In 2010, I wrote THIS POST, about the importance of getting end users involved very early in the ERP implementation life-cycle and suggested approaches towards achieving that objective. I discussed the benefits of early end user involvement and how it can lead to superior project outcome.
Getting customers involved early in the cycle is tricky. If not handled carefully, it could snowball into extreme customer dissatisfaction about the project and will effectively hinder every phase of the project. Keeping this in mind, the implementation consultant waits till the solution is perfect (which is almost never !) before taking the solution to the end user. That is when end user discovers all the gaps in the solution. And this will lead to delay in acceptance of the solution leading to cost overruns.
If done properly, early end user involvement can reap rich rewards. The obvious benefit is a very strong solution design. Coupled with that you also get customer ownership and quicker decision making.
The key is to man the project with experienced consultants who knows how to build confidence of the customer. Once the customer accepts them as an 'Expert', the job is complete.
Mr.Brett Beaubouef, who owns an acclaimed ERP Blog ERP the right way! , in his post dated 19 May, 2015, makes the same point. (I am a follower of his blog) He bemoans the fact that while end user training is the most important aspect of ERP Implementation, the same is pushed very late in the ERP Implementation Cycle leading to sub-optimal implementation.
I am very unhappy and surprised to see that the point that I made in 2010 is being discussed even now, almost 25 years after ERP burst into the scene. It is a paradox that on the one hand we are talking about ERP being a 'Commodity' and on the other talk something as mundane and common sense as 'End user training and involvement'.
When will we learn?