Most of my entries in this blog have focused on proactive measures that can be taken to ensure ERP or IT success. However, what happens if you’re already in the middle of a failed ERP implementation?

The good news is that troubled IT implementations can be fixed, even if they are way over budget, behind schedule, and creating great organizational strain. In these types of instances, I often advise clients to reposition their projects as business improvement projects rather than IT projects.

At this point, you have forget about ERP. During or after a failed implementation, the software is likely creating huge difficulties. Just the mere mention of the letters E, R, and P probably cause employees to cringe, so it’s important to focus less on ERP per se and more on how you are going to fix your business operations. With this change in mindset, you use ERP only as necessary to make business improvements to get your organization back on track.

Steps to Fix a Failed ERP Implementation

  1. Assess each area and department of the business that ERP is affecting. What are your key performance measures (order fill rate, time to close books, order accuracy, etc.)? Where are your biggest operational pain points? This will require you to reach out to key business stakeholders to get them involved, if they aren’t already.
  2. Develop two-tiers of potential solutions: stop-gap / “quick fix” solutions and long-term solutions. Determine the costs and time required to implement each of the options.
  3. Prioritize your problem / solution combinations to arrive at the top 5-10 areas where you will realize the most immediate business impact at the lowest cost (low hanging fruit). Many of these solutions may or may not involve ERP functionality. It may require more training of the system, configuring the system to support new solutions. My experience has shown that bussines processes and organizational change management are the most common problem areas in failed ERP projects, so many of your solutions may not even involve changing the system or implementing new functionality.
  4. Begin implementing these low-hanging fruit solutions. The goal should be to build organizational momentum and confidence with these “quick wins.”
  5. Once you get some quick wins in place with the shorter-term solutions, begin prioritizing and implementing your long-term, more permanent fixes the same way you did with your short-term problems.
  6. Begin implementing long-term solutions as time and resources allow.

By following this approach, you will better position your organization to make your troubled implementation a success and optimize the business benefits of ERP.

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