5 Ways Software Implementations Fail
By Phil Perkins, President and CEO, ACUMEN Corporation
About this time last year I began writing an eBook I titled “Epic Fail; How Not to Implement your ERP System”. Having worked with companies during software implementation projects for many years I have become quite opinionated about what goes into insuring successful on time and on budget projects. I have also come to recognize those behaviors that can virtually assure cost and timeline overruns. As you glance at the 5 items below you may find yourself saying “well that’s pretty obvious”. But many companies make one or all of these mistakes. Let’s have a closer look:
1. Improper advance planning for the appropriate number and type of human resources both internal and external that it will require to insure success. In fact, some companies believe that project management isn’t really necessary since internal stakeholders have a good grasp of how the business runs and therefor are qualified to run a project based on the needs of that business. I have seldom seen this prove out. Project management is both an art and science of its own. Beyond that companies have to realize that key stakeholders will need to devote time to the project while still doing their day to day work. Miscalculating this set of needs can crush a project and negatively impact day to day business.
2. Short cutting the planning process in favor of “let’s get started”. Every project has a critical path and it is best that everyone have a view of the timeline, assumption set, dependencies and time pegging. Whether it’s the human resource needs discussed above or how a peak season might not be the best time to pull folks off the production floor to work on the project, time must be taken to define and fully illustrate the project.
3. Missing the opportunity to “cleanse” and update your valuable data and improve business processes. Many companies will even use the opportunity afforded by software implementation to define best practices or even seek ISO certification. At very least it is advisable to have a hard look at corporate data, whether sales results or inventory turns by item or item group so that the new system is dealing with “real” data.
4. Failing to take the time and make the effort to gain user “buy in” (I can’t stress the importance of this enough by the way). Projects tend to bog down if the actual folks on the line from sales order entry to cash collection don’t have an understanding of the rationale for the project and how it can improve company performance and perhaps even make their jobs a tad easier. We try to coordinate with the users themselves early and often.
5. Setting unrealistic goals whether it be an unachievable “go live” date or business objectives (reduction of inventory, increased service level, reduction of headcounts) that are not based in sound business if not human logic. Let’s face it, no software system alone ever drove cost reduction or boosted sales or profitability. But you know that.
If one pays attention to pre-project planning, appropriate resource allocation and realistic goal setting you can go a long way towards preventing an “Epic Fail”.
BTW, you can read a bit more of the eBook in the blog section with this link: www.ACUMENcorp.com/epic-fail-how-not-to-implement-your-erp-system-chapter-one .