Achieving ERP Success – Effective Engineering Approach

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ERP Success – Effective Engineering Approach

This article discusses the third factor required for implementation success – “effective Engineering
approach” with a weight of 17%

What do I mean by an “Engineering approach”?

Keywords include “rigorous”, “reliable”, “dependable”, “reproducible”, “get things done”, etcetera –
an approach that produces consistent high quality outcomes.

An important principle that defines an “engineering approach” is that “engineers do not design
bridges to stand up, they design bridges not to fall down!”

As a certified professional engineer I realised many years ago that my entire engineering training
was directed at teaching me how to prevent failure, not how to achieve success – the fundamental
principle is that if you have a reasonable design which does not fail you have a successful solution.

Success is a necessary consequence of the engineering approach!

This principle applies just as well to ERP projects as it applies to any other technology project.

What does this look like in practice?

Well, firstly, you need someone on the project team who understands the above principle and who
has sufficient ERP implementation experience to recognise any manifestation of the factors causing
failure very early on and who then manages those factors out of the project – this relates to the
seven factors causing ERP investment failure set out below.
Secondly, you need a project leader who understands all the factors for success listed below and
ensures that they are built into the project from the ground up!
In terms of a case study of success due to the engineering approach, consider a project in which I
was appointed as Project Leader with a strong mandate from the CEO of the client to produce “a
strategic weapon
” with consent to do all things the way I said they should be done. This included
strong executive custody in which I reported directly to the CEO on a day to day basis and in terms of
which he actively participated in every facet of the project.
This was coupled to a situation in which the CEO of the ERP Implementation firm sat on the Project
Board and attended weekly meetings and other key events and a director of the Warehouse
Management System (WMS) team did the same.
We started the project with a Pulse Measurement so I had met and built relationship with all
members of the leadership team and had a clear understanding of the strategic drivers and priorities
of the business and why the original project had failed.

The Human Resources manager sat on the Project Board and managed all the HR elements relating
to the management of change.
The CEO embraced the concept of precision configuration and we worked together to develop
exceptional classification data for every single classification field. We designed and had built
bespoke software to manage the high quality product classification data and extended that software
to build a powerful brand management and budgeting solution that exceeded anything that the
competition had available.
We ensured that we had more than sufficient hardware and network capacity and brand name
products and finally we ran a laboratory with war games with active participation by the CEO so that
when we ran live the implementation ran smoothly and without major teething problems.
The project was so successful that the CEO co-authored two conference papers with me and the CEO
of the ERP Implementer adopted a number of my techniques. The client organisation has gone from
strength to strength.

THAT is a project run based on the engineering approach!

If you find what I share of interest and desire more information please email me and I will share
more detailed information.
Next week I plan to discuss the damage that is caused by lack of precision configuration – the fourth
factor causing failure.
For more information about the services I am offering please visit

Context for Reference
For ease of reference the full list of factors is as follows:
Factors causing failure
The seven factors causing failure are:
1.           Mythology, hype and tradition – 30%
2.           Inappropriate or ineffective executive custody, governance and corporate policy – 19%
3.           Lack of effective strategic alignment and strategic solution architecture – 16%
4.           Lack of Precision Configuration – 14%
5.           Failure to address soft issues, business engagement and change impacts – 12%
6.           Lack of an Engineering Approach – 6%
7.           Technology Issues – sub-optimal or defective software, hardware, network, etc – 3%
The percentages represent the extent to which each of these factors has played a part in the failed
implementations that I have investigated.  It is important to note that the factors with the lower
weights are still very important but that if the higher weighted factors fail it does not help to get the
lower weighted factors right.
Critical factors for success
The seven critical factors for success are:
1.           Effective Executive Custody – 25%

2.           Effective Strategic definition and alignment – the Essence of the business – 22%
3.           Effective engineering solution design and implementation approach – 17%
4.           Effective Precision Configuration – 16%
5.           Effective Business Simulation Laboratory operation (war games) – 12%
6.           Effective business integration, training, change facilitation, process specification – 6%
7.           Reliable technology – 2%
From consideration of the above it will be apparent that the real issue is not the ERP product, all the
mainstream products are capable of delivering a quality outcome, it is the quality of the
implementation and therefore the capabilities of the implementer that are critical.
In the weeks ahead I plan to continue to share the headlines of my thoughts on each of the above
and the lessons that I have learned in terms of how to implement ERP and other business system
projects in a manner that ensures a successful outcome.
My offering
I offer technology agnostic services in terms of:
a. Instruction and training in how to apply these methods. 
b. Troubleshooting projects that are in difficulty and providing guidance to turn them around.
c. Strategic project leadership services achieving a high level of executive engagement and delivering
high quality business relevant outcomes.
d. Guidance on “precision configuration” – a very rigorous approach to the detailed content of
master data and other validation lists and other elements of the configuration. This was a major
factor in the above success, I will discuss this in more detail in due course.
e. Comprehensive robust, tender based ERP and other major systems procurement.

If you would like further information please reply to this email and we can get on Zoom to discuss.
As stated previously I am very willing to pay a finders / referral fee for any work referred my way
or to sub-contract where this is applicable.
I look forward to being of assistance to you or to any referral that you can make.