Of Wedding Bells and ERP Implementation

At first glance, weddings and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet, as I start on my journey to marriage next year, planning the wedding with my fiancée has shown me that the two might not make such strange bedfellows after all.

Wedding planning is difficult. Those of you who are already married will nod your heads knowingly, while the single folk might feign an attempt to hide a smirk.

One of the biggest commonalities between the two revolves around project planning. Trying to create the perfect wedding involves timelines, diary coordination, and flow charts up till now deemed as unimaginable. Okay, I might have made up the flow chart bit. The point is that just like a fairy tale wedding, an effective ERP implementation cannot take place without a lot of preparation work and planning.

From personal experience, I have found that wedding planning is relatively fluid up until a point. There are many options open to a couple and a lot of flexibility around things like a venue, guest list, and so on. However, as soon as a date has been chosen – things start to get complicated. What were once limitless options now revolve around the date, the deadline, the ‘no turning back now’ moment. ERP implementations tend to be the same. Companies have many choices and strategies open to them while still deciding to go down the ERP route. The complexity of the solution and how it will integrate into the organization are still theoretical. As soon as the decision is made to implement, then the hard work begins.

In both instances, communication becomes the most important requirement. Once a wedding date has been decided on, there is no longer the option to move it. Just think of the knock-on effect it will have on venue hire, catering, whether your photographer will be available on another date, etc. Similarly, the first month of an ERP implementation is the most difficult as the temptation is there to continually move the goalposts.

And we haven’t even started on the seating plan yet. Project team dynamics is absolutely critical, just like knowing how to select the right family members and friends to sit together in order not to create irreparable relations going forward. I believe that the later may just make managing an ERP implementation team look quite easy in comparison…

In summary, the top three points that I’d say are the most crucial when planning an ERP implementation include:

  1. The team that works on the project needs to be clear about roles and responsibilities, and there needs to be chemistry amongst team members.
  2. Clearly define your ERP implementation strategy, but remain flexible to tweak your approach where necessary.
  3. Communication at all times is key – to manage expectations and ensure that all team members are on the same page at all times.

So I’d like to invite you to join me on this road. While seating at our wedding might be limited, I want to encourage you all to follow me as I relate my wedding planning experiences to the practicalities around ERP. It is definitely turning out to be an interesting and life changing journey.

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