My previous blog was about the importance of leadership and executive buy-in during Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations. Without top-down leadership, no one else in the organisation will buy-in either, and the company will not get much value from the software.
Ownership of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is much more than the signing of a contract at the time of purchase. In order to deliver value it must be the consequence of a long term strategy of ownership, and that means a long term commitment to data integrity, solution design and education.
While on vacation recently, I visited an interesting restaurant with a large group of relatives. At the table a few clearly marked buttons were provided to request waiters to bring more water, clear used utensils, bring the bill, etc. I had never seen this back home in Vancouver. What a great idea to improve efficiency!
“Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.” Samuel Johnson
Do you know how complex Microsoft Word and Excel are?
Because Word and Excel look so easy, people under-estimate how complex other standard systems, like an ERP, can be. If business users knew how complex those two Microsoft applications really are, they would be more thoughtful and careful when embarking on a complex software project.
Despite the fact that ERP solutions are intended to improve business performance quickly and efficiently, through the provision of critical information, they generally do not have a good track record. In his research paper “Causes influencing the effectiveness of the post-implementation ERP system” (subscription required), CS Yu came to the conclusion that 40% of all ERP implementations or extensions perform below expectations and 20% are eventually scrapped as complete failures. The latter figure could even be as high as 50%, depending on how ‘failure’ is defined.
Part 2: Changing the system as business realities change
Hands up all those who have started implementing an ERP system and not had to deal with changes as the project progresses. No one? I am not surprised. Has anyone gone live with an ERP project and never had any changes afterwards? The reality of any ERP project is that scope changes occur during the project, and after going live it is guaranteed that there will be more requirement changes.
Part 1: Building a house on a solid foundation
You can hardly miss it these days: questions about why Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects hit problems, or worse, fail, appear on so many websites. I have seen many ERP implementations and thought I had some answers, but it was only after I had been involved in building a house that I could see the similarities between building projects and ERP implementations, and why we don’t see buildings collapsing in the same ways some ERP projects fail.
My friend David popped round for dinner the other evening, deeply troubled. He told me that when he woke up last Thursday he noticed a change in his wife’s demeanour. It wasn’t immediately obvious, he said, but he just knew something odd was going on. It wasn’t just the unblinking stare that worried him (although that normally would have been sufficient cause for concern), it was the newly acquired interest shown in anything related to computers. Almost obsessive, he said, to the point he was seriously thinking that she had been taken over by some alien. Now David is not one to exaggerate and even if I privately thought that perhaps he had been watching too many movies, still he is my friend and deserves a considered hearing. I tried to calm his unease, told him that he was worrying unnecessarily and sent him on his way.