Back to the ERP drawing board – 5 lessons CEOs could learn from students

Earlier this year, Guus Krabbenborg, co-founder of QBS Group, delivered a guest lecture at Haagsche Hogeschool for Business Economics students. Discussing the topic of Risk Management in ERP projects, Guus was impressed with the students’ innovative thinking. Here, Guus shares his thoughts and findings on what CEOs could learn from these young students.

Guus lecture

A student’s approach to ERP implementation

For a class of young business economics students, the benefits of ERP for business use are already abundantly clear.

With this in mind, I started my lecture by asking a question that many CEOs and Business Owners struggle to answer; what are the top 5 factors of a successful ERP implementation? As I’ve said, it’s a difficult question, but I was really surprised and impressed with some of the answers that I got from this group of students.

Here are the 5 factors they came up with:

1. The organisation should be motivated to achieve success! And of course, this should start with the board and the senior management team.

2. The board must explain in plain and simple language why the new system will be implemented in order to create enough urgency for the inevitable change process.

3. The organisation should allow the employees enough time to be trained and to get familiar with the new system.

4. The organisation must strive to find only one, well-integrated system in order to prevent sub-systems and everlasting integrations. This will limit complexity.

5. The system of choice needs to be implemented with limited or no customizations at all in order to stay agile and to survive in today's disruptive world.

Food for thought

After the lecture ended, I couldn’t help but wonder how these bright young students had been able to answer a question that I’ve seen so many CEOs struggle with.

Is it because they can simplify the process because they aren’t distracted by the complexities of the day-to-day running of a business? Whilst these students might be slightly naïve to the business world when compared to a CEO, this can clearly work in their favour when it comes to finding simple solutions to complex problems.


Admittedly, the students probably aren’t familiar with the responsibility and dilemmas associated with internal politics, nor do they have to defend the interests of their departments. But perhaps they, as a younger generation, understand that businesses of today can only survive if they invest in great IT solutions. Many current CEOs are so distracted and consumed by their many daily activities that they can’t see the wood for the trees.

Whether you’re a young, professional just starting your own business venture or the head of a multi-national organisation with years of experience, the best thing you can do is properly prepare yourself when it comes to selecting and implementing a new business management software system.

Written by Guus Krabbenborg, Co-Founder of QBS Group.

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