Lessons from Forrest Gump for Avoiding a Failed ERP Implementation

In 1994, the lovable and surprisingly intelligent Forrest Gump gave us tidbits of life lessons in theatres around the country. The film was critically acclaimed, and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1994, with several other Oscar nominations.

As much as we learned about shrimp boating and the hardships of war, Forrest Gump continues to teach us important lessons today. Your ERP implementation can take a cue from Forrest as well.

Here are some lessons from Mr. Gump for avoiding a failed ERP implementation.

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

 It is true that throughout your ERP implementation, situations can change at any given moment. You may run across process issues you didn’t know existed and disaster can occur if you are not properly prepared.

Vice President Erik Kaas of Sage states, “Planning is absolutely necessary if you want your ERP project to succeed. You simply can’t wing ERP.” Not enough planning up front for your ERP implementation can lead to confusion due to not documenting your internal processes well enough. To get the most out of your ERP and avoid any disasters before they happen, internal processes should be documented and understood to increase business benefits and the efficiency of your ERP solution.

How can you plan for something you don’t know will happen? Simple. Your enterprise should conduct internal audits to better understand your business processes and business requirements, BEFORE choosing ERP software. It is also important to place the right people in the right positions prior to your implementation to ensure quick problem solving. Hiring a professional third party to consult during the software selection process and implementation is also an option you should seriously consider. A plan is always better than going in blind.

“Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots.”

Much like Forrest and Jenny, you will need to have the right people on your ERP implementation team. It is usually best to pull team members from all areas of your business to contribute to the implementation of your ERP system. When each part of your enterprise works together during implementation, issues can be solved quickly and the implementation process can be streamlined.

Your stakeholders should be involved throughout the entire ERP implementation process to lessen the impact of mistakes, or avoid them altogether. An investment in the right individuals from the start is an investment in a smooth, simple and driven ERP implementation.

“Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.”

You shouldn’t ignore the availability of third party support during your implementation. This type of support can help you understand holes in your implementation process, and create an easier transition at a fraction of normal vendor support costs.

A third party can be there to answer all questions you have and can consult you in ways to fix ERP mistakes during the implementation process, instead of trying to fix them later. It is important to weigh all your options when it comes to hiring support. Don’t underestimate the value of hiring a third party that can help you see the big picture, in a way that makes sense.

The Credits

We can learn a lot from Forrest and his ability to take what life gives him and deal with it. Your ERP implementation will throw different situations at you that you will need to find solutions for. For the easiest transition, it is best to:

  • Have a plan and strategy in place for your implementation.
  • Have the right people on your ERP team and involve the entire enterprise in implementation.
  • Have a third-party support system that is knowledgeable in the process to aid you in problem solving, consulting and overall implementation.

If you are about to get involved in an ERP implementation, or you are dealing with an ERP mistake that could cost you, give us a call today at 312-263-0570.