The Importance of Setting Guiding Principles at the Beginning of an ERP Implementation

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A large part of my job is to engage new prospects in discussions about their new ERP systems and it always strikes me as a bit odd that my discussions typically start off with prospects listing off features and functions.  Perhaps this is just an easy place to start but I always feel that it is important to move the discussions up a level to ensure that we consider Guiding Principles in our discussions about any ERP implementation to avoid winding up being on Panorama’s ERP Expert Witness Testimony.

Guiding Principles are general rules of engagement and help to shape scope.  They help consultants to architect the solution with the guidelines in mind so that the solutions are not over architected, too simplistic, or even not used at all.  In addition, the Guiding Principles help define areas of the project where our resources may be more or less engaged, or where the client will take ownership and therefore provide a framework to approach scope, budget, and effort during an ERP implementation.

Guiding Principles also move the initial discussion beyond the typical software sales cycle and change the focus and motivation from selling software to that of trying to successfully implement the software your client has selected.  There is a profound difference between these two approaches to selling ERP solutions – the main difference being that by adding Guiding Principles to the discussion and baking it into part of the engagement, the behavior of sales people tends to be driven by metrics such as successful implementations, higher customer satisfaction, and higher user adoption rather than numbers of units sold.

It can be difficult to get a customer to buy into discussing guiding principles especially when they are solely focused on price and/or want to manage their own process however I find that most clients and prospects are open to the discussion and more often than not feel that the process brings alignment and understanding about the approach and how the engagement will take shape.   ERP implementations that have a set of Guiding Principles outlined to use as a framework for the engagement are one of the keys to successfully implementing ERP solutions and enabling valuable long term partnerships.

Some guiding principles that we have worked to develop with our clients that have proved successful are:

  • The ERP Solution shall be implemented to enable automation to support business growth by leveraging technology and limit the hiring of additional human resources
  • The ERP Solution shall be implemented to limit a reliance on manual processes to consolidate subsidiary data, limit redundant data processing, increase data validation and help to increase user adoption
  • The ERP Solution shall be implemented in phases in order to limit initial budget expenditure and provide a foundational, transformational platform for growth.  Requirements should be approached with consideration for their impact and budget in order to determine their priority in the scope of the ERP platform.
  • The ERP Solution shall be implemented to enable operational efficiency and to implement change within the organization. Emphasis on adoption of new processes, process improvement, and efficiency are the priorities of the implementation.

Please reach out to me at if you're interested in learning more about setting Guiding Principles in your ERP engagement!


By Jeff Bacon, VP Client Development, Catapult ERP, BC Canada Microsoft Dynamics Partner

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