An ERP implementation or upgrade project is a significant investment of time, money and resource, so the last thing you want is for it to be considered a “failure”. What success looks like when it comes to an ERP project may differ from organisation to organisation, but failure can usually be considered to be as a result of unrealistic timescales, budget overspend, and lack of real return on investment.
There are a number of common pitfalls many organisations may fall into when completing an ERP project. Here are 4 of them, and some tips on how to avoid or address them.
Project scope creep
The scope of a project can naturally increase steadily over time, as more complexity is added and more people make requests for features. Scope creep of this nature can add months to the timeframe of an ERP implementation, and put your go-live date into uncertainty and obscurity. This puts the project in serious danger of not only running over on time, but also running over on budget. Budget overspend can put the project at risk of being reigned in, delayed, or even pulled completely in some extreme cases. Really, the best way to avoid scope creep is to set out a very clear end-goal at the beginning of the project, and put in place a strong project leader to ensure that this is always at the forefront of decision-making. They should consistently be asking “does feature request x or development tweak y help us achieve our goals?” This person could be internal, or perhaps an external consultant.
Lack of end-user adoption
This has got to be one of the most common pitfalls we see businesses fall into after a significant ERP upgrade or implementation project. Getting end-users on-board and using the new solution to its full potential can be challenging, and if you end up with a very low adoption rate, then the project cannot really be called a success. You are not going to realise the full value of the solution until end-users accept and run with it. In order to ensure successful end-user adoption, you should engage and involve them early on in the project, asking for their input and feedback on current system usage and what they would like to see from the new system. Keep them updated on progress, and remind them frequently of the go-live date. Once the software has been rolled out, you should put a comprehensive training program in place, and regularly ask for feedback and updates from your users on their experience.
The “silver bullet” perception
Quite often, a business will have been experiencing problems with their existing ERP system, which will have lead them to the upgrade or migration project. They believe that investing in new software will fix many of the business’ inefficiencies, simply because it is newer, faster and comes with all these shiny new features, look! But really, all you are doing here is papering over the cracks. In order to get the most out of an ERP implementation, you should start with process. Without improvements to your core business processes and careful mapping to ERP usage, you cannot hope to carry off a successful project. This analysis exercise can also help you identify areas for streamlining and automation that might have been missed in the last project, or simply were not possibly with the current system. Starting with process is key, and even if you make only minor adjustments, you will have a crystal clear picture of how the new software fits in with what you are doing, and how it will help you achieve your goals.
What about ROI?
Closely linked to the idea of setting goals and being able to measure success is effectively proving a significant return-on-investment (ROI) for the project. Quite often, the combination of lack of overarching strategic project goals combined with overrun in terms of time and budget leads to the senior management team scratching their heads thinking “why did we sign off on this again?” Demonstrating ROI can be particularly tricky in the case of a project that has taken upwards of 18 months to complete. By the time your ERP system goes live, resources, budgets and patience has been exhausted, and if it does not start delivering value quickly, it could go down like the proverbial lead balloon. One way to tackle this is to split the project up into manageable chunks and make incremental changes with shorter timeframes. Not only does this reduce the risk of scope creep or overrun on budget, it also allows you to begin demonstrating ROI early on, as you build out the project to its completion.
Bring in the experts
The best way to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with ERP implementation projects is to bolster your team with people who have done it countless times before. Our team of consultants have decades of combined experience seeing out complex implementation projects, both internally and externally. If you would like to discuss an upcoming project, or an ongoing one which needs a helping hand to get over the finish line, get in touch.