Unboxing Logistics: An EasyPost Podcast

Navigating the ERP Implementation Highway With Nancy Seaboldt From Summit Advisory Team - Ep. 26

February 28, 2024 | 45:21

In This Episode

Implementing a new ERP is a massive endeavor, and your business has a lot to consider. Which internal stakeholders should be part of the implementation project team? How will you get everyone else on board with the change?

In this episode, Nancy Seaboldt, ERP practice lead for Summit Advisory Team, shares advice for making the ERP implementation process smooth and effective.

The purpose of an ERP system

Nancy begins by describing the purpose of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system: “ERP systems come into play when companies outgrow running their business on spreadsheets. Spreadsheets can only take you so far. … In a nutshell, ERPs bring together the people, the core business processes, and the technology across the organization.”

Getting buy-in on your ERP implementation

While the technical side of software implementation is vital, change management plays an important role as well. Nancy says, “A change management plan … is defining the roadmap for going from A to B from a personal standpoint. It’s a communication plan.”

Change management isn’t just a nice-to-have; Nancy emphasizes that it’s “critical to the success of the project.”

Customization vs. transformation

For a new ERP to truly make a difference in your company, you have to be willing to embrace change. “[It’s a mistake] to make the new system meet the old way of doing things. … That's not transformation. That's customization. … Implementing the new ERP should be considered transformational. Avoid just replicating what's done today to keep the status quo.”



Lori Boyer 00:00 

Welcome to Unboxing Logistics, the podcast from EasyPost, where we dive into all of the topics that are most pertinent in the industry right now. I'm Lori Boyer, and I am your host today. On today's episode, we have a very special guest, Nancy Seaboldt. You'll get to meet her in just a second. But we're going to be talking all about ERP implementation today.

Really interesting topic. I was reading up some studies around the topic recently and I saw that, you know, our industry, the logistics and shipping industry, it's one of the most important industries for an ERP system. It's also where we can see a lot of value. 95 percent of those in our industry say that it's brought a lot of value having an ERP system and making sure it's implemented well and running well within your company.

So Nancy is our expert on ERP and we are going to learn so much about how, what, when, all the good details on that today. Nancy, could you introduce yourself for us a little bit? 

Nancy Seaboldt 01:04 

Sure. Hi, Lori. Yeah, my name is Nancy. I am an ERP practice lead for Summit Advisory Team. So Summit is a division within EasyPost and we're providing industry-leading consulting services for omni channel, supply chain, warehouse enterprise systems, which would be my area, technology, architecture and change management.

So, as the practice lead for the ERP work stream, our team's focused on strategy and program management for the core foundational systems that support business operations, like merchandising, inventory management, production materials, planning as well as accounting and finance, all those fun things. My background is I, way back when, was an actual coder or developer, if you will, and migrated to managing and leading IT teams for various organizations and ultimately led me to working with clients to drive large-scale ERP implementations as well as transformational projects. So I had the opportunity to learn the systems that support the business, businesses and provide that expertise and leverage that expertise to help clients do their own implementation. 

Lori Boyer 02:23

So, okay, you are so cool. You are a woman in tech from the early days of coding. That is amazing. And I'm super excited. So every time that we have an episode here on Unboxing Logistics, it's really important to me and for our community that everybody has just some immediate takeaways. Things that when you're done listening, I want you to, you know, turn it off, turn off the video, turn off the audio, whatever you're doing, you guys know I'm talking to you and, and implement a few of the tips in our life.

So we're actually going to start with those hot takes I like to say or a big takeaway from Nancy. And then we'll come back and we'll kind of revisit them throughout the episode. But Nancy after everybody's done listening today, what are three things that are hot takes from you? 

Nancy Seaboldt 03:15 

I would say first and foremost, communication and change management planning and execution. It's critical, it's critical to the success of the project. So that's that should be you know, first and foremost. Yeah, and then top-down sponsorship and support. You've got to align on priorities across the organization and, you know, attempt that, go forward with the project with that in mind.

So you need that top-down sponsorship and support. And I would say the third thing is, and this is often the case, it's not an IT project. It's not a technology-driven project. It needs to be business-led for it to be successful. 

Lori Boyer 03:54 

Business led. I love that. Okay. I had so many questions right when you said that, but I'm holding myself back because I want to get to know you a little bit as well.

So one of the things our community really loves is getting to know everybody in the industry. So, I'm just actually going to ask you a few questions and we'll get to know the real Nancy. One of my favorite questions to get to know people, Nancy, is tell me what you were like in high school. High school, junior high, what kind of teenager were you?

Nancy Seaboldt 04:26

I probably was kind of in the middle. So I was. You know, I, I actually am a middle child, so that means you can drive. Okay, so that may drive why, why I am the way I am. But so, you know, older sibling, the model child, you know, and then the younger siblings, bit of the wild child. So I'd say I kind of rode the middle there. Little, little bit of, you know, antics, but, you know, tried to toe the line. 

Lori Boyer 04:51 

Oh, good. Did you, were you the type who was always getting straight A's? Did you participate in any sports or any clubs or anything in school? 

Nancy Seaboldt 05:01 

Yeah, so not, not a jock for sure. Definitely. 

Lori Boyer 05:06 

You had your tech hat on already. You were right.

Nancy Seaboldt 05:09 

Yeah, well, you know, I, there were certain, certain subjects I excelled in and certain, certain ones that I didn't, but you know, I actually grew up wanting to be a nurse. But then when I got into, like, biology and sciences not so much my thing. So, so, so yeah. So that, that was, that was me. 

Lori Boyer 05:28 

I love that. That's so great. Okay, Nancy, if you were to win the lottery today, besides giving half of the money to me, because I know that's the first thing you'd do, what would you do? What would life look like for Nancy? 

Nancy Seaboldt 05:44 

Yeah, I mean, I do have some passion around, you know, helping organizations, you know, with charity and, you know, I wanted to, I would love to be able to carve out more time to volunteer and not just give away money, but, you know, actually do things for the community. So I know that sounds a little corny, but that would probably be my first, first thing is to just find ways to give back. 

Lori Boyer 06:07 

Okay, that is not corny because that is exactly what I always say. I'm like, I like to work and I like to be busy, but I would love that everything I was doing was just helping others somehow. You know, running that and so yeah, probably part of the reason I actually love working on the podcast and whatnot is because I can bring people like you, experts, to our audience to give them a little bit of help and help them along in their career.

So, okay. We're ready to dive into all things ERP. Okay. So Nancy, for some of our audience who may not even know what an ERP is, you know, our community out there runs the gamut. So tell us a little bit, what, what is an ERP system? What is its purpose? All that, those good deets. 

Nancy Seaboldt 06:54 

So ERP systems really come into play when companies outgrow running their business on spreadsheets. So that, you know, spreadsheets, you know, can only can only take you so far. So the systems bring information together into a central database, if you will and try and streamline all the processes supporting those business operations. So, in a nutshell, it kind of brings together the people, the core business processes and the technology across the organization. That that make sense?

Lori Boyer 07:25 

Okay, it's kind of like a hub. Is that what I'm hearing? 

Nancy Seaboldt 07:29 

Yeah, it's bringing, you know, all of the people and connecting all those processes within the core system. 

Lori Boyer 07:38 

Okay. That's awesome. I know I hear a lot, people, processes, and technology, right? So it's kind of a hub for all of that. So as I was mentioning earlier, I read that our industry, logistics, supply chain is really an important industry for ERP systems. Why is that? 

Nancy Seaboldt 08:00 

So it's really every industry, you know does rely on ERP systems to run their core functions. So if you think of a product development company. You know, they're going to need their systems to manage that project product development from materials and planning to manufacturing and then inventory management.

And then every company has to deal with accounting and finance, right? So that's all part of the ERP system. So, and, you know, those systems, those applications need to be supported. 

Lori Boyer 08:31 

Okay. And what maybe are some examples of ERP systems so people could know kind of, oh yeah, I've heard of that. 

Nancy Seaboldt 08:38 

Sure. You know, Oracle, you know, Oracle comes to mind for larger companies as well as SAP. I'm sure those are companies that everyone's heard of. We're also seeing, you know, in the midsize a lot of NetSuite, which is a division of Oracle. Sage is another one. And also Microsoft Dynamics. So those are just to name a few that, you know, folks might, might have heard or if they're looking, might want to poke around and take a look at what those systems do.

Lori Boyer 09:04 

Okay, are ERP systems, do you think, beneficial for most companies or, you know, you mentioned once they've outgrown the spreadsheet. If we have somebody who's maybe right on that cusp, how could they know maybe that it's time to move on to an ERP versus just their spreadsheet? 

Nancy Seaboldt 09:22 

Yeah, if it's becoming difficult to manage there's, you know, concern about accuracy of data, they're trying to go public, you know, those are things that you're going to need to have core ERP systems in place to actually, you know, run your business and be able to do proper financial reporting.

Lori Boyer 09:43 

Okay. So if things are starting to feel a little unwieldy. You feel like that's, that sense of dread you get at night that like, maybe there's data going on that you're not sure where it is. Maybe I'm the only one who like gets that, but you know, I'm all worried. 

Nancy Seaboldt 09:57 

Yeah. Yeah. If you've got data over here and data over here and they're supposed to match and they don't, and you're not sure why, you know, it's time to, you know, take a look at how you're running your business on what systems. And, you know, the ERP systems can help pull all that together.

Lori Boyer 10:14 

Okay, awesome. And what about switching ERP systems? So let's say you've already had one for a long time. What is maybe a symptom or a sign for you that maybe it's time for you to upgrade? Maybe you mentioned there's mid-tier ones, you need to get a bigger one, or, you know, that what you've got just isn't working for you.

Nancy Seaboldt 10:32 

I think most of what we're seeing out there are systems that have been implemented a while ago, perhaps the software vendor is no longer supporting them and they've been highly customized and can't grow any further. You know, those are some of the things that we see happening out there and kind of forcing the need to move to other systems.

Yeah, ideally you want to look for, you know, as the newer cloud-based systems are really giving companies options in terms of growing and you know, the methodology to take them into the future. 

Lori Boyer 11:07 

So if somebody's had the same ERP system, say for 10 years, do you think that that's probably a timeframe or maybe they're using a legacy system? Are we talking more than 20 years? Like how old is old? 

Nancy Seaboldt 11:18 

Yeah, I mean, I would, I would say it really depends on whether the system was built for growth or not. Certainly, you know, 20-year-old mainframe systems, you know, that's not gonna fly going forward. So if you're on a green screen, it's probably time to look for something else.

Lori Boyer 11:36 

Okay. Okay. That makes sense. Okay. So we've got our audience. Let's say that they've thought, okay, I'm ready. These spreadsheets are not doing it, or they're saying I think that it's time for me to get a little bit of an upgrade, a little change. That's why we're here today, to talk about the implementation of the new ERP system.

I know when we've talked before, team is kind of a big approach for you around implementation. Can you explain to me a little bit about that approach and what that means to you? 

Nancy Seaboldt 12:07 

So, yeah, I mean, the project team is more than just a project manager checking off items on the task list, right? Key members of the organization have to be engaged and empowered to make design decisions that best support the business operations. They need to be aligned on the vision and work collaboratively, collaboratively towards those goals. 

Lori Boyer 12:31 

So how do you form this team? Is this a temporary team that you formed just during the implementation process?

Nancy Seaboldt 12:38 

Yeah, so the team, the team needs to be thought out upfront. So that, that team, you know, it starts from the top, right? So putting together, you know, who, who's, who's championing the project? And then defining, you know, the, the key roles within the project. You know, there's, you know, the, the key roles being, you know, you start with your executive sponsor, you know, who's going to champion and drive the strategy for this project, right? So that's the key. And then you have your project manager and their role is to keep those timelines and scope and check, make sure the project's running smoothly. 

And then there's an implementation partner. So depending on the size of your organization and the capabilities, we usually see an implementation partner or a systems integrator being brought in to, to help with the implementation, and they have expertise in the particular software that you're implementing and they provide technical and functional resources to assist, but they're not there to make business decisions. That's really, you know, the client organization needs to own that. 

Lori Boyer 13:46 

Okay, so that goes back to the hot take you had at the beginning that this isn't IT. This isn't a technical. This isn't about just the software. It's a business decision. What do you mean by that? 

Nancy Seaboldt 14:00 

So if you have an IT-driven project, you have technologists who are focused on, you know, what's best from a system architecture standpoint, you know, what's best from a technology standpoint.

But their role, they're not running business operations, so they're not going to necessarily know how best to organize your product how, you know, how best to set up your product hierarchy, if you will. That's, that's a key thing in some of the merchandising systems out there. But you know, the IT organization is not well versed in how the business operations run. So you really need to have folks on the project team who can help guide the technology implementation. If that makes sense. 

Lori Boyer 14:43 

Okay. My husband's a total tech guy. He's a software engineer. And I just have to say that he can get bogged down in the tech and be, and not always think of the bigger picture in terms of, you know, oh, but this will work much better with this integration of blah, blah, blah, you know, where I'm more like, let's look over the whole organic, what, how is this going to impact everything?

And so I can totally relate to what you're saying. So, okay. So you said we need an executive sponsor. So let's say that you've come into this company. You're like, I'm consulting. I'm going to bring it down. I'm creating my team. You've got an executive sponsor. That's just an executive team member who's passionate about it. Who is a champion. You said, tell me about that person, what that looks like. 

Nancy Seaboldt 15:31 

So that person you know, typically part of the executive team. Will help have, will have helped build the business case for the, for the project and gotten the funding for it. And then brings the other executive team members together to, to make sure that this project is, you know, key for the organization, gets alignment on, you know, the priorities for the business and that, you know, this is the right time, these are the right people, this is the right funding and will champion that project as it moves forward.

Lori Boyer 16:09 

Okay, so if this executive, let's say she or he is listening right now, they're trying to work, then you said they helped develop this, this project team, right? And so you said we get a project manager and a tech person, I assume. Did you cover that? 

Nancy Seaboldt 16:27 

Yeah, certainly. Yeah. Yeah, certainly. You know, there's a number of other roles, you know, that on the technology team. You're going to have obviously your integration team members, your system or enterprise architecture making sure that this is going to fit into the landscape, how it fits. You're also going to have reporting and data warehouse team members. So you know, these ERP systems have a lot of data, but you're going to need reporting analytics built out that are, you know, focused on what your business needs are. So that's a key team, you know, to incorporate security, data security, application security, and then infrastructure, you know you know, basically, you know, how, how that's going to fit into the, to the technical landscape. So that's, those are other key roles. 

Lori Boyer 17:18 

Okay, so those are the good tech and, and key roles. Any other areas where they should make sure that they have on their team? 

Nancy Seaboldt 17:26 

So the, you know, change management, we mentioned that before. Having somebody lead out on change and understand and map how that change is gonna be executed. And then probably the key resources on it are the subject matter experts from the business. So, each project team is going to need these subject matter experts from across the organization. And they'll be the champions from their respective departments in their respective, in their roles. So, not only do they bring to the table, the expertise to make the design decisions.

But they're also going to be the go-to person or the change agent within their respective departments to make sure that there's adoption. So you know, understanding and adoption. So they're really going to help champion within their own departments. So those are key roles. 

Lori Boyer 18:22 

Yeah. That is so critical that, you know, we can spend millions of dollars and, but you don't get buy-in, you know, and nobody implements it. Then it's kind of pointless. So I, I love those individual champions, the subject matter experts of the different industries. So when, when we're said and done, what would be, would you guess the typical size of this kind of team? We're talking 10 to 12 people, five, how big's too big? 

Nancy Seaboldt 18:50 

Yeah. I mean, it really depends on the organization. Cause, and I think that's the one thing that, you know, what we try and do is not bring a cookie cutter approach to an implementation. We really need to understand the culture of the organization, but I would expect that the team could be on the small side, maybe 12 people on the large side could be 30 people.

Lori Boyer 19:15 

So, okay. Okay. So 12 to 30, that's a great ballpark range. What about the time for an implementation? What, what could they expect on average? How long does that last? 

Nancy Seaboldt 19:26 

And that's that, I know it's the usual pat answer. It really depends, right? And it's, it's, it's what your scope is, you know, how, you know, how many key business operations are going to be part of the scope for your project. So it could be, it could be four months. It could be 18 months. So it really depends. 

Lori Boyer 19:50 

Okay. And have you seen both? What, I mean, what's the shortest and the longest you've ever seen? 

Nancy Seaboldt 19:54 

Yeah, so I don't think you want the longest because that was, I was brought in on two different projects where they'd been through three different program managers and the implementation was three years behind. So, so that's, yeah, that's not where you want to be. So that's the worst-case scenario. 

Lori Boyer 20:17 

What were the kind of hiccups, the problems that led to it being so long? And I think that's, you know, our audience doesn't want that to happen to them. You know, for this particular case or, or just even others that you've seen, what are some of those roadblocks that may create kind of a disaster like that?

Nancy Seaboldt 20:34 

In these particular cases I think the mistake that was made is trying to make the new system meet the old way of doing things. So in other words, you know, replicating how things were done before by customizing the system and making it work exactly like it did before. So that's not transformation.

That's, you know, customization and at the end of the day, you know, it ends up getting unwound, you know, it's because it's not, you know, it's not best practice and it's not, you know, allowing the company to move forward. So those are, those were some of the reasons. And then, you know, the, the other thing is, was, you know, folks unable or not empowered to make the right design decisions. So team members, you know, design, making design decisions that were then unwound by executives, you know, down the road. So those were some. 

Lori Boyer 21:28 

Okay. So that brings into, yeah, that is so insightful and very, very helpful in terms of number one, sometimes we think we want change, but all we're really trying to do is have the exact same, you know, we don't like things to always change.

We're comfortable with the status quo. So get that right out of your mind, you guys, if that's what you're wanting to do, you know, change means change. It's a little uncomfortable. But also that executive leadership role. So let's talk a little bit more about that because that was one of your hot takes at the beginning.

Obviously, you know, I liked how you said that the employees weren't empowered to be able to do maybe what they needed to do and that that executive role, let's talk a little bit more about that. Can you share kind of what this executive person needs to have in their mental arsenal? What do they need to go into this prepared to know and do? 

Nancy Seaboldt 22:24 

Yeah, we make the tough calls sometimes, you know, and that's, you know, really being the ultimate decision maker. You know, not every team member is going to agree, you know, one department may want to do something one way. Another department has another requirement and they may not, you know align. 

And as the executive sponsor, you know, we really, the project team would really rely on that person to help make the final call. And not, you know, and have it be a, you know, a well-informed decision, obviously, and something that will work go forward. But really be the guide for, for the entire team and be able to cross the organization in terms of, you know, making decisions, understanding how business processes work and helping with the change management around that.

Lori Boyer 23:15

Okay. So which do you see is a more common challenge for this role. That A, they kind of leave it up to the departments to battle it out. They don't make the call. As you said, one of their jobs is to make the call. Or do you see more often that maybe they just make the call? But don't get buy-in from the team that didn't get and the call the way they wanted.

Nancy Seaboldt 23:38 

Yeah. And that's where you end up getting design decisions getting, you know, re re looked at and unwound if that doesn't happen. So it's really not just making the call, but making the parties involved understand what the call is and why it is what it is and ensuring that, you know, there's adoption go forward. So I think that that's a good call out Lori. 

Lori Boyer 24:03 

Awesome. So let's talk about strategies you're implementing. What are some of the key strategies then? We talked a little bit about some of these challenges that some organizations had. Three plus years, I mean, that just gives us all shivers. But what are the, let's avoid that, right? So, what are some key strategies to make sure that we've got a smooth implementation? 

Nancy Seaboldt 24:24 

Well, I think anticipate bumps. So, you know, there's going to be bumps along the way. And you've got to level set expectations on that. And then, you know, having a plan in place to address those. So, just, you know, keeping, keeping the eye, keeping your eye on that and making sure that you know, everyone is informed.

So communication, you know, during the project at all times is really important across the organization so that there's no surprises at the end. So no one's feeling left out, even if they're not part of the project team, you know, they know this change is coming and then, you know, you're expanding who's involved when process design is happening so that everyone's engaged.

Lori Boyer 25:06 

Okay. So are there, you know, since we have kind of a wide range of timing for implementation and whatnot, are there KPIs or metrics, you know, things that people should look at to make sure you're staying on track that while, you know, you've anticipated for this bump in the road, you know, that you haven't hit a mountain, hit a wall or something.

Nancy Seaboldt 25:26 

Yeah. So the KPIs are really different, you know, for each organization. But from a project standpoint, I mean obviously you're, you know, you're, you're, you're measuring to the project plan. You know, you, you do, you know, you develop these milestones along the way. You know, I know companies approach projects differently, whether it's a waterfall or an agile method, but regardless, there needs to be some key milestones so that there's, you know, alignment on design, you know, functional design. How is the system going to be configured to work go forward. And then you have, you know specific checkpoints along the way that you're, you're measuring yourself to. And that's, that's really where the project manager comes into play is making sure you're hitting those, you know, those checkpoints.

And if and when you go off track, which is going to happen because, you know things happen whether it be business or, you know, team or, you know, technical challenges or stuff that's going to happen along the way. So that project manager's role is to really, you know, make sure those things are identified, escalated where needed, you know, where needed, and, you know, the obstacles are overcome so that the team can move forward.

Lori Boyer 26:34 

What I really heard was the project manager is critical here in making sure that you've set something. So you're not saying, hey, well, we'll probably get this done within the next nine months. And that's your KPI, you know, that's your metric. Instead it's you know, let's hit stage this and stage this, and the project manager is helping to drive that and adjust. Hopefully the reason they're needing to adjust is that, you know, business blew up so huge That they've got 20 million times the orders that they had and they've been so busy, right?

But whatever the hiccups are that came along the way, that you're adjusting and making sure that you're keeping things moving and not just stalled. Does that seem like what? 

Nancy Seaboldt 27:14 

Yep, you got it. 

Lori Boyer 27:15 

Okay, perfect. Okay. Let's talk about what a steering committee is. 

Nancy Seaboldt 27:19 

Sure. So the steering committee and you know, again, it depends on your organization and how big or you know formal they are but the steering committee is really, they're guiding the way. And when there are conflicting opinions, requiring design decisions, or, you know, a yes, no, or, you know a debate that, you know, you can't drive to closure.

The steering committee is where you'd escalate to. They're also who the project manager would report to, to make sure that, you know, they're informed on project status. And, you know, if there's any variants to the plan. 

Lori Boyer 27:53 

Are they like a sub segment of the full project team? They're just a few members who are on the project team who are also the steering committee?

Nancy Seaboldt 28:02 

Yeah, so it's a little bit of both. It may be project team members and their you know, department leads, you know, you know, every every company has different roles, but it's usually department leads who can answer for and, and own their respective areas and, and make those final calls when needed.

Lori Boyer 28:26 

Okay. And, but it may be outside of the team as well then. 

Nancy Seaboldt 28:30 


Lori Boyer 28:31

And I can imagine that being really helpful because sometimes when you're on a team, you get bogged down in all the details of the team and like the, no, of course we can't do this. This is too hard. But an outside perspective. 

Nancy Seaboldt 28:43 

Absolutely. Yeah, it's this higher-level perspective, right? So somebody who's passionate and knows, you know, their particular job within their department and how they work doesn't necessarily see the bigger picture. So that steering committee is really helping, you know, provide that oversight and that, that high level guidance. 

Lori Boyer 29:01 

Yeah. So I'm hearing a lot of need for change management. Do you, so we, do we typically just have a single change management point person? Are there multiple change mana. I mean change management, I just read some study where a huge number of projects fail because of lack of buy-in, right? Lack of getting people on board. And that is a very complex relationship and emotion driven and you know, all of those different pieces. So to me, change management seems really critical here. I guess, just, can you share a little bit about how you approach the change management role, who that is and how it functions? 

Nancy Seaboldt 29:43 

Sure. And we have a change management practice lead whose sole focus is this on, for, you know, understanding change management, helping guide change management for all types of projects.

But for ERP in particular. You know, there's a change management plan that needs to be developed to focus on how you're going to take your associates to the new business process. It's defining the roadmap for going from A to B from a, from a personal standpoint. And that's, you know, a communication plan.

How are you going to keep everyone informed throughout the project? And how are you going to keep them excited and up to date on what's coming right? And just kind of prepare them for the change. Defining those SOPs, those standard operating procedures. Right? So how are they going to function going forward? And make sure that those are mapped out. Some, some companies are, are, you know, pretty organized around that. Some companies don't have written standard operating procedures. But coming out of this ERP project, you really need to commit to that. Because that's, that's really going to help onboard new associates and help adoption go forward.

And it's also about assessing the roles and responsibilities that will be needed go forward. And does that mean organizational change for your company? You know, are you going to be moving somebody from one department to another because, you know, that process is shifting a bit? And do you have the skill set to support that go forward?

And then, you know, the obvious ones are training plan and, you know, execution. So that's, that's what people sometimes think change management is, is just training, but it's absolutely not. 

Lori Boyer 31:23 

No. And it reminds me a little bit of one of your first hot takes from the beginning about communication. You know, communication always feels like one of these soft skills that it's not always easy to measure. We don't have the KPI and metrics to be like, wow, you communicated really well. You know, it's just a hard thing to measure. And because of that, it can sometimes get missed. So I absolutely love that you included it as your very first hot take.

The importance of communication. Can you, do you have anything else to say around that, especially when it comes to change management, but also any of the roles, what, how do you recommend that communication takes place? 

Nancy Seaboldt 32:01 

Early and often, yeah, early and often. And it's, you know, it's, it's also the, the, the mechanism. How do you typically communicate with your associates? And being creative about how to connect them. Especially in a world where a lot of people are remote it's a little bit easier, you know, when people are all in the same place and you can get them together and have big formal meetings, but being remote, you know, it's, it's got its own challenges.

And you know, you need to keep the organization up to speed on and on, on the journey. Right. So it's going to help with adoption and relieve that anxiety as you get closer to implementation. 

Lori Boyer 32:41 

I love how you said early and often. Nancy's, Nancy's hot take, communicate early and often. I often will say over-communicate, err on the side of over-communication rather than under-communication.

What, have you seen, have you seen any experiences, especially with the remote thing? That actually was really interesting to me when you brought that up because of the fact, I feel like it's easier to gauge if somebody's really on board in person. You know, if they really are, versus on a camera. So, you know, you talked about that method of reaching out. What are your recommendations for remote teams? 

Nancy Seaboldt 33:19 

Yeah, so I've seen some people get pretty creative and, you know, doing you know, meetings and, you know, video calls where it's, you know, focused on, you know, communicating about the project and what's coming and engaging different, you know, team members to maybe, you know, represent and talk about their particular area and what's going to change, go forward and how they're excited. And engaging those subject matter experts who are part of the project team and having them be part of the discussions. 

And even things like, you know, surveys, interact, you know, fun, interactive games and so forth. I don't know. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not the best change management person myself. That's why I make sure there's a team member on there who's better at it than I am, but really finding ways to engage and get feedback so that you understand that people are on the journey with you.

Lori Boyer 34:16 

Yeah. And I think just as you're mentioning here, just being aware that it's important and that that is a critical element and not overlooking its importance. I know recently I was on a virtual call with a few team members and I sensed some hesitancy, in one of the people on the call and I just did a quick, you know, Slack message after like, hey are you really like on board with this?

And then we were able to have a good discussion. But I think virtually just being aware and trying to think, look for maybe those little cues. But Nancy, you said it. We're not the change management people. So that's why you make sure you get the right people. 

Nancy Seaboldt 34:56 

Yeah, I mean and I think it's really about understanding your audience too. You know, you may have a thorough understanding of how a system works and, you know, are really solid from a technology standpoint, but that person may be in marketing and knows how to connect with customers and what they need from a, you know, customer stand, customer loyalty standpoint, but you guys may be talking, you know, apples and oranges. So find a way to connect with that person to make sure that they're on the same page with you. 

Lori Boyer 35:25 

One of the things I was wondering, Nancy, is how do you make sure that that team, I mean the team is critical from everything that I'm hearing from you. How do you make sure they have the time, you know, obviously you're pulling people in who already have their own responsibilities, but also that right skill set, you know, you mentioned that we need different skills across the board, so how do you ensure that?

Nancy Seaboldt 35:47 

Yeah, I'm glad you asked that, Lori, because with allocating the time. So the team members themselves, let's talk about the skill set, right? So you need to have some natural leadership skills in order to champion for their department. So they may not be the manager of the department, but it may be somebody who you see as, you know, ultimately being in that role.

So somebody who's maybe developing into that role, but you just have some natural leadership skills because they're going to, they're going to need to lead that department, be the change agent for that department when the system goes in and be the go-to person. So leadership, great communication skills are really important as well because you know, they need to be able to, like we said before, right, relate to their audience and, and bring them along and make sure that their department is successful in this new, new world. 

Lori Boyer 36:38 

I love, I just had to break in. I love how you said that it doesn't have to be the manager. Because occasionally the manager may be, for instance, if you're a certain, you know, department that's very tech, you know, heavy, or maybe they don't have those right kind of gather the team and get everyone behind you kind of personality. 

And I have been on a team before where somebody was just such a leader on the team and held no management role. But this person was really able to just kind of get everyone together and kind of get everyone on board. Had those communication skills, had those, as you put it, leadership skills. So I love that you pointed that out. I would guess you go to the manager of the team and say who do you think is the right person? Maybe it is the manager, but it's not always. So anyway, I just love that you said that. 

Nancy Seaboldt 37:23 

And then the other thing I think that you brought up is, you know, the allocation of time. So an ideal project, somebody's taken out of their role, a hundred percent dedicated to their project, singular focus doesn't happen from my perspective.

It just doesn't happen. You know, that's, you know, that's ideal. But. There does need to be some consideration from, you know, from the, you know, department heads who define who these people are going to be and, you know, when allocating them to the project. There needs to be some give and take.

They need to be allowed time to focus and do this right. And that may mean backfilling for part of their job or, you know, spreading their workload around so that they can have some time to focus on the project. And then be realistic about it because you're just going to add stress to that person.

They're just not going to, you know, be happy because they're just going to be overworked. So there's got to be some compensation for that. You know, some, you know, consideration, I should say. And then, you know, if you do take them out of their role or, you know, let's say they're a, a buyer and they're compensated on their gross margin and you're going to be taking part of their job away from them, how are you going to help offset that compensation?

And that's, you know, we've seen, you know, that's something to consider too is, making sure that the person is whole at the end of the day and, you know, feels taken care of and is, you know, it adds to the excitement about being part of this team and taking them into the new world, if you will. 

Lori Boyer 39:01 

So, I want to add, I, that was just. You were bringing up, my husband has recently, he works at a very large manufacturing company, he's in a tech role. And they recently moved all their systems from, they'd bought out another company, right? And it was a huge year-long project. And he had those exact expectations, where he needed to be working on this transition while still, of course, running this stuff in the business.

He needs to do it. And I think one thing that their team did really well was making sure it was clear that it was a focus, that it was important this implementation. And that it wasn't you know, like a side thought you know, second thought that it wasn't second fiddle. Yeah. 

Nancy Seaboldt 39:43 

You know, if you have an hour extra of the day. 

Lori Boyer 39:45 

Exactly, because then it just felt so stressful. So I think that what you were saying with that, it is so critical and making him not feel extra pressured because he was spending time on that because that was a priority. So okay. Anything else would you like to sum up? I've heard so many great things today. So I'm going to share. You had your hot takes at the beginning and completely were right.

Number one, communication, that soft skill is so critical to the overall success. Two, you talked about it needing to come from upper management, the executive team. You have got to, that role plays a gigantic part in the success. And three, that this wasn't a tech change. That this is a business change. I thought all of those were really insightful, but anything else you want to sum up for us today?

Nancy Seaboldt 40:35 

Yeah, I think you know, just make sure that, you know, the implementing the new ERP. It should be considered transformational. Avoid just replicating what's done today to keep the status quo. And consider your business growth as well as industry best practices. I think we talked a little bit about avoiding customization.

Don't, because that'll, that'll just keep you stuck on the same system for years and years and years. So you know, these new cloud-based systems really kind of are geared towards not being customizable and, and allowing the flexibility to take upgrades and keep on that upgrade path. 

Lori Boyer 41:11 

We got to be brave. We got, we got to put on our, our big boy and our big girl pants and, and be willing to try something new. 

Nancy Seaboldt 41:18 

And you're not the only one implementing this system. These systems have been implemented for a lot of different other companies and incorporate best practices. So really consider what the, how the core system operates and, you know, what those best practices are and how they can be adopted by your organization.

Lori Boyer 41:36 

Okay. And I'm going to throw out there as well, final best practice, bring in someone like Nancy. I mean, that's what Nancy lives and breathes. She's a consultant that comes in and helps companies like you get all of this done so that you don't end up, you know, three years later reaching out to Nancy to say come save us. How can they reach out to you Nancy? What, you know, if they're looking for that? 

Nancy Seaboldt 41:59

Yeah, so Summit Advisory Team. We have experienced team members who have been in business and technology roles as part of ERP implementation. So they've been part of these, you know, in the past and successful in helping other organizations do it go forward.

So if you're considering a change. We'd love the opportunity to discuss your objectives, where you want to go, and share our experiences so we can help you get there. 

Lori Boyer 42:23

Awesome. That's perfect. And are you on LinkedIn or anything? Can people follow you, reach out to you there? 

Nancy Seaboldt 42:29 

Absolutely. Yep. LinkedIn. 

Lori Boyer 42:31 

Perfect. I'll include that link in the bottom. Thank you so much for being here. I really learned a lot. Got me excited. I hope someday I, I'm a, I'm a SME and a subject matter expert that they put on an ERP implementation team. And I'll use all the things I learned. 

Nancy Seaboldt 42:46 

Oh, sounds good, Lori. Give me a call.

Lori Boyer 42:49

Okay. And I'll definitely give you a call. That sounds perfect. Thanks again for being here. Have a great day, everybody.