Implementing a successful ERP system shouldn’t be a challenge, as long as users are well-educated. When ERP systems fail, it is usually the result of completely avoidable mistakes, writes Keith Fenner, VP of sales for Softline Accpac, part of the Sage Group.
These mistakes are typically ones people don’t have to make if they follow some very simple advice. A business doesn’t have to become an unfortunate ERP statistic. When users know what they are doing, they are almost guaranteed to succeed. Preparation and knowledge are key to understanding how to avoid these common ERP mistakes that all too often lead to project failure.
Transfer of ownership
Regardless of how many people are included to help from the ERP vendor or an implementation partner, it still requires a major commitment from the customer. The customer needs to buy in to the new system from the beginning and assist with gaining support from the employees. They are vital as they know the processes and institutional history that makes the organisation successful.
The greater role employees play in the implementation, the higher the likelihood of a successful implementation. This ensures that undocumented knowledge is covered and provides a greater buy-in from the organisation. The kiss of death for a system is if the organisation rejects the changes that the system requires. Conquering cultural issues is mandatory for a successful implementation.
Trying to cut corners
It is only human to want to find the least expensive way of completing any project, including and ERP implementation. But there are some things users just should not skimp on, and this is one of them. Every part of an ERP implementation project has separate and important value, meaning that no part can be eliminated or skipped without affecting the entire project.
While it may be tempting to cut back on maintenance costs or training, doing so is sure to be harmful. In the end, users will be much better off paying the costs up front and avoiding future problems than they will be dealing with a very expensive ERP failure. Remember, these costs are an investment in the future. If handled correctly, they will pay off handsomely when the system proves to be a huge success.
Delaying or eliminating training
Training is one of the most important parts of any ERP implementation project. Think about it this way – people wouldn’t send a bunch of American men out to play in a cricket match, would they? They wouldn’t understand what was happening, they would be unable to participate to the best of their potential and they would no doubt end up getting very frustrated.
ERP is the same. Users need to make sure that their employees are properly prepared to participate in the “cricket match” that is ERP – since, for many employees, it will feel just as confusing at first. Proper training is the best way to reduce employee resistance to change and ensure that every single worker in an operation is ready – even excited – for the go-live.
Having employees who are eagerly anticipating the benefits of ERP is one of the best ways to ensure ERP success. After all, employees are the system’s end-users in most cases – their attitudes can decide its success or failure.
Rushing implementation
Most ERP projects take more than a year to complete – 18 months on average – which excludes the sales cycle, which could take as long as three years. Thinking that an ERP implementation is fast and effortless is a major mistake that many companies make when embarking on their projects. If users want to reap the rewards, they have to be willing to put in the effort.
While the software can be implemented in a matter of days, maybe even hours, getting it to work for the business is an entirely different matter. It is a long and involved process that requires intense dedication.
If they really want to succeed with ERP, they need to commit and understand that the process may take a while, but it will be worth it when they are running a more efficient, profitable business thanks to enterprise resource planning.
ERP failure is 100% avoidable: just don’t cut corners, avoid training and rush the implementation.