Why Selecting an ERP System Is Like a 12-Step Recovery Program

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So, I was looking over this article, and it suddenly occurred to me that there are uncanny similarities between AA’s 12-step program and the ERP selection process.

Is your business on the road to recovery? Find out!


Step 1
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable."

ERP selection translation: For “alcohol,” substitute “broken business processes” (by extension, for “alcoholics,” read “employees”).

Step 2
"... came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

ERP selection translation: For “Power,” substitute "project team."

Step 3
"... made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

ERP selection translation: Creating the business case for a new ERP system. For “God,” substitute “ERP system.” [Warning: do NOT substitute “CEO” for “God.” That’s just foolishness.]

Step 4
"... made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

ERP selection translation: Interviewing your stakeholders.

Step 5
"... admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

ERP selection translation: Business process modelling, part 1—defining your "as is" processes.

Step 6
"... were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

ERP selection translation: Business process modelling, part 2—defining your "to be" processes.

Step 7
"... humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

ERP selection translation: Sending your RFI to system vendors.

Step 8
"... made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."

[Note: Applicable to CRM systems only]

Step 9
"... made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."

ERP selection translation: [redacted by Legal Department]

Step 10
"... continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."

ERP selection translation: Reducing your customization requirements.

Step 11
"... sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out."

ERP selection translation: For “prayer” and “meditation,” substitute “scripted vendor demos.”

Step 12
"... having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

ERP selection translation: User training.


Sadly, selecting an ERP system requires a number of additional steps that AA doesn't address. Find out more. And for the record: AA’s 12 Steps.

Oh, and our sales department will kill me if I don’t insert a plug for our ERP Evaluation Center. Here. Note: It's only as anonymous as you make it. For best results, you may wish to define your requirements explicitly and accurately.
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