ERP solutions are critical to the success of a wide variety of businesses in many industries. With options ranging from Microsoft Dynamics to NetSuite and the value of general and specialized add-ons and modules offered by independent software vendors, there are innumerable options for configuration and use. Despite all of these choices, there’s one experience than can lead to a less unique and more negative outcome: a poor implementation that fails to provide the benefits of ERP software but leaves businesses on the hook for the cost and time spent during the process. Let’s consider some of the most common reasons why an implementation can go wrong:
Not choosing the right ERP partner
ERP implementations simply aren’t practical or feasible for any organization, possibly excepting a few of the very largest in the world, without an experienced partner to help businesses understand which option is best for them, how to configure the software to provide the most benefits and what ISVs match up with widespread or unique business needs. A bad partner can’t or won’t draw on past experience to aid in the implementation process, and post-installation support could be deficient or lacking entirely. While choosing the right business partners is always important, there are few situations where it’s more important than in selecting a new, effective ERP solution.
While poor partner choice is a significant cause of failed implementations, accounting for 36 percent of such issues, according to a review of 22 separate projects by ERP consultancy Software Advice, it’s not the leading one.
Lack of internal planning, change management issues
Businesses need to find an experienced, reliable ERP partner to ensure both the implementation and the relationship going forward are positive and beneficial, but that’s not enough to guarantee a successful installation. Businesses need to be certain they have the right level of acceptance and buy-in for the project from stakeholders of all types, including everyone from frontline employees to executives and shareholders. That sense of positivity is important, but it’s only the first step in a successful approach to change management.
Business leaders have to ensure everyone involved in the implementation, including the IT team and the departments that will regularly interact with the software, have a chance to make their voices heard about the project, its direction, specific ERP needs and desires and other considerations. Training also has to be considered, as a failure to properly organize and execute educational efforts will seriously hinder the effectiveness of a new ERP solution – even if the implementation itself is successful. Forbes suggested timing is crucial in change management efforts to present major alterations to business practices in a way that both gives people time to prepare and demonstrates as many positives of the new solutions and processes as possible.
ERP projects do not involve the implementation of relatively isolated software on a couple computers – it’s a far more complicated process that ultimately yields many more benefits. However, it also takes much more time than installing word processing or bookkeeping software. Businesses have to be realistic in terms of timetables and understand that a longer implementation generally leads to better results. Luckily, a strong ERP partner will provide realistic projections and possibly a phased approach for project timelines that help a business understand how much time it needs to spend on the effort without being unrealistic.