What Fantasy Football Has Taught Me about Implementing ERP Systems
Well, it’s time for another year of Fantasy Football…another year of hoping that I draft well, field the right teams, make the necessary adjustments, and hopefully have fun. I realized that a lot of the skill needed to play Fantasy Football can help with an ERP Implementation.
In the leagues to which I belong, I evaluate the players, follow news, and watch trends, then make decisions, look at things from a different perspective, take some risks, and have fun. These skills are similar to the skills needed in ERP projects. You need to analyze your needs, make decisions, communicate, and evaluate, take risks, and find ways to have fun in implementations.
This blog post will draw some of the similarities between the key skills used Fantasy Football to those needed in an ERP Implementations and show how your skills in one should help in the other. It will at least make you think of an ERP project in a different manner…and might make you laugh.
So I was recently invited to join a league of expert Fantasy Football teams last year, and surprisingly, they invited me back this year. As I was getting ready for the draft, I looked over all of the possible players to target those I definitely wanted on my team. Do I take a wide receiver or a running back? Will the elite quarterbacks be drafted early or be around when I drafted? I spent hours upon hours reading Sports Illustrated and every Fantasy Football website I could find. All this was my way of identifying what I wanted and what I needed to make the best draft decisions I could.
When preparing an ERP project, you need to analyze your needs, too. Without knowing what you want, you may not get what you need. Meet with the users. Gauge their talent level. Evaluate how changes will affect them. Find out their pain points and what they like about their existing systems. Before you select a system, determine what you need. This analysis will help throughout the project.
You draft a team of who you hope are the best players, but you also need to keep an eye on them. I have subscribed to several news sources to make sure I know when every NFL player has an injury and if or how it will affect their play. This network of constant information has allowed me to identify when a player on my starting line-up would need to be benched for an alternative. This has also allowed me to know when there is a player that I coveted that might become available as a free agent.
Just as having access to information is critical to Fantasy Football, so is access to information in an ERP project. You will need to be aware of your fellow coworkers and what tasks they are doing. Open dialogs need to be in place where you can keep up with the status of the project. Who is having concerns and who is having successes? Identify the best way to make sure everyone has access to the information and can communicate their status on a regular basis. It is better to know that you need to find a new running back on Tuesday instead of Sunday. Keeping the lines of communication clear will allow you that luxury.
Take some risks
In Fantasy Football, you may need to look at things a little differently than you want to. You may need to find a QB after Stafford, Manning, Luck, Rodgers and Wilson have been taken in the draft. You may need to look for the diamonds in the rough and trust that they will pay off for you. In one league last year, I drafted only rookies. It was a bit different than conventional wisdom but quite fun. I think I ended up in 3rd place in that league.
A typical stumbling block in an ERP project is holding on to existing business processes because that is the way that you have always done it. I cannot tell you how many times in the last 16 years of ERP implementations I have heard that. Now is the time to look at what the ERP software can offer and see if it might offer better ways of solving your issues. Take a risk on trying something a bit new. Following convention is ok (I might done been better than 3rd place), but taking a risk (now and again) can lead to better rewards.
Evaluate and re-evaluate
Last year, like the Detroit Lions, I started a rookie kicker. And like the Lions, I found myself looking for a kicker in week two, week three, and week four, when finally I settled on a player. There were other positions I needed to change on the team. I think that of my team, only four were drafted by me. My draft had many mistakes in it, but I was able to see the error in my ways and adjust as the season went on.
An ERP implementation takes time—as much time as it takes to build a house (and sometimes longer). You need to be able to review what in the implementation works for you and what can be improved upon. Testing is a great way for you to evaluate the ERP system and identify the areas that work and do not work. It also helps identify the way that you can change to successfully implement your ERP. You should not stay with the original plan if something works better for your organization. Don’t be afraid to recognize when you need to change and act upon it.
One of the best parts of Fantasy Football is the relationships you form with the others in your league. I’m not afraid to laugh and send a slight jeer at my competitors…and they are sending them back to me. I also watch their players and celebrate with them when they score.
Because ERP implementations take time, you will be working with a team of people in stressful and tiring experiences, sometimes for up to a year or more. Try to find the little opportunities along the way that make you and your team laugh. This will make the work more rewarding.
The skills of Analysis, Communication, Taking risk, Re-evaluating, and Making decisions are critical in both Fantasy Football and ERP Implementations. The most important skill, however, is to have Fun.