I watched the new Alice in Wonderland movie a couple weeks back. It was very entertaining and, in a strange way, educational as well. (Spoiler warning - if you haven't seen it, I mention some details below that you may not want to know.) After the 3D excitement was over and I was driving the 7 miles home from the theater, it struck me how many similarities there are between Alice's journey and the journey of ERP software implementation. I know, a bizarre analogy, but this is how my mind works sometimes.
The parallel that stood out most was the mental voyage that Alice took within herself. She started completely in the dark with no understanding of why she was there or where she was going. If you are part of a newly appointed team who has been given the task to implement a new ERP software package, you may feel the same way and the quote, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there" might come to mind. Just as Alice has the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and many others to show her the way and help her along, it is the job of the software provider to be the guiding influence to ensure a successful implementation. From your sales person, to your implementation expert, along with trainers and technical support specialists, you should have a team of experts to help you along the way as well. This starts by providing a picture of where success will take you. Stephen R. Covey said it well when he advised us to "Begin with the end in mind". (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) It is important for everyone in the organization to see how a successful implementation will benefit the company, their customers, and themselves.
Once Alice understood why she had been brought back to Wonderland and the large task that lay in front her, she was a bit overwhelmed. Her exact words were, "This is impossible". To that, the Mad Hatter replied, "Only if you believe it is". Even with that advice and all of the other help she was given, Alice was still unsure. She continued to search for a "Plan B", a safety net that would prevent her from having to take the risk she was so determined to avoid. During an implementation, it is very easy to try and hold on to "what we've always done". It is important for everyone involved to understand why the status quo is no longer good enough and that going back is not an option. This leaves the only means of success to be moving forward.
It wasn't until Alice looked at all that was at stake that she realized that failure wasn't an option. It was then that she threw away her safety net and made the decision to be the champion that everyone else knew she was. Whether you are the implementation project leader, a member of the implementation team, or an end user learning the new software for the first time, decide to be the champion. Look back only to find the starting point where improvement begins. Look forward to find understanding, possibility, and ultimately success.