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Important ERP lessons that CEO's can learn from "naive" students

I've delivered a guest lecture at the Haagsche Hogeschool for a group of 120 Business Economics students in the last year of their study. The topic was Risk Management in ERP projects.

My first questions in this lecture was to define the top-5 success factors of a given ERP implementation. For most CEO's and Business Owners a really difficult question! To my surprise, the students came up with some great answers.

These were the outcomes of this exercise:

  1. "The organization should be motivated to achieve success! And this starts of course with the board and the senior management team."
  2. "The board must explain in plain and simple language WHY the new system will be implemented in order to create enough urgency for the inevitable change process."
  3. "The organization should allow the employees enough time to be trained and to get familiar with the new system."
  4. "The organization must strive to find only one, well integrated system in order to prevent sub-systems and everlasting integrations, and to limit complexity."
  5. "The system of choice needs to be implemented with limited or no customizations at all in order to stay agile and to survive in today's disruptive world."

Pretty good answers, right?

Wished your organization would have implemented your current systems this way? ;-)

Now here's some of the reasons why I couldn't sleep last night.

Why do masses of CEO's and Business Owners all over the world fail to answer this question correctly where students easily give me the right answers?

Are these students so naive? And is our day-to-day practice so complex? Or are they able to see things simple and clear because they don't know (yet) what internal politics are. Because they don't have to defend the interests of their departments (sub-optimization). And because there is no job-protection in play? Or is it simply because they understand that today's companies can only survive with great IT while you are distracted and swallowed up by your daily activities?

The one lesson we all can learn from this experience is to prepare yourself well if you're planning to select and implement any new system. And it may even be a good idea to invite some "naive students" to help you find the answers to the toughest questions.

Guus Krabbenborg -small
Guus Krabbenborg
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