Editors' Note - This post originally ran back in July 2008, an update to the story is below
Here is Reason 31 of Steve's reasons why the ERP vendors will eventually crumble. My shop is now about 9 months in to another 'major' upgrade of the ERP system. Before it is all over, we are looking at a full year of essentially no progress on any meaningful, strategic, or high employee or candidate satisfaction project.
No online total comp statements, no automated competency management, performance reviews, or succession planning. No new processes rolled out to employee or manager self-service. No, pretty much a full year of test upgrades, patches, bugs, regression testing, more bugs, five day outage to production, more bugs, support, did I already say more bugs? And we went through pretty much the same scenario in 2003.
So 1 out of every 5 years, all progress stops, the organization retrenches, and all important and interesting work is 'frozen'. In theory we get lots from these upgrades, compliance fixes, latest in technology, new features, etc. And most of that, I admit, is true. But at what cost? One out of every five years essentially wasted.
What does this have to do with the Milwaukee Brewers? Well, for a team like the Brewers, showing slow and steady progress for four years, maybe even making a playoff appearance is a notable achievement. In year 5, if they have to regroup, trade off a few players they can't afford, and load back up on young prospects, that is really ok with them, and most likely their fans (customers/employees). After year 5, the team (hopefully) starts the slow climb backup to contender status. Maybe they make another run at the top, before the cycle inevitably repeats.
But what about that plan for the Yankees or lately, the Red Sox? They would not be content or satisfied with an every fifth year halt to progress, or worse a regression back to square one. The fans get restless, the media relentless, and team ownership would not stand for it. Managers, executives, or players responsible for the problems would be sacked or traded. Those teams simply will not accept a 'cycle' like lesser teams like the Brewers would.
How does your organization see itself? Do you really want to be the Milwaukee Brewers? Or do you want to be the Yankees? Can you afford to take every fifth year as a 'no-progress, just keep running the Payroll' year? Will your staff accept that? How about your owners, executives and customers?
Is it time to get off the ERP upgrade treadmill?
Update - Feb. 2009 - A full 16 months since the major upgrade started, and my organization is still not fully recovered. We are still logging new bugs every week, sometimes several a week. Basic functionality that worked fine for years on the prior release, still fails to work consistently or reliably. No significant new development or introduction of new features or functions have occurred, save only for those that 'Had' to be done, as the new release of the ERP system changed quite a few processes that frankly, did not need changing. So sure, my organization is positioned for the next several years, but was the cost of a year and a half of time, money and lost opportunities worth it?
Think about this before you jump in the pool with ERP, I urge you.