When you invest in an enterprise resource planning solution and an ERP implementation partner that assists in rolling it out, you’re investing in the future success of your business. If that’s the case, why do so many ERP implementations – between 55% and 75%, according to polling done by Gartner –  fail? Truth be told, it often isn’t the business adopting the ERP solution that’s the problem; the fault often lies with the company that’s performing the ERP implementation. By failing to take the time to listen to the needs of their clients, achieving ERP implementation success is frequently doomed from the very beginning. 

At the TM Group, ERP implementation failure isn’t in our vocabulary. In addition to getting to the bottom of our clients’ challenges – whether it’s within the company or more high-level problems that are associated with the industry – we put the right pieces, testing procedures and fail-safe mechanisms in place at the outset to ensure ERP implementation success from start to finish. Before we discuss some of the details of The TM Group’s ERP implementation approach, it’s important to identify why ERP implementations fail as often as they do. 

What prevents ERP implementation success?
The reasons for ERP implementation failure are as wide-ranging as the purposes for adopting or replacing the system in the first place. Sometimes, new ERP system implementations are unsuccessful due to a combination of things rather than one cause more than another. They may include:

  • Ineffective project manager
  • Unrealistic expectations 
  • Insufficient implementation budget
  • Poor communication 
  • Resistance or reluctance to change from a legacy system.
  • Lack of oversight from relevant stakeholders
  • Overreliance on the ERP implementation partner
  • No or minimal planning
  • No on-site testing
  • Failure to explain to staff why change is necessary 
  • Leaving oversight of the project to solely the IT department 
  • Unqualified implementation partner

These are just the most common causes of implementation failure; it’s far from being an exhaustive list. Several of these issues can only be corrected by the ERP implementation partner, which is why an enterprise resource planning project may be destined for a poor result if you choose the wrong solutions provider or project team. But there are a number of best practices your business can take to avoid these and other ERP project pitfalls. As you’ll see, many of the actions are done well before you start narrowing down which ERP consulting partner is the best fit to perform the implementation: 

Create a committee
While an ERP implementation partner is the one that’s configuring the solution to help improve business processes, an ERP consulting firm can’t do this on its own. Any ERP project must be done collaboratively so the implementation can be adjusted, configured and customized accordingly. That’s why forming an ERP system selections committee is a smart move. Composed of relevant stakeholders from different departments, a systems committee will help your business keep tabs on the ERP project so ERP implementation success is a more likely outcome.

Perform an audit
It isn’t enough to believe an alternative ERP software solution is appropriate; you have to know what about your current ERP software system is preventing you from reaching your goals. Having an internal audit done on what you’re using now can accurately highlight in what areas your business is lacking. Getting to the bottom of this should be one of the primary responsibilities of the ERP system selections committee, which is another reason why picking the right people is key (i.e. hardworking, enterprising, detail-oriented, etc.). 

Define success
Similarly, your business needs to define what ERP implementation success means. This is determined by fully appreciating what your goals are as a company, what problems are preventing you from reaching your objectives, and knowing your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Once this is done, the committee should put pen to paper, writing down the benchmarks that will determine whether an ERP project went well.

Do your research
Once the committee has an understanding of what will make an ERP project successful, the next step is to start reaching out to potential ERP partners. You or your ERP selection committee may have a specific ERP partner in mind, but it’s important to be open-minded about which one is best for your needs. Going into the process with preconceived notions about one partner over another can compromise the project before it starts. Thus, reach out to a wide variety of software providers and partners to request that they provide you with a comprehensive overview of what makes them uniquely qualified to be your business’ ERP provider.  

Narrow down your options
Deciding which ERP solution and implementation partner is best can be the hardest part of all, especially when there are literally dozens to choose from and your software agnostic. This is another reason why the people who you pick to be on your ERP systems selections committee are key. The members should first gain a solid grasp of ERP technology and the providers that are out there doing a brief Request for Information (RFI). Asking the right questions will help the committee decipher which solutions and partners deserve a second look based on their answers. Before doing full blown demos and giving vendors access to interview the selection committee, this list of possible solutions should be narrowed down to three or four solutions. 

Establish benchmarks
From detailing their years of experience in ERP implementation and consulting to citing testimonials from highly satisfied former clients in a variety of industries, an ERP solution provider ought to establish their qualifications and expertise as to why they’re the best pick to configure your next ERP system. One of the ways ERP software vendors substantiate their claims is with a demonstration. This allows them to show you why they’re the best. 

This is another aspect where benchmarks need to be established. In other words, what does the software need to convey for you to pick them over everyone else? You or your committee may even want to make these expectations clear to ERP vendors during the early portion of the vetting process. The vendor’s response can help to eliminate options if their solution isn’t designed to address the challenges of your business. 

Pick from two
Ideally, try to narrow down your ERP providers to just two after the initial demonstrations. This will not only make the selection process more straightforward, but it will be easier from a standpoint of follow-up, like arranging on-site discovery meetings if those are necessary. You can treat the selection process like an employer would for a job interview. In short, once there is a first round of “interviews,” which vendors will get to round 2? 

Ask questions as they come up
When it comes to ERP implementation, there are no silly questions; your vendor should feel the same way and communicate this to you in the course of the vetting process. Thus, if at any point the committee has a question, members should reach out to the appropriate people on the ERP implementation team that can answer it. How they respond to those questions can be another metric you use to examine if the software partner is worthwhile. It speaks to their ability – or inability – to communicate and their desire or eagerness to work on your behalf. If the answer to your question(s) doesn’t satisfy your expectations, tell them why. 

Make a collective decision
Once all of your committee members’ questions have been answered and you’ve obtained all the relevant details that speak to the partner’s experience and capabilities, the last step is coming to a decision. Depending on who the stakeholders are in the ERP selections committee, the firm and ERP package you select should be unanimous. 

A shared decision ensures the entire committee is behind the selection and it also eliminates the potential for dissatisfaction or resentment if one member feels strongly about going in a different direction. If there is a holdout, that person should clarify the reasons for their objections. The committee can then determine how to overcome the impasse (e.g. vote, discussion, listing the positives and negative attributes of each ERP software vendor, etc.)

Tips to choose the right ERP system partner
So you know what preparatory measures establish the environment for ERP implementation success. But how do you pick the right partner? Here are a few general guidelines to go by:

Seek out knowledgeable partners
Experience may be the most important factor in evaluating the right ERP software partner. However, they shouldn’t just be knowledgeable in ERP technology; they should also have a background in your industry. If they do, then they’re likely to have the ERP software modules that address the challenges inherent to your industry.  

Be inflexible about flexibility
Because of the vastness of ERP implementation projects, they can affect the ongoing affairs of your business. But they shouldn’t be so disruptive as to significantly alter your business process operations. In other words, the implementation team should adjust to you, not the other way around. Flexibility is something you should insist on. Additionally, the ERP solution itself should be fully customizable so you can swap in and out the features that you want and don’t. 

Insist on convenience
Being open to change is a key component to ERP implementation success, but your current business processes may not be replaceable. Thus, during initial contact, you may want to ask about their implementation approach to see how it deals with defining mission critical business processes and ensuring they are addressed during the implementation.. 

Opt for ‘show’ more than ‘tell’
It’s one thing for an ERP system partner to tell you about what makes their solution great, but the best way to convey its excellence is to demonstrate it. It’s a classic case of a picture saying a thousand words. A demo can give you the visibility you need to determine if their solution is as good as they say it is. 

Look for evidence that they value relationships
There is a reason why an ERP implementation partner is called a “partner”: They’re part of the project, by working with your committee. During the vetting process, it should be clear from the outset that they value relationships as much as you do. Whether it’s through the awards the company has received or repeat business, a partner that prioritizes relationships is invested in your success and your definition of it as it pertains to ERP implementation. 

Choose The TM Group
As a Microsoft ERP solutions vendor since the 1980s – The TM Group can say with 100% certainty that Microsoft Dynamics is one of the best ERP software on the market today, but even more important than choosing the right ERP software is choosing the right partner. And The TM Group is the most qualified partner to deliver ERP implementation success. Our confidence derives from our experience and our track record. Combined, we have over a thousand years of cumulative team experience, with over two dozen software consultants who are fully certified in CRM and ERP solutions. Additionally, unlike some vendors, which cater only to certain industries or sectors, over the years we’ve helped businesses with cloud ERP and other needs in just about every discipline, including manufacturing, distribution, family offices, field services, foundations, retail, insurance, financial services, automotive, hospitality and entertainment.  

Because of how long we’ve been in business, The TM Group has ERP implementation success down to a science and has a dedicated Project Management Team. From a dedicated Client Relationship Success program that’s devoted to each client’s goals, to running a series of testing procedures that ensures the functionality of the platform is running as expected (e.g. system testing, integration testing, stress testing, user acceptance testing, etc.), we leverage every available consulting and development resource to achieve the goals of our clients. In short, ERP implementation failure isn’t an option. 

Furthermore, The TM Group has received several awards over the years, which speak to our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. Account Technology Magazine and Inc. are some of the organizations that have recognized our accomplishments besides our many Microsoft partner awards  (e.g. Dynamics Sales Excellence Award, Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Award, etc.).

Our mission statement at The TM Group is “Empowering organizations and people with technology.” Let The TM Group empower your organization and staff. Contact us today to learn more. You can also take a look at some of our project profiles to assess our clients’ needs and how Microsoft Dynamics software delivered on those needs.