Insights-Technology

02 Jan Big Systems That Underperform – Technology Implementation

Big Systems That Underperform – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Asset Management systems or Centralized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), Health and Safety systems, and Enterprise Performance Metrics (EPM).

The common view is that to be competitive in the business world today, companies must leverage technology and embrace technological tools such as: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Asset Management systems or Centralized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), Health and Safety systems, and Enterprise Performance Metrics (EPM).

While there are a number of highly qualified vendors for these and other tools active in the marketplace, we would suggest that in a disturbing number of implementations the level at which these systems are actually used represents a small fraction of the systems capability.  When we think about the way most people use spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel, this tendency to underutilize is easy to relate to. However, when an organization has invested tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in IT systems, it seems illogical to not fully leverage them.

In our view this underutilization of systems tends to be more of an implementation problem than a problem with the tools themselves.  It has to do with the belief that:

  • Just by turning a system on, people will use it and value will be created.
  • If the systems in designed to be “tight” and “rigorous” people won’t find ways to circumvent it.
  • That all the value people see in person-to-person contact and relationships can be replaced by selecting a data point in a drop down menu.
  • That people will remember and be able to apply the training they were immersed in ahead of the system go-live date.
  • The system eliminates the need for competence and performance on the part of employees.
  • That the system eliminates the need for leadership to lead.

While all of these statements are patently false, we see organizations fall into the trap of hoping they will come true.  When newly implemented systems fail to perform as anticipated, the reaction is often to seek someone to blame, whether that is the service provider, the internal sponsor or the users.

Our advice to any organization would be to work to identify the root causes of the specific implementation error that was made via a 3rd party implementation diagnostic in order to attain the candid unfiltered feedback necessary to identify root causes. Secondly, seek to address the issues using a full toolbox of options and not just training i.e. leadership coaching, process improvement and or management system implementation, all dependent on the findings from the root cause evaluation process. This ensures then that you will be using the right tools to mitigate the issues, saving you time, money and disruption to your business.

WRITTEN BY DUNCAN KERR