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Executive buy-in is critical - Part Two

Posted on 24 April 2012 by Steve Bassaw

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My previous blog was about the importance of leadership and executive buy-in during Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations. Without top-down leadership, no one else in the organisation will buy-in either, and the company will not get much value from the software.

Now, think about extending the same buy-in to others in the organization. You, the executive, are the General leading the charge. But you cannot execute the vision and strategy to your entire organization all by yourself. A General needs lieutenants to assist. I like to refer to these lieutenants as “champions,” or “Seekers of Value.”

What defines an ERP champion? Essentially it is a person who “gets it,” the type of person who is not satisfied with the status quo, who is naturally driven to improve things and, importantly, who sees the vision of using the ERP system as a tool for improvement. The champion might be a manager but it is definitely not limited to managers. Look around your company - you probably already know who your champions are.

It is critically important to support your champions, because their inspiration is contagious. When they achieve successes using the ERP system (even small successes) other people start to buy in and they too become “infected.” I have seen real life examples of this, both as an ERP user, and as an implementer/trainer.

When I was a user at a manufacturing company, most of us in Operations (myself included) were ERP novices, so we struggled to use the system effectively, and we didn’t trust the system’s data. But some of us felt there must be a way to get more benefit from the system. As production planner I managed to get some ERP training and was trying my best to clean up data, for example, by inputting proper sales forecasts.

One day a buyer asked me why the system was telling him to buy an unusually large quantity of a raw material. He didn’t trust the mysterious number and preferred to order the ‘average’ quantity that he usually ordered. So we used a feature I discovered during training to trace back to the source of the demand. Lo and behold, I had entered a large forecast for an upcoming promotion on the finished goods, which caused a spike in the demand of the raw material. The system was right! Realization dawned on the buyer that we really could use the system to our benefit. The buyer had ‘caught’ the ERP bug. He even subsequently started cleaning up his own data in the system by, for example, entering accurate purchased lead times, knowing that he (and the company) could reap the benefits.

I’ve seen the same thing as a trainer at SYSPRO Canada. One of our customers had been struggling to fit the software to their production process, so I worked with one of their employees, who was quite junior and fairly new – definitely not a manager or a person in authority. During the training his enthusiasm and desire to learn how the system could deliver benefits was infectious and other people started to see that if he could do it, then they could too.

You might think that gaining benefits from an ERP system is a measured, step-by-step process of incremental gains. Sometimes this is true, but often the gains also come in waves, driven by champions who have seen the vision and sweep others along with them. As senior management, ensure that you support your champions, and you will get far more value from your system.

Learn how to apply inventory optimization to your business


Topics: Business software, ERP Implementation, seeker of value, ERP systems

Steve Bassaw

Steve Bassaw has been with SYSPRO for over 17 years, starting as a Support Analyst where he learned the SYSPRO product in depth. Before joining SYSPRO, Steve was a SYSPRO software user at a manufacturing company in the role of production planner and materials manager. To paraphrase a well-known TV commercial, Steve says “he liked the software so much he joined the company."

One of Steve’s core talents is the ability to translate software jargon and concepts into layman’s terms. This makes Steve a natural at training SYSPRO partners and customers on fitting SYSPRO manufacturing modules to their business processes.

Steve has been a member of APICS for 15 years - APICS is the global leader and premier source of knowledge in supply chain, operations management, production, inventory, materials management, purchasing, and logistics. He has also achieved the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation.

Steve also works closely with one of Canada’s leading technology schools, BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). Steve helped develop curriculum to train students on ERP/manufacturing concepts for the Operations Management program. Steve is also Chair of the Advisory Committee for BCIT’s Business/IT program, contributing his knowledge on how Information Technology is actually used to support real world business requirements


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