Recently I blogged about how people drive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to success. The tools that leverage superior people performance in turn can enhance the business performance of ERP systems in an organisation. The social phenomenon known as social media marketing can play an important part in ERP performance in the future. Let’s see it from the customer / user perspective.
The social media marketing ‘Big 4’ of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and You Tube together with blogs, websites and intranet pages offer the following possible benefits for ERP customers / users:
• Promoting your site or business
• Improved marketing, PR and customer service
• Powerful strategy to gain connections & knowledge
• Conversations with vendors and ERP experts directly
• Conversations with other ERP customers/ users
• Easy searching of ERP vendors and experts
• Easy searching of other ERP customers/users
• Groups sharing best practises and knowledge
• Personalisation - find people you know, like & trust
• Cost effective marketing solutions
• Obtaining recommendations & references
• Online business meetings
• Intranet pages for ERP user communities
• Ask questions and ask for help
The key objectives for all ERP systems should be:
• Automating processes - achieving cost savings
• Informing stakeholders (reporting) - effective information for competitive advantage
• Educating users and managers - to utilise the full potential of ERP systems
• Transforming the way business is done - use ERP systems to change for the better
Organisations which fail to maximise the potential of ERP systems display similar problems such as heavy customizations, a lack of planning and management, disgruntled users, ad hoc ancillary systems in MS Excel and MS Access, an array of reporting tools, problematic interfaces and are often IT driven. There is a big hole between the users and the applications team in IT. Much disappears down it….
Could it be that just like people, ERP systems need behaviours and attributes to drive them to success? I believe even in successful ERP implementations the Go Live is the half way mark at best.
So what are the drivers for ERP performance success?
In my experience I would suggest the following:
• Actually Managing Oracle Applications
• Successful Change Management
• Leading a Support Team
• Measuring Success and Value for Money
• Data and Information Management
• Customers and Collaboration
• Reporting and Business Intelligence
• Empowerment and Super Users
• Change Control and Value for Money
• Project Management Kept Simple
• Process Improvement
So how can the features, tools and strategies of social media marketing support these drivers? Well a little brainstorming suggests the following.
The search and selection of ERP vendors can be supported by finding and conversing with the vendors’ existing customers about the suitability of their solution. The recruitment of ERP staff and contractors follows the same line.
There should be greater visibility of both ERP strategy and business ownership of ERP systems in the organisation. Greater personalisation and visibility will enable companies to become demand-driven ERP users rather than supply-driven.
Successful change management can be supported by more informal and rapid communications of visions, strategies, online training, online presentations, conversations, and the publication of short term wins. The team can be fired up by a leadership alliance and team of change agents both visible and consistent in their messages.
An effective support team can be enhanced by joining online communities on social media sites around their ERP system. They can listen to their users daily about their pain points. Support updates, training tips and system downtimes can be communicated by text or video. They should use Intranet forms for support service requests ensuring requests reach support analysts almost immediately.
Both technical and business performance can be measured, published, discussed, and improved using online communities. Such communities can undertake their own benchmarking initiatives covering ROI, service requests, customer analysis, efficiency analysis, change requests and the efficiency and effectiveness of ongoing training provision including online delivery.
Business process, data and information management best practises can also be published and discussed in social media groups and intranet pages.
It is so important to clearly define your customers and users. Then collaborate with these colleagues in organisations using engagement models and custodianship models. These define clearly and consistently engagements, roles, responsibilities, duties etc. Using social media tools can enhance communications and teamwork especially between the business and IT.
ERP Reporting and Business Intelligence are minefields which again need the collaboration of the business and IT. The healthier and more personalised this relationship it will surely improve the chances of clearly defining requirements and jointly seeking optimal solutions from vendors.
ERP Super Users can enhance their teamwork, training and education using social media tools. This should help fill the hole between IT and the business. There are many resources available out there to be consumed, discussed and shared in their communities. Their customers including users, managers, auditors and other stakeholders can join in these conversations.
Organisations can improve change request control and securing value for money processes by increasing visibility and inviting rapid feedback from all functional analysts and business colleagues too.
Project management can be kept simple and more effective by building relationships between all stakeholders; and using online meetings and social media tools to enhance communications, project reporting, asking for help, mitigating risks and fixing issues.
Social media marketing is about personalisation - people talking to each other and nurturing relationships. People working and doing business with those they know, like and trust too. There is greater participation, openness and willingness to help. There are many tools which can be utilised such as forums, groups, fan pages, profile searches, recommendations etc.
Organisations need to have a social media strategy which leverages the benefits and mitigates the security and PR risks; and manages changing relationships with vendors. The costs of social media marketing are a fraction of the potential rewards.
There are real cost savings out there to be gained from improved ERP selection, recruitment of resources, and fiercer and fairer competition between ERP vendors. A highly motivated IT and business alliance can leverage the drivers of ERP performance and drive greater value from ERP systems.