According to Gartner 75 percent of all IT implementations fail. This is staggering. I have been in the IT industry for over 18 years and daily I read articles on failed ERP projects and it makes for depressing reading.
What bothers me the most is that the failed implementations give the entire industry I work within a bad name. We are all tarred with the same brush, when in reality the fault can lay either with the software vendor or the client – or on occasion, both.
During my time in the industry I have yet to have a project fail. And it is not because I am a miracle worker – quite the opposite really. My approach is quite simple and it involves open and clear communication throughout the entire process – including before and after implementation.
Over the years I have learnt to look out for the warning signs during the selling process and walk (or in many cases run) away from clients who do not have a clear understanding of their own requirements.
Why? Because if the client does not understand their requirements this spells trouble from the outset; and if the salesman sees nothing but his commission payment this can be even bigger trouble.
Below are a few tips to help you succeed in your ERP implementation:
- Before engaging your software vendor take the time to internally analyse the intended improvements your new solution will bring to your organisation. Keep your requirements realistic and look for the biggest wins.
- Once you have your requirements identified, ensure you document and communicate them with all key stakeholders. If they feel part of the process they can contribute and in the long-run hopefully have buy-in of the new system.
- Ensure your shortlisted software solution fits your identified requirements. You are looking for software but equally important is a solution provider who understands your requirements and can demonstrate a fit. The product should deliver the majority of the functionality from their standard software. Focus on your fit rather than the sales pitch!
- Have realistic expectations of the project. Often the sales representative is put under pressure to win the business for the lowest possible cost. You need to be practical and realise that if it too expensive then perhaps it’s the wrong solution. Do not try and reduce project management, system documentation or end user training. Failure to budget adequate time, money, resources, and external consulting support is the quickest way to turn your project into a failure.
- Ensure there is representation at board level in the form of a Project Sponsor. This role will involve defining clear implementation objectives, establishing project governance and making tough decisions when needed. It also ensures the board understands the process and steps being taken.
- Put together a team that includes someone who has experience in undertaking implementations of ERP software solutions. As Gartner stated, ERP implementations are more prone to failure than success, so try to stack the odds in your favour.