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The importance of knowing what you want to achieve when it comes to ERP and Business Applications

Mike Stanbridge
16 Jun, 2023

There are various management and self-improvement models that focus on ‘Why’, and for very good reason (my favourite is Simon Sinek’s golden circle). Having a clear view of ‘Why’ you are doing something allows you to critique and evaluate ‘What’ you are doing and ‘How’ you are doing it.

Aligning business processes to your company’s ‘Why’ is crucial to meeting your objective and making sure that the clichéd ‘People, Process, Technology’ mantra, all point in that direction.

Your ‘Why’ is your company’s overall objective, your mission statement if you like, the reason you exist and the reason that people want to work with you. It is achieved through your company strategy and the components of your business beneath that.

Communicating the ‘Why’ of your business to your employees and allowing them to fully understand and buy in to it, as well as buying in to the company’s strategy of how to achieve it, is crucial to the successful definition and delivery of any change initiative.

The pyramid of success

I have been implementing ERP and business applications for more than 20 years in a variety of industries, across the world. I’ve worked on both sides of the fence, as a consultant and as a customer. I have seen the challenges associated with delivering change into a business firsthand.

For me, the most significant and influential thing that effects the successful outcome of a project is the clear communication of why we’re doing something. Its objectives. Having that clarity and aligning everyone to it smooths the path for every other decision. It allows changes to be assessed and reduces general project noise.

Getting your ‘Why’ right and aligning your business strategy to it is the job of your executive team. As is communicating it to the wider company. Once that strategy is clear, there is a cascade through the management levels of a company, defining processes, roles and responsibilities, KPI’s and metrics, all the way through to defining which tools to use, where and how.

The Pyramid of Success

Managing this pyramid of success is crucial to achieving business objectives.

Managing the pyramid of success

Implementing change using this methodology drives success. It ensures alignment. It means that every step in the process can be tracked back to a defined benefit or objective.
  • 1

    Business Strategy

    This is the north star, the direction of travel, the overall objective. Clearly explained, this drives all decisions. It can be described as ‘Where to play [which markets] and How to Win [offerings, services, methods]’.

  • 2

    Target Operating Model – the ‘What’

    Your delivery mechanism, the structure of your business, and how it will be organised to achieve the strategy. KPI’s and metrics fit in here; the high level processes; the way you engage with your customers and suppliers. It’s very well described in a business model canvas and can usually be defined/derived quite quickly. Depending on the complexity, the adoption of it (emotionally and practically) may take longer and may require multiple phases, managed by a skilled team of change professionals.

  • 3

    Departmental Roles and Boundaries

    This is your management structure; the reporting lines; the responsibility of departments, managers and individuals. Often including motivational factors (KPI’s, incentives, etc.) as well as forming the basis for current and future job descriptions.

  • 4

    Software Roles and Boundaries

    These are the tools to do the job. They are influenced by all of the steps above but shouldn’t be the driver behind a business. Obviously there are ‘standard’ ways of doing things, but every business is unique in some way, so making sure that the roles and boundaries of your tools (including factory machines, delivery vehicles, etc.) allow them to be used efficiently, with boundaries and gaps/limitations clearly understood.

  • 5


    Once boundaries of the tools are clear, processes can drive the needed integration of tools and components. These need to be pragmatically assessed against the business strategy, operating model and subsequent components to make sure that they are achieving the objectives and benefits.

  • 6

    To Be Processes

    Finally – this is the ‘How’; exactly how will people do their job. Which buttons will they push, levers will they pull and where will they get their information? These are usually communicated in a process diagram and underpinned with process descriptions and Standard/Mandatory Operating Procedures.

Next Steps

Having an easy to explain objective or “North Star” is key. The next step is how your business aligns to that North Star, how you communicate your vision and how you can align your team to achieve it. Systems should be a significant part of the conversation, as they have the potential to shortcut the evolution of your business. Given HSO’s experience in successfully implementing business change we would love to have a conversation with you to help you achieve your goals.

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