Tuesday two weeks ago I attended an event in Norway called “ERP Utfodrerdagen”, which is best translated with “Put the ERP vendors against the wall day”. The idea was that customers and the moderators would ask tough questions to ERP vendors, which included global players like IFS, SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, as well as some local ones.
My biggest takeaway from the day though had nothing to do with the questions asked, nor with the statements made by our competitors. Instead it was the opening presentation by Arild Saastad from Bertel O. Steen (one of Norway’s largest service and trading groups). Arilds set the scene by talking about their experience from a very large ERP implementation. He compared selecting an ERP system with a marriage, talked about challenges and benefits, about the need for vendors to understand their customers business etc. But what really stuck with me were the comments he made about how important it is for an ERP vendor to earn the trust of the organizations using their systems. His point being that choosing and using an ERP system is a very long term commitment on which you bet your business (we’ve all seen too many examples of how failed ERP implementations can hurt a business). A commitment from which you don’t walk away unless you get really angry. A commitment that has to be based on trust—trust that the other party will understand and respect you, that the other party will be there for you also in tough times, trust that the other will be open and honest.
This got me thinking about the early adopter program we are running for our upcoming May release IFS Applications 8. To date four of our customers have already implemented and gone live on a beta release that we gave them back in October.
Most of us would probably hesitate to step onto an airplane if we were told it was a brand new model that wasn’t quite finished, and our flight would be the first time it has flown (rather than tested in simulators). Yet here are companies that have taken our brand new product, that isn’t quite finished, and gone live with it knowing that none else has ever done it before. To me that speaks volumes of trust. Trust for which all of us here at IFS are truly grateful.
For my own part I will from hereon make trust a factor of any decision regarding whether a new product is ready to be released. Simply asking the question “Do we have the trust of the ones who will us it” will tell a lot. It might not tell if the product is error free, but it will tell me a lot about whether we have done enough to understand the user’s needs, whether we have clearly explained the workings and benefits, and whether we have been able to demonstrate a product that is fit for purpose. In short, whether we have earned the trust of the users.
And to our early adopters Portsmouth Aviation, BrightPoint, VBG Group, Teracom and Remmele Engineering I just want to say thank you for trusting in us—we cannot do it without you.