During a recent call with the ITK team, and after discussing the business of the day, the topic of extreme sports came up. We found out that besides mountain bikers, a paraglider, marathoners and some deep-sea fishing maniacs a few of us have completed a triathlon, an Ironman and even one of us made it to the World Championships in Kona, HI.
It brought back memories of my last race a few years ago and when I wrote this article after completing an Ironman 70.3 in Austin. After a number of years not actively racing, and nothing more than being a weekend warrior cyclist and irregular runner, I transformed under the skillful guidance of my coach to a Triathlete who completed a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run, in 6:21 hours – exactly according to plan. I thanked her for all her guidance, advise, concern, and overall care through these months in which we got to know each other better. During the chat the question, “What’s next?” came up.
Finishing an Ironman 70.3 according to plan is very much like finishing an ERP implementation on time and on budget.
So, I’m sure the feeling I had when she asked me that “What’s next” question is much the same as the feeling many of my clients have after completing an ERP implementation, and ready to go live.
During an ERP implementation you work with consultants, developers, and project leaders, and rely on their guidance to see the project through to completion. Then, when the system goes live, and you see the consulting team move on to another project and you begin to disengage. Leading up to the race, I worked with my triathlon coach in much the same way, relying on her expertise and guidance to help me build my strength and endurance, while at the same time remaining free from injuries.
Now that the race was over, I too found myself beginning to disengage. It seemed to me that I had reached the end of my training journey. I could probably walk on my own, handle my own schedule, and based on the repetitive nature of the exercises, continue to improve myself. It’s easy. I’ve been coached. I know what I’m doing. I can take it from here, right? It’s a natural feeling. Fortunately for me, I’ve completed enough Triathlon races to recognize these thoughts, and I’m experienced enough to know that going on your own is not the best course of action, even with an individual sport. Having a group around you to support, guide, train, and race with you is truly a better approach. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to hire a coach to help me prepare for this race.
It’s easy to believe that Business Systems implementation projects like ERP, CRM, POS and PSA are all the same. It looks straight forward, and yes, you can maintain and support much of the system yourself. After all, that is what the hired implementation consulting team trained you to do. However, when it comes time to optimize or take things to the next level, paid expertise is always better than free or Googled advice. This is especially true when it comes to your personal health, or the health of your business. A fact that was confirmed to me during a conversation with another Triathlete on the flight back home. He had underperformed and injured himself during the race, simply by going it alone and winging his preparation.
Again, it’s as true in software implementations as it is in sports – free advice can be quite costly.
Professional support from those who know you, or who will work with you and get to know you and your challenges, applies whether you’re preparing for an Ironman Triathlon or the next stage in the evolution of your business. Therefore, make smart decisions when you select the partner you work with to get you over the finish line as planned.
If you’ve recently gone live with your implementation or are just about to, think of it as the end of Phase 1 in an ongoing plan of continuous improvement. Referring back to the Triathlon analogy, when you want to train for an Ironman you start small with a Sprint distance or Olympic distance race and work your way up to a Half Ironman distance of 70.3 miles and eventually taking on the ultimate challenge of a full Ironman distance — 140.6 miles. In business, it is the same with your ERP system. Think of your implementation like a marathon, not a sprint. Begin with a defined set of business processes for the first phase of your implementation. Then, after your first phase goes live and things have settled down a bit, spool up your next challenge and extend your ERP reach into other business processes and entities. Continuously improve the strength and health of your business under the guidance of a professional support team. Think about areas Beyond ERP such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), Mixed Reality, Analytics and Big Data.
Endurance is everything in long distance racing (such as half or full Ironman) and just as in business, it is preparation, strategy, stamina, guidance, and support that allow you to reach the goals you have set for yourself. So, think about how you want to reach that next goal.
As for what’s next for me, I haven’t decided yet. COVID-19 has disrupted most of my training regiment as much as it disrupted all else around us. I know one thing, when I sign up for another race, I certainly will call my coach to help ensure I reach my goals as efficiently as possible. If you’re looking for a coach who can partner with you on “What’s Next?” please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
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