CFO of the Year Till Streichert shares successful ERP implementation tips
In the space of just a few years, Till Streichert, CFO of Vodacom Group and this year's CFO of the Year, turned Vodacom’s finance team into a flourishing intelligence unit. He is a textbook example of a finance executive who used the first 100 days of his tenure to make a swift and decisive impact on his organisation.
Following a successful stint at Vodafone Romania, Till moved to the Midrand Campus in 2014. His most pressing issue was to drive the group's "muted" ERP implementation, after Vodacom had gone through a significant and remarkable transformation project: switching its ERP from Oracle to SAP.
"The implementation left some challenges to bed down, which is why I was brought in, as I had overseen such projects in the past."
According to Till, a 90-day improvement plan was put into place in the finance operations area and the processes analytically deconstructed before restructuring. Till says he "showed the door" to all the consultants who were circling the project, keeping the door shut even though he was offered resources to hire help.
"I had the right people in the right places, which was crucial because I had only been at the company for three months and my judgement was more based on a gut feel."
With the ERP system starting to hum, smiles returned on faces behind the desks, at the coffee machines and in the corridors. "Now we've reached a high level of automation with regard to balance sheet controls. Our internal business partners could start doing their jobs properly."
Till shares his top four ERP implementation lessons:
- "Do not underestimate the size of the challenge. It is not just a finance project, but a complex process that involves the entire organisation."
- "Make it a top-three priority. It cannot be number seven or eight on your priority list. It needs to take around 20 percent of your time for about 12 to 18 months."
- "Incredibly good project management is important and finance needs to play a key role."
- "Understand your starting point. When system implementations are sold to you, vendors always begin with where you need to end up, but you first need to really understand your starting point."