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ERP: A necessary risk

Zafar Anjum | Oct. 18, 2012
The need for ERP is no longer in doubt and is accepted as the “backbone” of any company. But the implementation of such systems still poses considerable risk, says Voon Ngee Yiew, managing director of ABeam Singapore.

Do you work with any particular vendors or do you advise companies based on their requirements and recommend vendors? How does it work?

ABeam Singapore specialises in SAP implementation, offering end-to-end services in all activities relating to SAP including Global Rollouts, Application Management Outsourcing, Offshore Development, Project Management Office, etc.

For hardware, networking and other requirements, ABeam can assist the client to search for suitable partners after taking into consideration the client's requirements.

What major problems do companies face while implementing ERP projects? What can go wrong in such implementations?

As pointed out above, ERP is now very common across all industries and company sizes. And this directly translates to too many companies offering ERP related services, giving the CIOs many options to choose from. However, considering the number of projects that were either cancelled mid-way or not fully utilised after live, choosing the right implementation partners remain one of the more critical decisions not to be taken lightly. 

It is now more important than ever to choose implementation partners that can provide the right team for the job. Projects are getting shorter and are done with fewer consultants. Only with seasoned and highly experienced consultants, can the companies hope to gain new solutions and innovative ways to move forward rather than just translating the old ways into another platform. This is especially so in countries where the IT and business organisations are expert level users of the system. They will require consultants who can provide them with new and innovative ways to deal with their future challenges.

Another common mistake is to treat ERP implementations as just another IT or technical project whereas it could not have been more the opposite. The result of doing this is to end up with a system that just basically automates what was manual before and missing out on all the benefits resulting from advances both in terms of technology as well as operational excellence. Companies should take full advantage of using their ERP implementation projects to optimise their business processes, using the new tools to fully understand their data and create new business strategies. 

Additionally, companies implementing ERP systems should consciously put their best people on the job rather than just the next available person. You want your best people to help design the systems and processes that the company will be using and depending upon to drive your core businesses for the next 10 years. Furthermore, these personnel will become critical members of your team after the implementation as they now possess detailed knowledge of the business processes and inner workings of all facets of the business.

It also goes without saying that the 'active' support and involvement of the top management, including the CEO, is of paramount importance to the success of such a project that permeates across most departments in a company. They help to set the direction, negotiate compromises and actively champion the ERP cause to the entire company. This helps tremendously in focusing the effort and improving the level of collaboration among the different departments towards a common goal.


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