Ed Cornelius

Founder and CEO at Collegiate Project Services
Ed Cornelius is a teacher, author, consultant, and seminar speaker. Ed has forty years as an industrial-organizational psychologist, specializing in leadership development, leadership coaching, creating teams and teamwork, intrinsic motivation in the workplace, and organization change management (OCM) interventions.

An ERP implementation can be a multi-year and multi-million dollar project involving executives, staff, faculty, trustees, and other stakeholders across the campus.  If your institution is considering such a project, it is important to learn how best to prepare stakeholders and get your campus ready for such an undertaking!

Over the years our firm has managed a large number of ERPs and we believe that the best way to prepare for such a venture is to make sure that institutional stakeholders can answer these eight questions.

ERP implementation 


1. Is the ERP project included in the institution’s Strategic Plan?

First make sure that an ERP project has been sanctioned as part of the institution’s ongoing strategic plan.  An ERP System affects every department and function of the university and it is important to incorporate it as part of the institutions’ long-term planning.


2. Has there been a business case made for an ERP?

Has the institution sponsored a person or a committee to develop a business case for an ERP project? This person (or committee) will develop the rationale (pros and cons) of an ERP, the costs, the platform, expected benefits, and so forth.


3. Is there executive staff alignment around preparing for an ERP?

Making a decision to prepare for an ERP is a formidable step. The president and all the executive staff members of the institution must be in agreement.   Occasionally, one or more of the Board of Trustees may want to weigh in on the decision.


4. Will the institution carry out a discovery phase?

We believe it is indispensable for the institution to put together a discovery team that will visit two or more institutions that have recently gone through an ERP implementation.  These mutual discussions are extremely helpful for understanding the scope of issues involved in ERP projects.


5. Do your stakeholders understand the options now available in the market today?

In addition to commercial ERP’s (such as Ellucian Banner, Ellucian Colleague, Oracle  PeopleSoft, Campus Management, CampusVue, Jenzabar, and others), there are now Cloud solutions, hosted solutions, on-site and offsite, etc. (The decision on moving to cloud or tradition ERP has pros and cons that are different for every institution.  For more on this, read our blog 5 Reasons to Evaluate Cloud-Based ERP for your Institution…and 1 Reason Not To)


6. Will the institution commit to an “ERP Readiness Assessment” from a non-partisan ERP expert?

An ERP Readiness Assessment project will be indispensable for the institution to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their institution to actually carry out a multi-year ERP implementation. Typically, there are a number of factors that are evaluated in determining how well your institution will fare in such a project. Characteristically, the information uncovered by the readiness assessment helps the institution to learn the strengths that they can capitalize on, as well as attacking the weakness that were identified in the assessment.


ERP readiness assessment


7. Will the institution launch a communication plan around ERP preparation?

It is critical to launch a campus-wide communication plan so that institutional stakeholders can start to understand what an ERP is and what must be done to prepare for an ERP implementation.  These communication activities might include selected focus group sessions, town hall meetings, and a website with posted Q & A.


8. Finally, does the executive team really understand the true costs of an ERP?

Preparation for an ERP must finally involve an understanding of the “true” costs of such an undertaking. When putting together an ERP budget, it is important to calculate and display both project costs and annual recurring costs (ARC).  Annual costs are ongoing costs that are permanently added to the institution’s operating budget, precisely because the new software is in place.  Examples of these ongoing costs are annual software maintenance costs, hardware maintenance costs, the costs for “backfill positions” for the duration of the project, etc.

Remember also there are countless costs that don’t usually show up in a budget, such as ERP conference attendance, hardware equipment storage, audit costs, office and clerical supplies, “war room expenses,” and of course the ever present “scope creep” that can ruin any ERP budget!


In Summary

If the key stakeholders in your institution can answer “YES” to six or more ERP preparation questions, you have a good start in preparation for an ERP project.  If the key stakeholders of your institution can answer “YES” to all eight ERP questions, your institution is likely advanced in learning how to prepare for an ERP project. On the other hand, if the key stakeholders can answer “YES” to only one or two questions, then your institution is a long way away from preparing for an ERP implementation- more research and work is needed before jumping into such a large project.

Further, the range of options available to schools continues to grow.  There are a number of solutions available to institutions across a variety of deployment models, such as ‘on premise’, hosted and SaaS options.  Each of these options presents unique benefits to an institution, as well as some specific challenges.  Schools must also consider their long-term technology plan and how that fits in with a specific decision related to ERP, or rather, how an ERP decision fits into their strategic technology plan.




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