We recently conducted an ERP poll to identify the factors that ERP experts find to be the most important to successful ERP projects. Based on the findings of the study, here’s what percentage of participants find each of the following the most important success factor.

ERP Success Factors

  • Strong Program Management – 6%
  • Executive Support and Buy-in – 19%
  • Organizational change management and training – 13%
  • Realistic expectations – 8%
  • Focus on business processes – 5%
  • All of the above – 48%

The good news is that it appears that people in the industry realize the importance of each of these items. However, it’s obviously easier said than done since so many ERP projects ultimately fail.

Ways to Make Your ERP Project Successful

  1. Focus on business processes and requirements first. Too often, companies get tied up in the technical capabilities or platforms that a particular software supports. None of this really matters. What really matters is how you want your business operations to run and what your key business requirements are. Once you have this defined, you can more effectively choose the software that fits your unique business needs as part of your ERP software selection process.
  2. Focus on achieving a healthy ERP ROI (Return on Investment), including post-implementation performance measurement. This requires doing more than just developing a high-level business case to get approval from upper management or your board of directors. It also entails establishing key performance measures, setting baselines and targets for those measures, and tracking performance after go-live. This is the only way to realize the business benefits of ERP.
  3. Strong project management and resource commitment. At the end of the day, your company owns the success or failure of a large ERP project, so you should manage it accordingly. This includes ensuring you have a strong project manager and your “A-players” from the business to support and participate in the project. A strong project implementation plan and execution is key to ERP success.
  4. Commitment from company executives. Any project without support from it’s top-management will fail. Support from a CIO or IT Director is fine, but it’s not enough. No matter how well-run a project is, problems arise (such as conflicting business needs), so the CEO and your entire C-level staff needs to be on board to drive some of these
  5. Take time to plan up front. During the software selection process, an ERP vendor’s motive is to close a deal as soon as possible. Yours should be to make sure it gets done right. Too often, companies jump right in to a project without validating the software vendor’s understanding of business requirements or their project plan. The more time you spend ensuring these things are done right at the beginning of the project, the less time you’ll spend fixing problems later on.
  6. Ensure adequate training and change management. ERP systems involve big change for people, and the system will not do you any good if people do not understand how to use it effectively. Therefore, spending time on money on training, change management, job design, etc. is crucial to any ERP project. This should all be included in your ERP organizational change management plan.
  7. Make sure you understand why you’re implementing ERP. This is arguably the most important one. It’s easy to see that many big companies are running SAP or Oracle and maybe you should too, but it’s harder to consider that maybe you don’t need an ERP system at all. Perhaps process improvement, organizational redesign, or targeted best-of-breed technology will meet your business objectives at a lower cost. By clearly understanding your business objectives and what you’re trying to accomplish with an ERP system, you will be able to make a more appropriate decision on which route to take, which may or may not involve ERP.

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