On CA's quarterly earnings conference call Thursday, a Wall Street analyst asked the software company how it was managing its ERP upgrade and whether there were any concerns. It’s a valid question given CA is in the middle of a restructuring.
CA CFO Nancy Cooper outlined the following:
"Let me just kind of walk through where we are in implementing ERP. In April of 2006 we actually implemented it in the United States for financial systems, so that’s live and we have been working it now two quarters. Recently, as recently as the end of October, we implemented it for our Services business in the United States. That was a little more difficult both from a process and a systems point of view and luckily we were able to put in some manual processes, so that we were able to close the quarter adequately. We do have more work to do there. It's not surprising kind of experience when you implement major process and system changes. We will be implementing rolling out SAP in the rest of world starting next year, but this is kind of we go step-by-step on this thing."
These implementations are rarely easy because companies need to rethink business processes–from accounting to human resources to inventory tracking–and then train employees. The big takeaway from CA's comments may be that it pays to have some manual processes as a backup just in case the changeover doesn't go well.
In fact, change management is critical. According to sources, change management was a key reason Symantec's implementation of Oracle's (NYSE:ORCL) ERP applications had problems. It wasn't the software as much as the process mapping. It's not clear what Symantec had for enterprise apps before Oracle, but I'd reckon it was a bit of a rat's nest due to acquisitions (Veritas for instance) and cobbled together systems.