Whether you're a user, integrator or publisher, you will already have said or heard the phrase "It's a classic need in our type of business, I don't understand why your ERP doesn't manage it as standard!”. Whether that makes you smile or wince, what lies behind it?
Norm = Standard?
If you lose all the points on your driving licence, your daily life may be significantly affected. Ask a member of Generation Z to spend €1,000 to get their licence back... and it's a safe bet that they'll see it as a pointless exercise and they'll just use the services of BlaBlaCar or Uber and in the not too distant future they'll be able to hire a driverless car... Their norm is different to yours!
Normality is whatever a particular individual is used to. On this basis, does it imply that our habits are immutable?
Obviously not! Our social, economic, political and family environment is regularly disrupted and, like it or not, we have to change our habits, practices and standards.
We change that normality whether we want to or not, by our daily actions, even the most innocuous: paying with a contactless card sounds the death knell of the cheque #NOTSOONENOUGH
When we comply with norms and standards, it doesn't mean we do so blindly. Take a step back, ask yourself if this is really useful and not simply driven by force of habit.
Conforming with a norm: real choices or habits?
During an ERP project you are going to strip back your organisation and the real practices will be revealed. Whether you're a CFO, Head of IT, a partner or a manager you’ll be surprised at the extent of force of habit.
"The cost cap policy that was passed by the board of directors for immediate implementation is still not operational in a subsidiary after 4 years...”
While you're arguing with your banker about financing your working capital needs...
your project managers wait patiently until the end of the month before sending out their invoices, when the service was provided at the beginning of the month. Why? Because they've always done it that way.
These examples are real and they're sure to make you smile. But they reveal the perverse effect of habits inherited from the past.
I suggest you try a simple method, just ask the question "Why?".
Q: Why do we issue invoices at the end of the month?
A: So we can issue a single invoice covering all the services provided.
Q: Why? Is it at the request of the client?
A: Not as far as I know.
Q: Why and when was this process defined?
A: I arrived 10 years ago, we wanted to simplify the invoicing process because it was done in Excel.
Q: From delivery of the service to payment can be as long as 60 days. Why wait so long?
A: Ten years ago the financial situation was very comfortable, it wasn't a priority at the time.
Q: Why carrying on doing it, when the company has changed?
A: Why change, in effect?
If the answer is "I don't know" or "We've always done it like that", then it's a safe bet that you've found an opportunity to update your processes and eliminate unnecessary tasks.
Business software packages versus tailor-made: use the expertise and pass on the benefit or reinvent the wheel?
Do you think that your need is unique and you're the only ones to be organised this way? Well, you should know that your colleagues are making the same speech.
Having identified, aggregated and managed these unique needs, it creates a practice.
This is even more true when deploying an ERP in a service company and the energy required won't be the same:
- In a verticalised solution (general solution pre-configured for a business sector), you have to ask all the management questions. Something tells me that you naturally reproduce your usual operational procedures (processes, validations, etc.) without necessarily questioning them.
- In a vertical solution, you'll find your practices much more naturally because it's made to manage your business. In general, the accumulation of good practice should mean that you save precious time because the publisher/integrator is in touch with its customers and has experienced several operating procedures. If you're a design office, software publishing company or a consulting firm, the analytical axes and practices will not be the same. It's experience that makes the difference.
Let's all sit down, calm down and prove our humility!
It's customary in our culture to point out what's wrong or at least what we don't like. When your thought pattern is interrupted, when your usual way of working is upset, we all show signs of resistance.
Allow yourself to take the time to analyse what could help you bring about this change. Why is it done this way? What is it really dealing with and for which expected benefits?
I assure you that the publisher could also be mistaken and have forgotten an essential feature, if they haven't carried out the research and development with end users.