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Defense enterprise resource planning transformation

Six success factors for defense organizations as outlined by Vice Admiral Keith W. Lippert, United States Navy (Retired)


Vice Adm. Keith W. Lippert USN*(Retired) shares his view on success factors for enterprise resource planning (ERP)-led defense transformations. He draws insights from a career that comprises more than 40 years in military supply chain and logistics, including five years as the Director of the United States Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

“Opportunities are available today—technology, digital and advanced analytics—that present capabilities of which I could only have dreamed as a junior officer in the United States Navy.”

Success Factors

1 - Leadership support

If you are planning a large-scale transformation, it has to generate passion and commitment from the top. Senior management will need to communicate around this project constantly and consistently across the workforce, so leaders need to be involved and dedicated to the effort.

2 - Change management

The biggest challenge is people. You can bring in an ERP solution, plug it in and make it work, but it is the change management portion that is the hardest. Fortunately, there are techniques available from a training perspective that are there to help people embrace and understand change.

3 - Business case and accountability

Developing a business case is a critical step. Establish the anticipated costs, the resultant savings and the payback for the implementation. Plus it’s important to assign accountability for each category of anticipated saving to a senior member of the leadership team.

4 - Governance

Within the governance board, a single point of responsibility must be created to avoid decision making (or lack of decision making) by committee. The governance board should include members of the leadership team accountable for implementation and/or savings and a member from each partner who is assisting the implementation.

5 - Partnership Model

It is important to identify the right team, both internal resources and external suppliers, and work together as a team. Drawing on each other’s strength will bring thee workforces together and have a multiplier effect on the outcome.

6 - Incremental rollouts

Start small, show it can work and then expand it. Identify your informal transformation leaders—not the ones you see in the management chart but the ones that people go to constantly because of their professionalism and what they have achieved. If you can get them on board first, the rest of the organization will follow much more easily.


Keith W. Lippert 

Vice Admiral United States Navy (Retired)

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