Many companies are anxious to take a new ERP system into use. Capespan is certainly not afraid to jump in and invest in a new system. This Belgian company has invested in a new system that has been implemented in seven countries already. Impossible? Tom Quets, CIO of Capespan told participants at the recent EU Fresh Info Forum about their road to success.
New technology is hitting society and the sector like a tsunami. The theme of the forum was not 'Tsunami of Technology' for no reason. “This theme made me think of this painting,” Tom began. He was referring to an old painting created by the Japanese artist, Hokusai. It depicts an enormous wave. In the background, the contours of Mount Fuji are visible. Between the raging waves, a few boats are floating. On these are fishermen, trying to cope with the waves. "I would like to use this as a metaphor for the situation in which we find ourselves. Just like those fishermen, we are facing an enormous challenge."
Only a minority of projects succeed
But what is the real challenge? Tom gives three options: Is it the wave, symbolizing the complex circumstances and rapid changes? Is it the boat, symbolic of technology and outfits we have at our disposal? Or is it the fishermen, that represent organizations and its people?
When one takes a look at the implementation of ERP systems' figures, it is not very encouraging. The Standish Group did a study into, among other things, the implementation of software. This independent international IT research advisory firm concluded that only 23% of software implementations succeed in one go. In 58% of the cases, there are challenges. These challenges include exceeding the budget or time frame. In 19% of the cases, the projects fail. Tom points out that these figures have hardly changed over the years. There are countless causes, such as unrealistic expectations, for these failed implementations.
The boat and the fishermen
“The boat and the fishermen have to be aligned,” continues Tom. “The fishermen must be ready to launch the boat at the highest point of the wave." He points out the importance of making a good selection. People must gather a lot of information about the possibilities. It is also important that a company has a clear vision and that its people in the highest positions have ICT know-how. "You must involve the staff with this and manage the changes. This cannot happen from an ivory tower."
Perhaps the most important aspect is the people, emphasizes Tom. Both the team that needs to execute the project, as well as the remaining employees, must be involved. "Make sure you get your staff on board," he concludes. “Train the managers and personnel and be honest, open, and transparent about the project.”