Moran Technology Consulting

Maximizing ERP Lessons Learned – Part I: Planning for Success

This article is part one of a ten-part series that will focus on lessons learned from decades of project and program management within higher education.

Embarking on an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) journey within higher education is a monumental undertaking, one that promises transformative benefits but also presents significant challenges. As institutions gear up for ERP implementation, careful planning becomes paramount to ensure success. Let’s delve into key planning considerations that can make or break your ERP readiness journey:

  1. True Transformation and its Impacts: “True” transformation goes beyond just technology; it impacts the very fabric of your institution. It affects scope, schedule, cost, and quality of your implementation. Recognize that achieving transformation requires a holistic approach that touches every aspect of your operations.
  2. Assessing Transformation Affordability: It’s crucial to ask, “How much transformation can we afford?” Be realistic about your institution’s financial constraints and priorities. Balancing aspirations with available resources ensures a sustainable ERP implementation journey.
  3. Vendor ROI Claims: Vendor sales representatives often tout exaggerated Return on Investment (ROI) figures in terms of both time and dollars. Scrutinize these claims carefully and conduct your own ROI analysis based on realistic expectations and institutional goals.
  4. Aligning Expectations: Alignment of expectations is key among all stakeholders, including senior leadership, faculty, staff, and students. Establish clear objectives, timelines, and deliverables to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the ERP implementation journey.
  5. Discussing Constraints Early and Often: Open communication about constraints is essential. Whether it’s budget limitations, regulatory requirements, or technological constraints, addressing these issues early and involving partners in decision-making fosters transparency and accountability.
  6. Engagement for Success: Your engagement is pivotal for a successful ERP implementation and the future of your institution. Invest in hiring backfill for those staff participating in the project/program to maintain operational continuity. Ensure adequate coverage of all process areas, allowing staff to contribute and learn while maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
  7. Utilizing Project/Program Staff for Future Support: Leverage the expertise gained by project/program staff for future support positions within your institution. Invest in their training and development to build a sustainable support infrastructure post-implementation.

In conclusion, ERP readiness in higher education requires meticulous planning and strategic decision-making. By acknowledging the impacts of true transformation, assessing affordability, scrutinizing vendor claims, aligning expectations, discussing constraints openly, and prioritizing stakeholder engagement, institutions can lay a solid foundation for a successful ERP implementation journey. Embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead, knowing that your efforts today will shape the future of your institution for years to come.

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About the author: Christopher (Chris) Mercer has over forty years of experience in higher education, including the last twenty-five years consulting as an Executive Program/Project Director/Manager and other leadership roles.  Chris has managed or been engaged in more than four dozen programs\projects during his career.