Friday, 13 February 2015 00:00

6 Common ERP Implementation Mistakes

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We have all heard about ERP implementation projects that have failed, gone on long past the planned implementation time, or gone way over budget.  In such circumstances, it is all too easy to blame the vendor or the selection team.  However, normally the fault in these cases lies in the planning and execution of the plan prior to system selection and purchase.  Detailed below are six of the most common mistakes found in ERP implementation projects.

 

1: Poor Planning/Explanation of New ERP

Planning is absolutely necessary if you want your ERP project to succeed. You simply can't Wing ERP implementation. Companies that explain up front the business case for upgrading, the benefits to the company and employees, and any changes in the end user experience are the most successful. The software will work, the hardware will work, but it doesn't matter unless the users buy in. There is nothing more powerful than user perception, and if they decide the system doesn't work, it won't. If you feel you do not have the in-house capability to properly evaluate ERP systems, consider hiring an experienced third-party, vendor-neutral consultant, who has experience implementing ERP solutions at companies in your industry.

2: Not understanding/Using key features of New ERP Software

Without knowing features of the new ERP Software, companies miss opportunities to automate business processes, complete functions faster, and meet business objectives. In addition upgrades, enhancements, and maintenance are more costly, and less likely to succeed. Create a master list with all features, tracking usage, and periodically reviewing the list to determine which features are being used and which are the most helpful. This knowledge catalogue can be used to train new employees, write test scripts, and assist with audit, compliance, and reporting requirements. The only way to determine for sure is to load test the system. The most accurate way to load test a system is with load testing software and scripts and with real users. If you just use scripts, you won't see the effects of user mistakes, and if you just use people, you can't really simulate the effect of batch jobs and EDI. But if you can't do both, pick one and run with it.

3: Not having the right people on the ERP implementation team

Sometimes Companies do not bring the right people together from the very start of an ERP implementation. Companies should focus on gathering key participants from across the staff force, from finance, operations, manufacturing, purchasing, and the warehouse, in addition to IT staff. The benefits: employees who are actively engaged with the ERP implementation, who have an investment in getting it right, right from the start. A lot of customers think they can save money by eliminating the Project Manager and doing it themselves. For an ERP upgrade, this could be fatal. A consultant Project Manager's focus is on upgrades so they know any pitfalls. Navigating these pitfalls ahead of time will make all the difference in an on-time/on-budget ERP Upgrade.

 

4: Not investing in training up Employees on ERP

A lack of proper training is one of the most common reasons that ERP projects fail, and it can also result in employees resenting the new system because they don't understand it. Making sure employees have a chance to become comfortable with the new system before it goes live will do wonders for your chances at ERP success. If you make training and frequent communication with users a top priority, it will hugely benefit the ERP implementation. Classroom training and a Knowledge Vault of recorded videos to help employees to adapt to new ERP Software will go a long way in a successful ERP implementation strategy.

5. Not performing a Mock Go Live of New ERP System

A mock Go Live is the time when you find out whether everything will go as planned ahead of time. It is also the point when you capture timings for all the different Go Live tasks. If you don't practice under the same conditions you'll have when you plan to go live (e.g., if Go Live is on a weekend, mock Go Live needs to be on a weekend), you will run into issues that you never planned for, such as: Do I have access to everything on a weekend? Will we run into backups or maintenance windows? Are the offices open? Some of these may sound trivial, but when you are under pressure and have spent thousands on a new system, the last thing you want is to be delayed because you missed something that was easy to catch.

6. Not having a maintenance strategy

By not applying maintenance, their systems will quickly become obsolete (from a technical perspective) as will their business processes. With improvements in installation technology, customers will experience only limited disruption when implementing support packs. ERP upgrades don't happen every day or every year. So it's important to utilise the most experienced technology consultants to keep your system running during the upgrade. If you're like most companies, you probably have several consultants and internal people working on the project. If it is down all the time, no work is done and money is being wasted. Experienced consultants will know the ERP system and will keep it performing during the ERP upgrade.