While international ERP deployments are similar in many ways to other large scale IT projects, the international dimension adds a layer of complexity and risk. Successful international deployments require the IT team to deal with challenges that are unique to international rollout projects.
This post gives a very brief introduction to some of the key challenges facing teams when rolling out ERP internationally.
A is for Access
Give your key end-users plenty of opportunities to contribute during the design phase. Allowing all stakeholders plenty of access will help in defining common processes, local differences and will facilitate buy-in.
B is for Boundaries
While it is important to gather as much input as possible, eventually the project leaders will have to make clear decisions on what the priorities are.
The project manager will probably have to balance the needs of departments, Business Units and countries. Not only does this make requirement gathering more difficult than for domestic IT projects, but inevitably, it also makes it more political.
Given the range of stakeholders usually involved in international rollouts strong governance and very clear processes on how to manage change requests are even more important than in domestic IT projects.
C is for Change Management
This is not just an IT project, remember by changing the IT system you are changing people’s job roles. Change can be frightening. When people are pushed out of their comfort zone, there is always a risk that they will strongly resist the new system. Organizational Change Management is therefore not a nice to have, it is essential to project success.
According to a Panorama Consulting Report, organizational change management issues were identified as the #1 reason for implementation success or failure.
D is for Diversification
One of the most challenging aspects of international rollouts is finding the balance between the benefits of economies of scale on the one hand, and maintaining local responsiveness on the other. To address this issue, a flexible configuration of the main model (company template) is required.
There are usually differences at country level for Legal Reporting, Tax Legislation and Bank Payments, so key users need to be involved in defining country specific needs. Local needs need to be taken into account when defining the company template and also when deciding on the level of flexibility and freedom granted to local Business Units.
The goal is to achieve consolidation at a corporate level while still providing the necessary details at country level. For example, common charts of accounts can be defined to a certain level of detail while at the same time allowing local countries to define their specific accounts at lower level in the chart of accounts.
E is for Experts
International projects bring a unique set of challenges so just having ERP project experience is usually not enough. The right team is one which has strong technical skills, industry knowledge, international experience and which understands the cultural challenges. Companies will often look to partners to bring the specific skills which may not be available in–house.
F is for Focus
ERP rollouts take time. Changes are common, both internally and externally. To address this issue, organizations are advised to spend time defining a very clear project scope. This should be translated into clear goals, milestones and deliverables.
Although it might be desirable to change the scope along the way due to new insights, this is something management should be careful of. Changing the scope might not only be costly in terms of resources but might also have a negative impact on the motivation of the project team. Focus and strong governance are essential to respecting time–lines and budgets and ensuring a positive project dynamic.
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