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Business Drives ERP Initiatives by Paul Schenck

by Debbie Wilson  |  March 1, 2018  |  Comments Off on Business Drives ERP Initiatives by Paul Schenck

Paul on the beachAn ERP initiative is frequently the largest IT project a CIO may undertake. Sometimes it is their last! CIOs can think of ERP like Spider-Man, “With great size comes great opportunity.” That opportunity is the potential for digital business transformation, for which the ERP system serves as a platform. It can enable your enterprise to adapt to market changes and adopt the latest processes and technologies to scale and optimize your business operations. However, too often the initiative fails to realize these benefits due to lack of business engagement. This is seen in a couple common scenarios:

          1.  The business wants the ERP initiative, but they throw it over the wall to IT to take care of the tech stuff.

          2. IT wants the ERP initiative, but the business is doing just fine with their legacy system and business processes. The business sees it as just a tech upgrade, like moving off Windows XP.

The first scenario is the most common and it comes down to the business culture where IT is seen as order takers. To overcome this, that business-to-IT dynamic must shift so that IT is seen as a partner, a group that enables business goals through ongoing collaboration. Engage business leaders in developing an IT and ERP strategy that is driven from the business strategy. Business leaders must understand that their input will define and lead to success. Once they buy in, establish ERP principles to drive the strategy forward and setup governance to guide the application of those principles. Reinforce that continued engagement of the business in leading the initiative is vital.

The second scenario is more challenging, but is not as common since it usually results in the initiative never getting off the ground to begin with. To overcome this scenario, a stronger business case must be made beyond the negative impact to IT and risks the legacy system presents. Shift the messaging to more prominently show the positive benefits to the business. Take on a thought leadership role and proactively propose new ways that the ERP can improve the way the business operates. Once the business understands the potential, they will take a more active role in defining and realizing those benefits.

By identifying your scenario and taking needed steps to improve engagement, your business driven ERP initiative will succeed.


Deborah R Wilson
Managing Vice President, ERP Strategy Team
12 years at Gartner
20 years IT industry

Deborah Wilson, a recovering Gartner research analyst, leads the Gartner ERP strategy research team. Read Full Bio

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