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Over years of being an ERP expert witness, I’ve had the opportunity to examine, analyze and testify in court on all types of implementation failures.

I’ve been an expert witness for SAP implementations, Oracle projects, Microsoft Dynamics transformations and a host of other solutions as well. In addition to these expert witness engagements, we’ve also helped countless companies recover their failed implementations before they reach the lawsuit stage.

Having a front row seat to ERP disasters provides a unique understanding of what makes projects fail. More importantly, it helps us better understand what it takes to succeed in an ERP implementation. Rather than focusing on the negative failure points, it is often more constructive to look at the things that you should be doing to be successful.

Below are five best practices from our expert witness experience that will help you be more successful in your digital transformations:

Begin with realistic expectations

Many failed projects were caused by unattainable timelines and/or budgets, while our most successful clients begin with realistic expectations and adjusted them (as needed) during the project. ERP software vendors may not have (nor are they necessarily incentivized to attain) a realistic view of all the resources, tasks, budgetary line items and internal requirements to make your project successful. It’s important to create a realistic implementation plan, timeline, resource allocations and budget based on your company’s needs. This is an area that independent ERP consultants can help with.

Define and document your business processes and requirements as early as you can

Even though you may not yet have approval to move forward with your entire ERP project, it is important to define and document your business processes in as much detail as you can as early in the project as possible. If you’re able to do so during your evaluation phase, it will only help ensure you have a more complete picture of your evaluation criteria, while allowing you to begin implementing process improvements before the new system is implemented. At the very least, you should document in detail “future state” business processes before your functional and technical resources begin configuring software.

Invest heavily in organizational change management, training and communications

Each project failure I’ve been consulted on failed to effectively manage and prioritize organizational change management. This is no coincidence. Successful project teams realize that there is no such thing as over-investing in people, communication and training. The technical components are probably the least likely reasons for failure. An effective organizational change strategy should include organizational readiness assessments, change impact analyses, benefits realization and a host of other best practices. (Click here to download a white paper on organizational change management best practices).

Don’t hesitate to postpone go-live until your organization is ready

Successful projects don’t treat a go-live date as a “Hail Mary” pass at the end of an American football game. Instead, they are measured, deliberate, and focused on mitigating risk. Even with a realistic implementation strategy early on, you may still find yourself faced with a crucial decision: go-live before I’m ready, or do I delay until the organization is fully prepared? The only way to get to the right answer is to conduct an independent and agnostic go-live readiness assessment to determine the pros, cons, and risks of your pending go-live date. Too often the pressures of a predetermined go-live date or budget may cloud your judgment.

Remember this is your company and your project

At the end of the day, you own the result. It’s not your software vendor’s or your system integrator’s responsibility. It’s also not realistic to completely outsource your project to an outside party without the appropriate oversight, input and accountability. Yes, you should be able to rely on outside experts, but don’t be afraid to pivot if things aren’t going as planned.

An independent ERP consultant can be invaluable in offering up suggestions and/or concerns to keep you on the right path. An “outside” opinion can also be an effective support mechanism for your team, who has been working long and hard. They may benefit from complementary insights that can affect the end project result in a positive way.

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