How long will it take?

I just finished a book about developing leadership authored by John C. Maxwell. Putting a lot of effort into my personal growth and challenging my status quo continuously it’s been a difficult read as every chapter was more thought provoking then the previous one.

One question struck me hard as it can also be related to a business system implementation.

‘How long does it take?’

Any such endeavor requires a timeline. I get that! There are milestones to achieve, budgets to meet and resources to plan. All very well, but how long does it really take?

Call it #digitization of your business or implementing a new #ERP solution there is a wide range of market considerations, functionalities, connections, interfaces to be covered. On top of that your organization will consider reworking business processes, aligning working culture with the overall vision, retiring outdated processes and adopting to new technologies. All that takes time and management wants to know when it will be completed.

In my opinion the more important question becomes “How far can we go?”

Thinking about the previous mentioned timeline I believe there is no definite end date. Setting an end date is defining the time you stop evolving. It becomes the end of your growth and your solution becomes outdated with the day you go-live. I can see many argue this statement but think about it this way.

A study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40% of today’s Fortune 500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years. It is no surprise as 90% of Fortune 500 companies vanished since 1955, but the latest estimate is in 10 years, a fast decade away.

 

Although there are many factors why a company vanishes, it also shows that in an ever faster developing market a company needs to stay ahead of the market and certainly ahead of existing or new emerging competition. Any business system is a working tool for the company and its employees. Hence it must evolve at the same pace as the company does. At this point I would even argue that the selection of any business system must support you finding the required market advantage.

Now, this is certainly no call for endless and – most often senseless – modifications or bolting X number of various systems together! Simplicity is the key here! The selected solution must be flexible, extendable and adoptable, supported by an overall investment promise of the software solution provider to bring new best of bread developments onto the market in a continuous pace. Back this with the right choice of implementation partner and you are on the road to success.

So, when is a business system project finished? For me personally? Never! 6, 12, 18 month or later from the decision to implement a new solution there will be a go-live date. A point in time you make the call that the foundation is ready, your users bought into the new ecosystem and pride themselves having taken ownership. You have mastered the change and the culture in your organization is on its way aligning to the new way of working ahead.

But, don’t fool yourself. This is not the end. Your project team might get dissolved, you overcame initial go-live issues but now you need to keep the pace. Look at your original vision when you started the project. Compare it to your company’s vision. Are you still aligned? Has the market changed? Where is the competition? Are there any new trends emerging? Have your customers changed? Where are they in their journey? How can you help them doing a better job? How can keep ahead of the market and lead ahead of your competition?

 

So, ‘How far can you take it?’

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