A project manager can influence the entire course of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) project.

While a successful leader will guide the project toward the right checkpoints, ensuring that everyone has access to the resources they need, a less adept leader might make a few missteps along the way. When this happens, it could derail the project and even cause it to fail altogether.

Today, we’re sharing eight of the most common mistakes project managers make that can lead to ERP failure

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8 Mistakes Project Managers Make

1. Pressing Ahead Without a Strategy

Before investing in a new ERP system, project managers must ensure strategic alignment when it comes to short- and long-term organizational goals. 

With clear goals, an organization can take an honest look at current processes and decide which workflows could benefit from the automation that ERP platforms provide. The organization can also identify which processes need to be reengineered to align with organizational goals. 

By overlooking strategic alignment, the project team could end up automating the very processes that were slowing down the company in the first place.

A strong project manager knows that this alignment is critical, and they don’t rush into the ERP selection phase.

2. Failing to Actively Participate

One of the most common ERP project manager mistakes has to do with responsibility.

This isn’t a hands-off position that someone can handle from afar. Rather, a project manager should be actively involved in every step of planning, selection, and implementation and should remain visible at all times.

A few of their core duties include:

  • Assigning roles and responsibilities
  • Managing the budget and timeline
  • Keeping teams on task
  • Answering questions and delegating activities

It sometimes makes sense for the project manager to treat the ERP project like its own mini-company as they take on the role of CEO. When visualized this way, it becomes evident how important the effort is and what’s at stake.

3. Rushing the Timeline

We live in a fast-paced digital world where everyone wants everything done yesterday. Yet, you simply can’t rush an ERP implementation

Project managers should recognize that these initiatives are complex, and they should create a realistic schedule that accounts for all essential components. 

That said, there’s no reason for the project to take longer than necessary. We recommend involving end-users as much as possible so it’s easier (and quicker) to determine requirements, conduct testing, and identify issues.  

4. Not Assessing the Market

It’s easy for project managers to get caught up in their internal office environments. This is especially the case when they’re working on something as transformative as an ERP software implementation

However, they should also take the time to turn outward and stay current in the company’s industry. This means researching new technologies and innovations and understanding what competitors are doing. This is critical to understanding how the ERP investment fits into the company’s bigger picture.

5. Skipping Organizational Change Management

One of the biggest ERP implementation mistakes that a project manager can make is to skip or rush organizational change management (OCM). 

From an employee’s perspective, implementing an ERP solution is overwhelming. With OCM, project managers can put steps in place to curb resistance, answer questions, and address concerns. 

Many of these activities center on end-user training, which helps employees learn new processes and get a grasp on the new technology. 

6. Being Unorganized and Unstructured

If a project manager slacks off, everyone will feel it. Meetings will run long, and they won’t stay on topic. Deadlines will get missed and assignments will overlap.

In other words, chaos will ensue. A strong project manager knows how to keep everything and everyone in order, and that starts with themselves. 

7. Transferring Bad Data

An ERP system is only as robust as the data that powers it. If a project manager allows bad or incomplete data to move into the new system, its usability will be limited. 

To prevent this, project managers should establish a data migration plan that ensures data integrity throughout the project. This way, they can ensure that the data that enters the system can actually be used to enhance operational visibility and improve decision-making. 

8. Stopping After Go-Live

A project manager’s work doesn’t end when the team reaches that coveted go-live date. Rather, it’s only beginning! 

From there, they need to continually measure benefits realization, and conduct a slew of other post-implementation activities.

For one, they must implement a maintenance strategy that outlines the steps required to upkeep and improve the system on a regular basis.

Without this strategy, the software could become outdated or even obsolete. By staying up-to-date on version upgrades and new releases, companies can extend the ROI on their investment.  

Avoid These Mistakes​

While these are eight of the most common mistakes project managers make, they aren’t the only pitfalls to avoid. There are many other ERP failure reasons to be aware of.

By avoiding these mistakes, your project manager can lead your company toward a successful digital transformation, one decision at a time.

Along the way, our independent ERP consultants can help you keep your project on track. Contact us below for a free consultation.

About the author

As Director of Panorama’s Expert Witness Practice, Bill oversees all expert witness engagements. In addition, he concurrently provides oversight on a number of ERP selection and implementation projects for manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and public sector clients.

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