True Grit

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A long time ago when a man was a man, a woman was a woman and a horse was, well, a horse there came along a real hero. His name was Rooster Cogburn, played by John Wayne in the original version of the classic western movie True Grit. Rooster is a tough marshal who decides to help a woman get even for her father’s death. Basically her problem becomes his problem. Ok, I may have simplified the plot somewhat, but I’m not a movie critic and I wouldn’t want to spoil an evening’s viewing entertainment by giving away all the fun.

Sometimes you have to take a stand and do what you think is right, especially if it’s one of your customers. Doing the right thing is sometimes what ERP* vendors have to do to protect their brands. And that can occasionally mean getting intimately involved with implementations when things are getting a little out of hand. The media is quick to publish articles about implementations that have spectacularly failed, and often will point to this or that software as being the problem. But who is really at fault? Is it the customer for not using the software correctly? The implementer who failed to listen to the customer’s needs? Perhaps it’s the ERP vendor who oversold the solution – as if that ever happens!

It’s too late after the event to start finger-pointing (although that can be fun too, especially if you think you’re not at fault) because that doesn’t really resolve anything. But there comes a point, I think, when the ERP vendor should step in and try to salvage the situation, even if the vendor is not obviously or directly at fault.

In other industries the manufacturer is forced to take steps to resolve product or distribution problems. Toyota is a good example of a company that became heavily involved (remember those recalls?) in resolving complaints about brakes; they didn’t just leave the problem with their distributors to sort out.

Mistakes can happen and they do. ERP implementations can be complex and full of pitfalls. That’s why I think it’s the vendor’s prerogative to get directly involved in customer implementations when things are going pear-shaped and there appears to be no resolution. If you’re a customer looking for a new ERP solution, then make sure your ERP vendor will take ultimate responsibility for your system.

True grit? As an ERP vendor you need to decide when to make a customer’s problems your problems and not shy away from that responsibility. Perhaps what we need is Wyatt Earp (or ERP?) to ride into town to sort out the good guys from the bad ‘uns.

*ERP – What’s in a name? Just 3 letters, it turns out. Enterprise Resource Planning. There, now you know.

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