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Contemplating a global ERP solution? Here’s what you need to get right

Discover the seven key success factors any company considering a global ERP solution should be aware of in advance.

Overview

To fully capitalize on the promise of global markets, businesses need a technical infrastructure with capabilities far exceeding those of the traditional patchwork of regional or local ERPs.

Increasingly, corporations are turning to a single, global ERP solution. We’ve identified seven key success factors to make that happen.

By carefully considering these factors, you can avoid many of the pitfalls that frequently sabotage global rollouts, while keeping projects on schedule and within budget.

Ultimately, and ideally, you’ll wind up with a technology platform that serves as a springboard to growth and high performance.

You can avoid many of the pitfalls that frequently sabotage global rollouts, and keep projects on time and within budget.

Background

As commonly defined, ERP software solutions integrate, and sometimes automate, all facets of an operation, including product planning, manufacturing, sales, marketing and supply chains.

As businesses expand around the world, many are doing so with the help of a single ERP solution.

This reflects a growing recognition of the insufficiencies of existing, fragmented ERP systems, which were typically built to serve the needs of specific regions or countries.

​By contrast, a single ERP solution can provide a more accurate and consistent understanding of a business at any given time, anywhere in the world.

​A single ERP solution is also less costly to support and maintain, and can help managers identify specific actions to improve operational performance.

Analysis

The benefits of a global ERP solution are compelling. But it’s paramount to recognize a global rollout is a massive and complex undertaking—far more so than any previous regional or country-focused deployment.

A number of key challenges and risks must be addressed. For one, how well the company profile is understood strongly influences the risk level of the rollout and its prospects for success.

A globally homogenous and highly-centralized corporation likely will have the existing framework and organizational mindset to quickly gain agreement on critical aspects.

But a diverse firm with an autonomous management structure faces greater challenges implementing the standardized processes and governance a global ERP solution requires. That suggests a higher failure risk.

Company leaders also must define a compelling business case. This should be measurable throughout the journey, and therefore include scenarios that reflect possible changes in the industry landscape.

Such a rollout involves a vast array of moving parts—before, during and after everything “goes live.” So, it’s critical to stage and execute the implementation in a way that strikes the right balance between cost and time of deployment, and the ultimate effectiveness of the system.

Last but not least, businesses must recognize the “global” aspect in all of this. This includes vast differences in culture and languages and in the related activities, such as training and support prior to and after implementation.

Recommendations

We strongly recommend considering seven key factors vital to the success of any global ERP implementation:

  • Create a vision and operating model

  • Define the scope of the project

  • Define the content of the global template and which type of template the company will use

  • Define the overall project governance and how it evolves over time

  • Determine how to roll out the global template to the business

  • Organize the global rollout delivery team

  • Create the overall deployment plan and schedule

Two additional considerations—change management and data management—are worth noting, because both can have a major impact on success or failure.

These essentially cut across the entire rollout process, and must also be managed effectively to enable a smooth implementation.

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