To be successful, many in the Five Eyes community have come to recognize that an ERP implementation has to be about more than the technology selected. It must be about the people who will be using the technology in the future – from internal staff and units in the field, to contractors and vendors. Every stakeholder will have a different perspective on the solution and require different levels of training to make sure they can use the technology effectively to do their job well or to engage appropriately with the defense organization.
People are often the reason transformation projects fail to meet their objectives. If stakeholders don’t buy-in to a solution, they will cling to old ways of doing things. This can create significant challenges for defense organizations who want to create a single source of information to underpin organizational decision making. If information continues to flow through older processes, there is a risk of ongoing information and data gaps, not to mention increased costs associated with systems running in parallel (e.g. license fees, support).
At the same time, people can be an ERP implementation’s greatest asset – starting right from opportunity definition. “We got a bunch of people involved in workshopping the concept, which resulted in us agreeing that we had quite a good opportunity to rationalize and consolidate several business processes for finance, logistics, engineering and maintenance,” says Mohan Aiyaswami, Chief Technology Officer of the Australia Department of Defence.
By involving stakeholders early and often in the change, a defense organization can set itself on a path of success by having their own people become champions of the solution. When people have the opportunity to provide input on the technology and new processes, are involved in testing, and are trained appropriately – they are more likely to support the change to the fullest extent possible. This is because they recognize how the change can help them do their jobs better.
According to the Chief Information Officer of the US Department of Defense, Terry Halvorsen, the organization never used to understand the full power of its data. Now, Halvorsen takes a bottom-up approach in gaining clarity around future pathways for ERP – continually going back to the users of the data to understand what capabilities the systems need to bring. “The people that use the data have the greatest knowledge. [You] need to be able to harness that knowledge to innovate,” Halvorsen says.
Halvorsen recognizes that a top-down view is also important when it comes to gaining the leadership required to support a successful implementation. On the leadership side, he says “[You need to] keep walking in with examples of how data can save money or improve your mission.” Showing how a solution will make a real impact on the success of missions or the bottom line can make a big difference when it comes to bringing the leadership of a defense organization on board.
Even after a solution has been implemented, stakeholder engagement is critical to ensure there is an environment of continuous improvement and that any updates to the solution continue to meet user needs. “In November 2012, the UK Ministry of Defense tapped into the UK Government’s G-Cloud programme and rolled out an online suggestion box application for its staff through the G-Cloud framework,” explains [ADD NAME AND TITLE]. This allowed people from both the MoD and the armed forces to make suggestions on how to improve the organization’s day-to-day activities.”
When looking to implement an ERP solution, defense organizations should take time to identify the stakeholder groups who would be affected by the transformation and create a plan to discuss options, challenges and potential solutions with them. By including the business users early on in the solution identification process, defense organizations will be well positioned to gain their buy-in and support for the resulting implementation.