly do this via mobile devices. Therefore, you need to be very sure your ERP project will deliver what the business requires, and also what was promised.
Before going ahead with an ERP project, you should have addressed these questions.
Planning and selection
- What is the executive board’s experience with business software? Will there be sufficient executive involvement beforehand, and how will it be maintained during the project and afterwards?
- Are the business objectives clear, and is there detailed understanding of what you want to achieve? Do you just want a new system, or do you want to change the business – its processes, what roles people perform?
- How will you engage with vendors? Will you short-list with the use of an extensive RFP (Request for Proposal) sent to lots of vendors; use recommendations and peer contacts to identify a smaller number of vendors; do your own research on the Internet to identify possible vendors; employ the services of an external consultant?
- How will the chosen solution impact the way you do business – what aspects will it dictate to you, and what can you change to suit your needs?
- What benefits do you expect, and where will you look to find:
- Increased revenue
- Decreased costs
- Improved quality
- Better customer service
- Shortened manufacturing cycle time
- More accurate inventory information
- More streamlined processes
- Have you got details of all the costs involved?
- For the obvious items – software, infrastructure, services, training, support
- For less obvious ones – budget for data conversion/take on, third party software integration, change management, process modelling.
- How will you ensure that the consultants engaged for implementation can be treated as:
- trusted advisors
- knowledgeable and experienced in your industry issues
- What are the cost, time and effort implications of upgrading the ERP software?
Implementation and training
- Is the project scope clearly defined? How will you handle the scope changes that so often happen during an ERP project?
- Are the right internal people involved? What might their agendas be?
- How will training take place? If the staff needs proper training, how will it be scheduled to minimize the effect on their day-to-day work, bearing in mind they will also need the time and opportunities to practice and learn the new skills.
- How will the project impact both the intended users and the current IT team? How will they manage time on work vs. on the project?
- How will the ERP software work with other applications that the business relies on?
- How easy is it to access information via reports, or other sources?
- What procedures need to be implemented to safeguard governance, regulatory reporting and compliance?
Ongoing use, management and maintenance
- What ongoing training and education programs need to be instituted so that staff continue to use the system effectively?
- What strategies are required so that the ERP system encourages the standardization and classification of information across the business?
- How will you extend the ERP system from just a transactional system to one that assists with planning, analysis and insight?
- What people and policies will you put in place to maintain the Return on Investment of the ERP system?
- How often will you review the alignment of the ERP with the business?