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The road to ERP failure is paved with good intentions. No organization goes into an IT project of that scope, cost and importance without being pretty darned confident in its ERP implementation plan and the resources marshaled to oversee it. But, as executives from Hershey’s, Lumber Liquidators, Waste Management, Overstock.com and any other organization that has suffered the devastation of an ERP implementation failure would probably tell you, good intentions won’t deliver a functioning enterprise solution to your doorstep. So, let’s look at it from another angle. Forget success, here are ten tips to ensure ERP failure:

  1. Pick the same ERP software vendor your competitors did. After all if it works for them, it should work for you.
  2. Make sure the software fits your business as it is today, not as you want it to look in the future. Figuring out all that business process and supply chain stuff is boring. Stick with what you know. Trying to improve operations will only lead to disaster.
  3. Only look at the big three ERP software vendors. A lot of other people like them so you’ll probably like them too. And definitely ignore anyone who talks about this “on the cloud” or “in the cloud” or “near the cloud” business. No thank you!
  4. Say no to software customizations. Out-of-the-box software that was probably originally designed for some other company in some other industry will be perfectly fine. No need to reinvent the wheel here; it’s just a company. 
  5. Keep upper-level management out of it! No one wants to hear what the suits think about the company or their vision for where it’s going, especially not in relation to a software system. Bo-ring. Their involvement will only make people think this ERP thing is important or something. Best for them to stay quiet.
  6. Cross organizational change management — whatever that is — off the budget. Those are your employees and they’re going to do exactly what you tell them to do when you tell them to do it. And that’s final.
  7. While you’re at it, cross training off too. Computers have been around for years; how hard can it be to learn new ERP software? Hit the books or hit the bricks.
  8. Don’t hire any help; work your staff to the bone to get this done in time and on budget. Make sure they not only get this system up and running but finish all their other work too. Burn out? What’s that? They should be happy you think so highly of their capabilities.
  9. Go live on your go live date no matter what. It’s very important you reach this milestone so even if you haven’t gotten around to training or big parts of the ERP system still aren’t quite right, just switch the whole thing over and go! Don’t worry about your customers; they’ll understand if things are a little “wonky” for a little while.
  10. Sit back and watch the cash come in. Congratulations! You’ve chosen and implemented an ERP software system! Your work here is done! So many have failed at this same exact job, but not you! You did it! And all of your high expectations were right on the money; not only is your company number one in the universe, but you’ve also won the McArthur Genius Award. The time to rest on your laurels is now.
If ensuring an ERP failure isn’t exactly what you had in mind, download Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation from our Resource Center for some more productive and proactive steps to take. And please comment if you have any tips of your own (for either failure or success)!

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