Achieving ERP Success – Factors for Success – 02 Effective Strategic Alignment

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Factors Causing ERP Failure – Ineffective Executive Custody

I would like to discuss the second factor required for implementation success – “effective strategic
definition and alignment – the essence of the business” with a weight of 22%
Effective Strategic Alignment – a Practical Example
I was once called in by the Executive Chairman and CEO of a freight forwarding and clearing
company. They were in the process of implementing a supposedly “best of breed” global ERP
product geared to their industry.

The project was a year behind schedule, they had retrenched a whole lot of staff against expected
benefits that did not materialize, the staff were alienated and hostile.

There were constant missed deadlines and sub-standard deliverables and the relationship with the
International service provider and implementer was at breaking point.

I undertook a standard two day “Pulse Measurement” interviewing each of the executive team face
to face, one on one for an hour. One of my key questions in such an intervention is “What is the
essence of your business and HOW does it thrive? – what differentiates your business? why is it
As always, some of the directors battled to answer that question but, eventually, after some coaxing
to think outside the box they all reached one conclusion “we have a service promise that if we cause
a customer to miss a time critical deadline we will make good their loss, our target market is the
10% of the market which deals with time critical deliveries.”

I then interviewed the managing director of the global software company that had provided the
software and was leading the implementation. He proudly told me that his company was seeking to
be the dominant provider in the freight forwarding and clearing industry worldwide and were
succeeding. As far as he was concerned my client was difficult and obstructive and this gentleman
really could not understand what their issue was.

It was immediately apparent to me what the problem was – this software company was focussed on
the 90% of the industry where time was not of the essence! They did not understand the
requirements and service levels of the 10% of customer with time critical requirements.
At the end of the day I sat with the Executive Chairman and reported my conclusion. He
immediately became animated and exclaimed “of course, the lights have just gone on, that is exactly
the problem!”
The next day he cancelled the contract — both parties were relieved.
I then facilitated the procurement of a new system working in close partnership with the Executive

We interviewed three local contenders to supply the required software.
The third software vendor presented their product and closed by saying “we understand the need for
exceptional service in this industry, in fact, we are so committed to supporting our customers that IF

our software causes you to miss a deadline for a customer we will make good your loss without
My client and I looked at one another, we had a perfect fit, the buying decision was made at once
and the system went in without difficulty – such is the importance of strategic alignment.
If you find what I share of interest and desire more information please email me and I will share
more detailed information.