Deployments of today’s cloud-ready ERP solutions are less lengthy and disruptive than the complex projects of the past. When they go awry, it’s often for the same reasons that derailed ERP implementations years ago. Sikich teams regularly perform ERP rescue and recovery to turn such efforts around and deliver the promise of the technology to businesses.
Implementations of the large, all-in-one ERP systems that for years dominated the market could often take most of a year or longer. Budget and schedule overruns were not uncommon. Occasionally, such projects failed, even when companies and their implementation partners had planned and prepared in the best way they could. Some of the more common reasons for this were much like the conditions we still hear about today when we salvage failing ERP projects:
- Businesses choose a solution that does not fit their industry or business model.
- Executives and business groups are not on board.
- Goals and metrics are not clearly defined.
- Existing process inefficiencies continue in the new business management system.
- An implementation partner poorly serves companies without the right industry expertise or technical proficiency.
Sikich developed deep expertise in performing ERP rescue and recovery when projects threatened to go awry or had already done so. During many years of successful ERP implementations and turnarounds, we became quick and efficient at identifying the issues, bringing stakeholders together, defining realistic, meaningful goals, and implementing or re-implementing ERP software. Many of our ERP recovery clients have been working with Sikich ever since.
Empathetic experts to the rescue
Today’s cloud-based ERP solutions, designed to meet the real requirements of people in business roles, are generally more accessible and faster to deploy than earlier generations of ERP. However, in addition to the common missteps we mentioned, companies and their technology partners may not always be aware of what it takes to perform a successful ERP deployment in the cloud and what the real advantages of the cloud can be. Implementations of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and other ERP systems can fail, and we perform ERP rescue and recovery if they call on us. When businesses are suffering through a compromised Dynamics 365 project, contact Microsoft directly, we often learn about their travails minutes later.
When these companies connect with Sikich, they can draw on the expertise of consultants and business analysts who have spent a significant portion of their careers in companies across industries before they joined us. Our team members’ first-hand experience helps them understand how to manage complex technology projects with a view toward the outcomes clients hope for, in a way that is minimally disruptive to their people and processes. They can empathize with business people who need to get their jobs done while also managing organizational and technical change.
Starting over and getting it right
How exactly we manage an ERP turnaround effort depends on when we get the call. Occasionally, we become involved late, when an implementation is already complete. It might then be the case that the Dynamics 365 system is not generating the benefits a company expected and doesn’t perform as it was shown in a software demo. Users may be quietly rebelling by creating their own workarounds, relying on tools with which they are more comfortable. Almost always, red flags appeared during the project, but nobody was ready to change course. People are reluctant to go against the consensus of their team and often feel the fault lies with them, not with the way the technology is being implemented.
As we engineer the turnaround, we are mindful that clients will be spending more time and budget on their ERP project than they anticipated. Initially, we connect with the stakeholders who spearhead the ERP initiative, and we make sure that the business groups and a participating executive sponsor are involved and accountable. We work with them to understand their top-priority and long-term goals for Dynamics 365 in the organization.
Fast, predictable, low-risk deployment
As soon as we are done with our rapid fact-finding, the Sikich HeadStart process kicks in. HeadStart incorporates our learnings and experiences from hundreds of Microsoft Dynamics ERP projects. It enables us to build a working model of a Dynamics 365 ERP solution within about six weeks, although we’ve also done this much faster.
Sikich uses sets of real, cleansed client data to create and demo the solution model. Project owners can see how the solution will function in their business processes and set the right expectations with their users. Initially, we keep the scope narrow because we aim to deliver a successful pilot project and validate our approach to a company’s management needs within clear budgetary and schedule parameters.
Giving best-practice standards free rein
In HeadStart, we use proven, best practice-based standards for processes and software configurations, given clients’ industry and business model. Standardization by means of templates and workflows helps keep projects on track and results in smoother, more efficient management of the solution in the future. Many back-office and foundational processes are indeed the same across most companies, and certainly within industries like industrial equipment manufacturing or professional services.
Keeping customizations to a minimum usually also allows for faster user familiarization and more productive adoption. And, once we know which of a company’s processes are genuinely exceptional and will not align with any standard, we can create or optimize the right ERP capabilities. Even in highly standardized implementations, we perform thorough, rigorous testing at any phase to ensure the effort is on track.
Changing course midstream
More often, clients contact us when their Dynamics 365 implementation is still in progress, and they have concerns about the impact on users and the eventual results. Sometimes, they lose confidence in their implementation partner’s ability to bring the project to a successful conclusion. In those situations, the ability to manage change without disrupting people’s working relationships and productivity is as important as the best-fit technology and a dependable, efficient deployment approach.
Business users become upset when they feel a new technology is being pushed onto them, and they have not been able to make their voices heard in how it should best enable them to do their jobs. An ERP project can derail when IT and company executives believe they have all the answers, and their colleagues from the business groups should follow their lead. That is usually an error because the technology and information requirements of the leadership group and IT are generally quite different from what business users need.
Getting business users on-board
Sikich ERP rescue and recovery specialists have the diplomatic finesse and organizational experience to quickly assemble project teams with key individuals who will be impacted by the new technology. Most of the time, users appreciate when they see how ERP can make their lives easier or how it can enable them to reach career and productivity goals. When companies have disregarded the crucial activity of keeping system users informed regarding the status of the implementation and the capabilities they can expect, we help them develop a communication strategy to share the news.
With minimal customizations, following a well-structured deployment following the Sikich HeadStart approach, Microsoft Dynamics 365 meets the majority of most companies’ requirements. We bridge any remaining gaps with well-tested ISV apps that are purpose-built for industries, user roles, or specific requirements. We can also extend the Dynamics environment by building new capabilities with such tools as Microsoft Power BI or Flow. We use standard Azure services and proven tools for accomplishing data migrations and integrations in such a way that they meet users’ needs for information and functionality.
Never get rescued again
Clients are delighted when we can turn a straying ERP deployment around and accomplishing this is also satisfying for the Sikich team. But it’s even better when we can avoid the need for ERP rescue and recovery and work with clients much earlier. We can ensure the most productive course for a Dynamics 365 implementation before any missteps threaten to derail it. We still follow the HeadStart approach but may require even less time than we do in an ERP rescue or recovery because we don’t need to correct errors and misjudgments.
In any Dynamics 365 project, we deliver a solution that can improve and adjust to meet a company’s changing requirements for years to come. In the Azure cloud environment, we can easily ensure prompt system updates and provide other resources and tools, such as machine learning or advanced analytics applications. If you want to learn more about Sikich ERP rescue and recovery services, get in touch with us.