The business case for change – it’s not set and forget
In our previous piece about unlocking the true potential of your ERP renewal, we reflected on the importance of keeping people at the centre of your approach to fully release investment and justify the efforts and disruption that such a transformative endeavour places on an organisation. It’s often published that the largest part of return on investment for ERP installation is people dependent. Moreover, in our experience, we see that the largest challenges to overcome within these programs are people related. It stands to reason therefore that if the project focus is on overcoming the impacts to people and operations, as well as the software implementation, business disruption will be minimised and have a faster and easier pathway to benefit realisation.
In this article we will discuss the importance of keeping the business case tuned, business benefit realisation plans front and centre across the Program lifecycle and key business leaders governing and supporting the change.
Too often we see business cases, for what in many situations will be the largest investment and change effort in an organisation’s history, gather dust. The effort in building and seeking approval for business cases is written off as soon as the Program gets away from the dock. When in fact keeping the business case refreshed as a working document for Program leadership and governance forums, ensures that eyes are kept on the prize of unlocking benefits early, and sustaining them.
Keep evolving to meet the needs of the business
We’re again witnessing increased activity in the market as businesses seek to rationalise, harmonise, and standardise; to drive necessary efficiencies on the back of the Covid-19 downturn and supply chain disruption. In turn, systems renewals and necessitated cloud-based upgrades are enabling organisations to build better integrated processes and operating model, focus on their customers and be more agile in data-driven decision making.
There’s one important factor to note however, and that’s staying true to the business case. As mentioned, the business case can and should evolve, given these multi-year transformation programs are rarely linear. Business requirements and scope changes, technology advancements and vendor product offerings move quickly, and organisational constraints (often budgetary) will always sneak up on such large transformation initiatives, changing priority and deployment sequencing.
Have active and visible sponsorship from leadership
The business case will guide and justify the prioritisation of cost, over the life of the program, as well as shape and quantify the largest, quickest and/or most sustainable financial and non-financial benefits, and consequently the ROI you get. Importantly, it guides the change management effort as well. Change not only has the role of delivering the people and operational uplift of the organisation during the life of the Program but also should be charged with facilitating benefit realisation, both during and post program. What is crucial to change management teams succeeding in this effort is active and visible sponsorship of the Program. Senior executives that sponsor the Program can and should assist in assessment and prioritisation of benefits realisation. Building the step change release of benefits and importantly, holding benefit owners to account for their role, can only be done by the business, for the business if it is to have sustaining credibility. This, not surprisingly, needs to be genuine advocacy and leadership, to be effective.
Inject targeted expertise where it is needed
Implementing an ERP system is a significant business change and by design should impact most business processes and most transacting roles. This in turn, has inevitable implications for organisational culture. Effective Change resources can guide the business through the changes to business process, job roles and responsibilities, technology, data management and operating model all the while driving a positive enterprise cultural trajectory.
In our experience of delivering change services and capability uplift for many ERP programs, there are two critical success factors;
- matching the expertise and specific industry experience of the change resources to the industry the client operates within and secondly,
- helping to drive true sponsorship and leadership alignment and ownership of the program outcomes and benefit realisation.
On the later, we have always found it beneficial to invest upfront in senior leader buy-in of the business case and benefit planning processes. Ultimately, an ERP delivered by the business, for the business is the one that will be most sustainable across the organisation; meaning adoption, utilisation and compliance embeds quickly and holds. Time to benefit also improves significantly with robust change management efforts to align organisational leadership.
A systematic approach
Blue Seed Consulting follows a proven repeatable process when we partner with businesses undertaking digital or business transformation, ensuring that business considerations such as specific business requirements are understood, MoSCoW prioritised, mapped to business process hierarchies, and mapped to benefits. We assess pain points and bottlenecks through journey maps within the supply chain or internal operating model, ensuring benefits map back to pain point resolution and we assess where the control points are, where they fail and where they need to be strengthened through system and process enhancement.
We then work with the organisation to understand the business benefit profiles, ensuring the benefit is calculated and benchmarked with rigour and clearly understood within the functional department that will own its realisation, aggregate benefits to value drivers, align value drivers to the strategic objectives of the business and importantly, ensure the business has nominated a benefit owner with the appropriate seniority to realise the benefit over the prescribed time horizon.
Well formulated business benefit profiles are essential to fulfilment of the business case and unlocking the full potential of your ERP investment. That’s stating the obvious of course, but in practice it’s a tough journey that requires persistence and effort. Ultimately, it’s a change management journey that must run alongside the traditional design, build, test, deploy and support journey of the new systems and processes being deployed, and it’s crucial to anchor to the business case and be working on benefit realisation plans early in the program lifecycle to sustain the change, post program. This should be undertaken with a structured business case governance process that includes regular business-led stage gating and health checks both during and post program.
Go to blueseedconsulting.com to learn more about how we can support you ERP journey and build the capability your business needs to drive the change and unlock the potential of your investment.
- Change Management for ERP How to fully realise the potential of your ERP system
- The ROI of Change – how to deliver lasting value for your people, culture and strategic success The True ROI of Change Management.
About Blue Seed Consulting
Blue Seed is an organisational change consultancy that focuses on the people side of change. We deliver exceptional and lasting outcomes for emerging, disrupted and transforming companies.
Our consultants are experienced multi-industry ERP deployment specialists and know how to manage a network of people, technology, data, and resources efficiently and economically, to get results. ERPs are more than a platform implementation; they require driving end-to-end, whole-of-organisation, behavioural change, building new ways of work, business disciplines, rules, and processes.
We hit the ground running. We know the fast-paced and high energy rhythm of ERP implementations. We think outside the box because we know ERPs have tentacles throughout your organisation and beyond. We strategically manage up and downstream relationships for mutual benefit and expectations. Explore our service offering here