An Enterprise Resource Planning rollout is paradigm-shifting…err, right?

It can be. An ERP system can be critical to running your company better; it can help facilitate better communication between previously disconnected departments and more. This only works however if you avoid ERP implementation failure and the system is implemented properly.

Here are some ERP implementation stats to understand the importance of learning from common mistakes:

  • ERPs can reduce operational and administration costs by over 20%.
  • 64% of ERP projects go over budget.
  • 74% of ERP projects take longer than expected.
  • 95% of businesses improve aspects of their processes via an ERP implementation.

Common ERP Implementation Failures and Mistakes to Avoid

ERP implementations are a huge move, and because they are such a massive change—doing things as impeccably as possible is critical. Proper planning and issue avoidance can help reduce costs and shorten the implementation timeline.

So, let’s avoid some of the following common ERP implementation failures and mistakes to keep on track, on budget and have a successful rollout:

Mistake #1: Failure to Define and Plan Goals

Implementing an ERP isn’t just pushing an install button. The implementation needs to be catered to your specific company. Creating a detailed map to outline your goals for the ERP implementation is critical. A well-planned roadmap will help ensure that you get the solution specifics that your company needs, and that you can more easily dismiss impending distractions (because there will be distractions). A detailed plan will also help the implementation team all stay on the same page and function as a cooperative and productive team throughout the process.

A solid roadmap will help you break down the implementation into attainable actions. It can also help ensure that you have the right team in place and that everyone is aligned and working together. Of course, creating a plan for something you’ve never done before is easier said than done, which is why some opt for a professional consultant.

Mistake #2: Insufficient Commitment

Implementing an ERP can help your company streamline processes and achieve goals; however, it is an incredibly involved process. It is also a process that takes anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Ideally, plan for at least a year to implement and iron out the kinks. If you aren’t ready to commit a year to the process, then you either need someone who can speed up and facilitate the process or don’t move forward until you are prepared for the time commitment.

In addition to time, you also need to ensure that you have the right team in place who can dedicate part of their time to the process. Again, the right team working on your ERP implementation is critical.

Mistake #3: Lack of Expertise/Not Finding the Right Leader

You have probably noticed by now that the knowledge and team involved is critical. It is. Without concrete knowledge of ERP systems, your implementation is at a significant disadvantage. While everyone has to undergo their first ERP implementation at some point, the team you appoint should be strategic. You will need a project manager with strong attention to detail and the ability to guide others; then, you will need key business personnel from each of the teams that will be affected.

Of course, you need the right person to spearhead the implementation—but what does that mean? The ideal person to handle the project will have not only impeccable attention to detail, but also someone able to familiarize themselves with day-to-day operations, build solid relationships with multiple departments, have superior organizational skills, is assertive, and can juggle various components and team members.

Mistake #4: Not Setting Milestones

Since your ERP implementation is going to take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, you will need to set milestones. These milestones should be put into two categories: major and minor. Major milestones typically include:

  • Discovery and planning
  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing
  • Deployment
  • Continued support

Within each of those will be mini-milestones. For example, in the planning stage, your mini-milestones will be selecting your team members, your leader, your timelines, assigning roles, etc. Milestones can be key in avoiding ERP implementation failure and will help you keep on track and focused.

Mistake #5: Not Taking Data Migration Seriously Enough

Data migration may be one bullet point on your list of items—but do not underestimate its importance. If you begin with poor data (or poorly formatted data), it’s difficult to come out the other side any better. Junk in, junk out. Meticulously preparing your data, and ensuring the proper importation of it, is one of the most important steps in the whole process. Having your data cleansed to avoid things like duplicates, spelling errors and card details will help your implementation realize the new system’s benefits from the moment it goes live.

Mistake #6: Addressing Fear of Change

While the top-level team may be super excited about the migration to an ERP, various departments and staff affected as end-users may be less than excited. Just like your business, your ERP success is dependent on these people because you could have the best deployment in the world, but if your staff aren’t on board with the changes…it won’t be a smooth or successful transition.

Appoint leaders in every department that the changes will affect, and keep them ‘in the know’ with how the implementation is going and how it will affect their tasks and department. For example, after an ERP goes live, it can change things like employee responsibilities and transparencies. Some may feel threatened by this. Plan for this, and plan early. Host workshops and meetings to let them know the goals of the implementation—and that it isn’t because anyone was ineffective, it is only to make things more effective and to have departments communicate with each other better. It’s about having a system to support them, not replace then, which is likely what most of them want, even if change is scary.

Mistake #7: Not Planning for Post-Launch Maintenance

Deploying an ERP isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution; it’s a living organism. Living organisms change, evolve and improve. Create a plan in the early stages for post-launch maintenance and improvement. Assign teams to gather data about how employees are using the software, what issues they are encountering, and overall how to improve it and make it more effective. Your employees are your greatest asset—and listening to them not only helps the overall ERP software but its effectiveness moving forward! There is no point in putting in all that effort deploying your ERP if it isn’t being used correctly and if it isn’t evolving with your company. Your post rollout plan should ideally be at least two years long. This will help you avoid your solution becoming obsolete in terms of efficacy, and to ensure its continued success.

Mistake #8: Failure to Train

You are deploying a company-wide solution that affects multiple departments simultaneously…this is a big change. The easiest way for your ERP to fail is not to train properly and not have employees ready to embrace the change. Failure to embrace the change will have your staff either reverting to old processes or finding manual workarounds.

To avoid system adoption fails; ideally, you want to roll the new system out in phases – engaging department heads and project managers initially—who will then, in turn, train their staff. The excitement and proper training of these department heads and project managers will determine the success of that filtering out to all employees.

Final Thoughts

Your ERP implementation, from planning to execution, will be both exciting and sometimes stressful. The result, however, can be incredible. Planning and foresight can help you avoid ERP implementation failure and excel your project, specifically having the right team in place, setting milestones, proper training, and a post-launch plan. You may have an incredible team available that has the experience and commitment to see you through to launch (and post-launch), if you don’t, however—there are resources to rely on here at Withum.

Contact Us

Reach out to us with your implementation concepts and ideas; our Digital and Technology Transformation Services Team can help guide you in the right direction.