Throughout the past year, I have helped my clients navigate the ever-complicated market of cloud-based ERP systems. The truth is, the vendor evaluation and selection process can be rewarding and, at the same time, challenging and complicated. If you’ve been following my blogs, you know that I recently got married. And surprisingly, the lessons I’ve learned on these projects have also helped me adjust to newly married life. Here are five nuggets of wisdom that I have taken to heart:
1. We may not always be on the same page: Just because we’re married doesn't mean we’ll agree on everything. I have worked with evaluation teams that are on board with the benefits of a unified ERP strategy, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay in sync when recommending a solution. I tell my clients to remain patient as team members communicate their reasoning for selecting a vendor. I’ve also heard feedback from my clients that having a neutral third party involved (me) helps to mediate critical discussions and arrive at a product that will best meet their objectives.
2. The honeymoon phase is real: My husband and I will be celebrating four months of marriage at the end of the month. While still over the moon about our new life together, the tans from our epic Thailand vacation have faded and we are officially re-acclimated to the realities of everyday life. As a result, we have committed to weekly date nights to celebrate milestones and talk through concerns. Similarly, the initial excitement of selecting a new ERP system can last 2-3 months. However, I’ve had clients that needed more time due to the large number of participants involved and high level of consensus required to finalize a decision. After a few months, I can see fatigue set in with my clients as other priorities arise that compete for time and resources. Along the same line of my weekly date nights, my clients find that scheduling a regular cadence with executive sponsors helps keep them apprised of project successes or risks.
3. The best things about marriage aren’t things: As much as I adore every gift we received from our carefully curated wedding registry, having the constant support our family and friends remains one of the greatest joys of our relationship. Similarly, what often differentiates one ERP solution from another is less about “things” or concrete functionality and more about the intangibles associated with working with that particular vendor. What is their reputation? Do they have a corporate culture that compliments or conflicts with yours? I stress to my clients to not overlook criteria such as vendor relationship and approach to customer service and support.
4. Things will change, and that’s OK: By the time we got married, we had already started integrating our lives together. To a certain degree our day-to-day routines didn’t change, but being legally tied to someone and sharing finances (for life!) is a big change. I know my husband and I will face all kinds of change, but I am confident that if we face it together, then we will always be successful. I was working with a client that was very close to selecting a cloud-based ERP system when the CFO unexpectedly left the company. This type of change could have been detrimental to the project. But I helped my clients work together to find a solution and in the end they got their new ERP…and a new CFO.
5. Marriage doesn’t solve anything: Marriage has enriched my life in many ways but I realize it’s not the ultimate road to happiness. Similarly, a cloud-based ERP system can be a blessing, but there are still some things it will never be able to do-- like resolve existing operational challenges out of the box. Companies who fail to redesign current processes will miss out on the advantages of a new system. Modern technology incorporates leading industry practices and the pay back for matching processes to the application is the ability to accomplish bigger, better things.
No one said marriage or selecting a new ERP system would be easy. They are actually tough in ways that no one talks about. Both will present unexpected challenges but picking the right partner can provide years of learning and building a strong foundation for future growth.