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According to our 2013 ERP Report, 61% of organizations report experiencing an ERP implementation duration overage. Looking on the bright side, a duration overage means a new deadline which means more time to complete the project and do the job right. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen and, for many organizations, extended deadlines just mean more time to procrastinate.

After working furiously for the last month to prepare for the ERP implementation go-live date, your ERP project team decides that the go-live date is too ambitious. Your organization extends the deadline to give the team a few extra months, thinking the additional time will lead to better results. As it turns out, the project team decides to devote a minimal amount of time to the project during the first two months and wait until the final month to really get serious when the pressure’s on again.

While extended deadlines are not ideal to begin with, organizations that manage this additional time wisely can make considerable improvements to their implementation plan. Following are three tips for motivating project teams during procrastination-inducing reprieves:

1.   Emphasize the nearness of the new deadline. Studies have shown that the closer people get to achieving a goal, the more fervently they pursue it. If the go-live date suddenly moves from one month away to three months away, it’s only natural for a team’s motivation to decrease. To minimize this natural response, organizations should ensure their project teams know just how quickly these three months can fly by.

2.   Plan for potential risks. When extending a deadline, organizations should determine the length of the new timeline by anticipating all of the challenges that could arise. Addressing organizational change management and business process reengineering takes time and this should be built in to the new timeline in order to avoid another extended deadline.

3.   Establish interim goals along the way. Since people naturally work harder when a deadline is closer, interim deadlines can help motivate project teams when the ultimate goal appears distant. Organizations should make these interim deadlines meaningful to motivate project teams that think missing a deadline is “no big deal.”

If your organization has no choice but to extend its ERP implementation deadline, there is still hope for ERP success. Organizations should take advantage of extended timelines and motivate their project teams to do so as well.

Learn more by watching our free, on-demand webinar, The Path to ERP Implementation Planning.