A core problem with ERP implementations is unrealistic expectations about the duration required to go-live with the least amount of business risk and maximum level of business benefits. In fact, according to Panorama’s ERP research, over 90% of ERP projects finish past due. To complicate matters, most ERP software vendors don’t do much to help manage expectations during the initial sales and planning process.
As we’ve posted in other ERP blogs and white papers, implementing ERP is not just about the software; it’s primarily about the business. The areas that most organizations and software vendors forget about when planning for their implementations are:
- Detailed business process workflow definition. This should be done in the context of your organization’s specific processes and requirements, not just according to the generic way that the software works.
- Organizational change management, communications, and training. Organizational change management is more than just training team members and end users how to use the vanilla system. It should focus more on specific business processes, roles, and changes in the as-is vs. to-be processes specific to your business. Many of these messages should be conveyed to employee user groups well before formal training even begins to help work out anxiety and address questions early in the process.
- Benefits Realization. Hopefully, your organization is implementing ERP to positively affect business performance. Assuming this is the case, the only way to ensure you are any better off with a new ERP solution is to define performance metrics and measure performance before and after go-live. No business realizes 100% of potential business benefits from day 1, so it’s important to track the trends and identify where improvements can be made to better operationalize the system.
- Business process testing. We all understand the value of testing the technical and data aspects of a system, but many organizations fail to adequately test their business processes to make sure they have been clearly defined in the new environment. Inevitably, this process will identify operational kinks and decisions that need to be worked out, and focusing only on testing the software itself without leaving time for testing the business processes is a significant risk.
The above are not the only reasons for project delays. Poor management of scope, lack of project support and resources, etc. contribute as well. However, based on our experience, the above are commonly overlooked reasons for project overruns. The best way to avoid such delays are to leave enough time for these activities in your ERP project plan.