Why Our ERP Implementation Went Well

We recently implemented a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. While the team continues to work on minor glitches, here are the reasons the implementation went well (and I had NOTHING to do with it!).

1. We hired an expert. 

Our strategic planning team decided the time had come to implement a new ERP system a few years ago. A few on our team, including me, were hesitant to actually go through with the implementation for all the right reasons (the toll on the people, the risks associated with it, and the overall complexity). This all changed when one of our team members discovered a former acquaintance was a “free agent.” This person had tremendous experience in implementing ERP systems, so we pursued and hired them. At the outset, we made ERP implementation this person’s primary job function. They got the team on board, helped us pick a good system, and worked diligently with my sister, Gretchen, to ready the organization. In retrospect, hiring this individual was an incredibly smart thing for us to do. We aren’t that smart all the time, and often fall victim to not hiring the expert because we are concerned, rightfully, about increased overhead. This is a reminder that hiring the expert is sometimes worth the expense.

2.  We empowered the bench. 

Besides hiring the superstar, we empowered several people in the organization to step up. We even created a new role for one individual, an idea which was initially met with some resistance. Ironically, as the months went by (we planned this implementation for 12 months), this individual received some of the highest praise in the organization. Their energy, positivity, and willingness to work around-the-clock was infectious. What it taught us was that empowering the bench always uncovers hidden talent. In fact, my guess is that everyone reading this blog has some undiscovered talent on their bench. So, why not empower people on your team?

3.  The rest of us let the team do their thing. 

I work very closely with my two sisters. As I mentioned above, the ERP implementation team ultimately reports up to the person we hired to take the lead (our expert), and my sister Gretchen. My other sister, Charlotte, and I were not part of that team. Nor were some of the other people on our executive strategic planning team. Instead of muddying the water, or staying involved so we felt important, we allowed the team do what it needed to do. In fact, we focused on doing the one thing Gretchen asked us to do: we always talked about the ERP launch from a positive viewpoint. As leaders, we wanted to be supportive realizing that the launch would be difficult, and we did not want to add negativity to an already complex launch. This kind of support does not cost anything, and only requires a little discipline. Most importantly, it communicates support, and belief, to the team doing the hard work.

I’m sure there were other reasons the launch succeeded. The ERP system that we implemented, IQMS, also had a terrific team that helped us throughout the launch. They deserve credit, and mention, too.

So do all the people I am not mentioning above – people in every department at Hoffer Plastics. Without ALL OF THEM, all the above simply would not have mattered. We never take their energy, effort, and attention to detail for granted. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!

On a personal level, this experience reminded me that I don’t have to be part of everything going on in the business. Notice that “being a part,” is different from “being on board,” and “being supportive.” The latter two are non-negotiable.

I also learned, again, how important hiring an expert is. Further, I was reminded that we have hidden talent throughout the organization. Thus, it is my job to present opportunities to uncover such talent!

I hope these lessons help you when your organization launches its next initiative.

embrace bald, stay bold

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