Successful Oracle ERP Implementations in Europe – What’s so Different?
I have over 24 years’ experience with ERP projects in Europe so I have seen a lot. If you are a U.S. based company thinking about deploying a European ERP roll-out, you need to know what makes Oracle implementations in Europe different as compared to U.S. implementations. I have worked in Europe my entire career (based in Germany) employed by both U.S. and European based companies. In this blog post, I will give you some tips on what to consider including in your European implementation strategy so you will know upfront what you need to make it work.
Welcome to Europe
When it comes to Europe, we are talking about 46 countries in total (with 28 in the European Union) and a population of about 700 million people. You can expect people to have varying levels of comprehension of the English language from each country. (Fun fact: There are over 100 different languages spoken in Europe.) Don’t be surprised to work with people who don’t have any English speaking skills at all. The main languages spoken are German, English, Dutch, French, Spanish, and Italian.
With all those different countries come cultural differences as well and you should not take them for granted. Before the project begins, prepare yourself by becoming knowledgeable of the cultural differences of the countries where you will be working.
Let’s start with Some General European Requirements
Within the European community, there are legal and statutory requirements at the European Union level and the country-specific level that cannot be ignored. Each country has different tax rules, tax laws, and tax rates. There are specific European reporting requirements you must take into consideration as well as European financial consolidation. In some countries, you must report to the authorities and the local chart of accounts.
Oracle provides localizations for these European and country-specific requirements but you need to consider the dynamics of the laws because they are quite high. As an example, especially in the Human Resources (HR) area in countries like Germany, they are coming up with new rules related to expenses every year. You need to be flexible and ensure you put a process in place where the system will be able to adjust to handle these dynamic changes. There are the GDPR requirements that were implemented in May 25th to consider as well.
Recommendations for European roll-outs
First: Project Marketing is most important
This needs to happen right from the very beginning of the project. Many times, the U.S. headquartered company would decide that the European subsidiaries have to use Oracle applications as their ERP system, but they would not get buy-in from the European management. I have seen a lot of projects waste a ton of money because this important piece of project planning was overlooked. Take care of Change Management from the very beginning by getting the European Union management on-board. Educate the European project members about the benefits of the Oracle Applications because they can be reluctant to participate if they do not feel involved.
Next: Process Design and Review
The U.S. based company’s interest is to roll out a global footprint but there are always European countries with specific requirements that need to be fulfilled and as part of Change Management. I strongly recommend giving the European management the feeling and confirmation that these local requirements will get support and be put into effect.
For this result, it is very important to run analyzer at the very beginning with standard Oracle but also with consideration with the local requirements. Just remember to keep it simple and involve the key users from each country early at the beginning of the project.
Project Organization is a big deal in Europe
Project Organization is emphasized a lot in Europe. It is a business-driven approach, not an IT or business case-driven approach because everyone in the organization must feel they have ownership. Be flexible and allow for changes in scope and cost. (Especially in scope because the local requirements need to get met for statutory and legal requirements.)
From this project organization perspective, keep in mind the time zone differences. It can be anywhere from a 6 to 9-hour time zone difference between the United States and Europe, depending on the country.
It is so important to use resources who have the local functional skills; they know about the European requirements; they are good Application experts that can map business processes into standard Oracle functionality; they are business experts who can manage the local change well. Again, give the European team the feeling that you understand them, their requirements, and that you will support them.
This is another project component that needs to be addressed at the beginning of the project. There are a lot of reasons and dependencies that favor a phased approach or a milestone-driven approach (a.k.a. big bang). The roll-out plan needs to be detailed about which approach you are going to take and how it will be executed.
This is just a small taste of what you need to know for an Oracle ERP roll-out or upgrade in Europe. I invite you to watch my webinar replay here to learn more about what I recommend for capabilities, specific EU requirements, and country-specific EU requirements.