Sorry to say ERP Project goals are many times only given the ”we must have some” treatment meaning they are not considered as important as they actually are for the success of an ERP project. So how do you know they are any good?
Ask an executive if the strategic goals of the company are important and you will not find one that would say they are not crucial. It is the guiding star to which the CEO is steering the ship. Equally important for the steering and execution of an ERP project are the project goals assigned to it. Perhaps this is all a given but we say it anyway; project goals guide expectations of what gets delivered and what gets delivered must meet expectations. Otherwise the quality of the delivery is bad. So how can the project team know what to delivery if they have bad project goals?
1.Good goals are SMART
To help the project team get the job done the project owner needs to ensure that the goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Tangible. In short, SMART. If the team and the project owner are working towards goals that cannot be evaluated, how do they know if they are doing the right thing? They don’t.
So please make an effort to be Specific, being vague will impacting the performance of the project negatively. Subjective goals such as “good user interface” or “fast response times” should be avoided at all cost. Qualify what “good” and “fast” means so it can be Measured. A very good example of a project goal from one of our implementations is “Design and implement 1 set of KPIs and reports for all companies”. Another one; “implement a third-party smartphone app for material ordering, for all service technicians, integrated with the project module in the ERP system”. These are quite black and white, of course the first one does not say anything about how many KPIs and reports, of course that goal could be more Specific in order to become more Realistic and Achievable. But both of the goals are quite Tangible.
2.Strategic alignment is key in devising goals
For the purpose of making sense to the organization the ERP project goals must align with the business goals that the business case for the ERP replacement is built on. If you find you have project goals that have materialized in some mysterious manner you need to question them and if they have no bearing in the business goals, question whether they should be thrown out.
After you have verified alignment between Business goals for the project with the Project goals themselves you still have one step to go but that step is oh so important! What if you find out you have Business goals for the ERP project that cannot be connected back to the strategy for the company? What do you think the CEO will think about a project that does not promote his or hers strategy for the company, most likely something not fit for print.
What do we mean by alignment between goals, here is an example; a client of us wanted to expand their business from Denmark into Sweden but could not do so on the current ERP so one of their Business goals for their new ERP was “to establish a legal entity in Sweden building on our new common ERP platform". That goal was outside the mandate of the ERP project so to align the Business goal the project was given the goal “To procure and setup an ERP system that can handle multi-currency setup and comply with legal requirements in Germany”. That is full alignment between company strategy down to ERP project goals. And it was SMART as well.
3.ERP Project goals are limited in numbers
Usually when setting goals, any kind of goals, a limitation of 3-5 goals are considered best practice. If you use more it becomes complex for the ones working towards the goals to prioritize which ones to focus on. Because you cannot focus your efforts simultaneously on let’s say, 10 goals. There is also sign of dedication and conviction to select only a few goals. So keep the list short.
4.An ERP Project is like a heart transplant so you will not run on full capacity after
You may also have goals for how to carry out the ERP replacement. We have found that executives that have done ERP projects before are typically much more adapt at preparing their organization for what is to come for two reasons; a) they know they will survive after some months of frustration and struggle and b) they know that just keeping their employees engaged before and making them understand that a lot will be new and unfamiliar means a whole lot for how fast the organization transitions into the new system and the changed ways of working. So have Realistic expectations for how smooth the transition will be and make sure you have a lot of support in place to help employees out.
In summary, if you take the above advice into account, and make use of the project goals as the guiding star for the project, you will have helped your project along. Of course, there are many other aspects concerning how you anchor the goals in the organization and so on but that is a subject for another blogpost later on. Using ERP & Friends methodology you can be certain these aspects will never be overlooked!