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The illusion of chronological completeness, before awareness

A mirage in the desert

Many think that IT evolution in a firm is a very chronological stepwise approach where every step must be completed before going to the next one. And up to a certain point, there are right!

For example, it seems natural to make sure the accounting system is duly functioning and populated before extracting data from it to build ratios and analyses.

But beyond a certain point, sticking to that rule can delay the capacity of the management to have a decision-helping/making application, whatever its form is. And you shouldn't wait for promises of integration.

In order to make the case more concrete and more contextualised, let's take a particular situation, and analyse it: an industrial firm with entities on different continents, where some share one of various common ERPs (let's call each group of entities sharing the same ERP, an "ERP cluster"), while each of the other remaining firms has implemented a local/specific solution. And the goal is to build a financial decision-making tool at the end.

Let's drill-down the case into its elements, to show you what we mean by illusion of chronological completeness...

1 - System intregation into a single environment

This is typically a situation where waiting for a full integration of the group into the same ERP system is simply an illusion, even more when the entities have had a previous life before being integrated in the same group, which means each firm or cluster has habits and usages that would require a substantial common denominator before engaging into "integration".

According to research and reports on this research, 55% to 75% of ERP implementations fail to meet their objective. So, imagine when there is an institutional complexity of systems on top.

On top of the feasibility and effort required, there might also be very practical reasons: for example, some countries have very specific systems because tax regulation is very specific. Thus, there is a lot to waste/lose with a one-size-fits-all solution.

In that case, an intermediary consolidation system might be a very good choice, bringing a protocol or common language that can be based on the terms of the main ERP. It is all a question of the level where you want to operate the integration, deep-down or slightly higher to overcome the too local constraints.

2 - Some data vs. all the data

3 - Motivation to pursue, and continue digging deeper later

4 - A good architecture for the managerial layer is key

5 - Keep an eye on quality limitations of the data and how it flows into the results

6 - Less stress

The analogy of the question raised in this article is an automotive firm waiting to see what will be the winning technology before going forward in its development, electric batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, not realising that this is not about perfection but about being the first in adressing new ideas.

looking at the oasis at the end of the desert

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