jueves, octubre 26, 2006

Eric Kimberling: buen material sobre implementación de ERP´s

Eric, miembro de Panorama Consulting Group LLC, colabora frecuentemente con IT Toolbox, un sitio excelente para conocer, aprender e investigar sobre el desarrollo e implementación de aplicaciones de empresa (lo que abarcan usualmente las siglas ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning, y EAI, Enterprise Application Integration).
En el último tiempo, son destacables sus artículos "The hidden costs of ERP", y "Why Are ERP Projects Always Over Budget?", centrados en el manejo de la implementación de estas aplicaciones verdaderamente complejas.
Sobre costos ocultos:
1) Internal company resources to make decisions on ERP requirements, help with system design, and perform testing. Aside from a full-time core team, most ERP projects require the involvement of 3-5 part-time subject matter experts for each full-time core team member.

2) Internal or external resources to manage data conversion, interface development, and report generation. Getting the system implemented is a huge milestone, but not if you haven't converted data or built the right interfaces and reports.

3) Employees to support communications, training material development, and training deployment activities. Many assume that the implementation consultants will handle this, but company employees also need to provide much of their time in helping develop materials and deploy training.

4) Time that senior management is involved in decision-making and conflict resolution. In a perfect world, employees across all office locations and geographies would be able to make decisions that everyone agrees with and that is best for the business overall. Unfortunately, in reality, senior management is often required to make decisions on behalf of the business, prioritize business needs, and provide strategic direction to ensure the project is aligned with overall business goals. There are costs associated with this time, and it should be quantified accordingly.

5) Design of business processes, particularly if the project involves a large, multi-national company with fragmented operations. ERP presents an opportunity to standardize and globalize operations across multiple locations, so arriving at a common operating model takes time and resources. It should not be assumed that the software itself will provide all the answers; business users need to decide how they are going to best leverage ERP to run their operations in the future.

6) "Backfilling" project team members with contract or other employees to manage day-to-day activities for the project team members who are no longer able to commit to their usual day-to-day jobs. It shouldn't be assumed that the business will continue to run as normal without replacing people that are devoting their time to the project.

7) Travel and expenses for team members, particularly if dealing with a global project. Project budgets should assume at least 15% of total consulting costs for travel, then double this amount to account for internal project team travel.
Sobre el incumplimiento de plazos y presupuesto:
1) Ensure executives outside of IT are involved in the vendor evaluation and planning process. Having more executives involved will help the management team identify all the hidden costs and benefits of implementing ERP.

2) Take your time during the ERP evaluation and project planning phase of the process. Too many companies rush into ERP as if the world is going to end without it, and they don't take the time to clearly lay out their business requirements, thoroughly evaluate the various vendors, and plan for a successful project. Any company that is serious about making their ERP project successful should spend at least 3-6 months on the selection and planning process, and possibly even more for companies that take longer to make decisions or are over $200 million in revenue.

3) Develop an actionable, realistic business case. A business case should be used for more than just convincing top management to approve the project. It should also be used to identify and manage operational business benefits and key performance indicators during and after the implementation.

4) Develop a realistic project plan and implementation timeframe. It may seem obvious that you won't know your true costs until you develop an implementation plan, but too many companies try developing an estimate before a plan has been identified. This is a huge recipe for a significant cost overrun.

5) Be open to the fact that it might not be time for ERP. Many may find this concept blasphemous, but even companies with the most manual processes and outdated technologies may not be suited for ERP. Perhaps a better and more cost-effective solution will help, such as business process improvements, best of breed software, etc.
Pero también son valiosos los comentarios de los lectores:
Sobre los costos ocultos, Yangoh dice:

The hidden costs have a lot to do with something like "putting the cart before the horse" syndrome. The industry norm is to engage ERP systems integrators and implementation consultants to help speed up the goal of "going life" without having any cultural revolution. The work culture may have to be changed drastically in order to adopt the new ERP systems.
It is definitely important to have SCM management education and training priot to ERP implementation, so that the business processes may have to be re-designed, improved and fine-tuned.
Due to the costs of consulting on a per man-day basis, in a lot of cases, it is not uncommon to try to reduce the number of man days to "going life". In many instances the life span of the ERP systems implemented with the compressed and expedited project timeframe can become very short, simply because more often than not the key users may revert to their old ways of doing things if the system does not suit them.
If only enterprises have the proper SCM education and training prior to purchasing a major ERP systems, then the costs of business transformation may be reduced drastically. It can also be true that sometimes it may not be necessary to change the systems at all, if only proper business process systems synchronisation (www.mpicsdb.blogspot.com) has been sorted out.
The other problem is the obsession with brand name ERP rather than going for the best in class or best of breed application solutions. In any case, operations management is still perceived as an art, so many enterprises can try new business practices but with the entrenched deep-rooted time-tested culture and processes.
The people factor is the least priority with some implementers forcing their way through the configuration of the ERP systems without getting the buy-ins and the approval of the key users.
If we use ERP as the enabler, then getting the business processes sorted out and synchronised should be the top priority besides looking at the opportunity for simplification and standardisation.
Sobre el exceso en presupuesto, Doug Hadden

I wonder whether the ERP industry suffers from the "blame the victim syndrome". Don't get me wrong, this advice is realistic. But, the solution to the ERP implementation problem seems to be generic - how to run large complex projects. Project Management 101. Isn't there something that the ERP vendors themselves can do to reduce the risk of going over budget?
Every time an ERP vendor reacts to a failed or late implementation, they point out that the customer's schedule was unrealistic - there weren't enough trained staff members - business processes presented by the client weren't accurate - there wasn't a long enough testing period (and so on). All of these are absolutely correct - in context to the ERP vendor's business model. When will these vendors smarten up and find ways to reduce the risk? Or, are they making too much money to change and upset the value chain? Possibly they are too focused on features or integrating acquisitions rather than worrying about usability, time to results, sustainability etc. Perhaps making ERP more complex increases switching costs. Don’t you wonder what would happen if ERP companies spent as much on simplification as they do on marketing?
On the other hand, to what extent are the victims responsible for predatory behavior? There’s more than enough evidence that ERP implementations are fraught with danger to know that vendors leverage hyperbole during the sales process. How can any responsible organization enter into an ERP contract without knowing these well-publicized risks?

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