Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are crucial infrastructures designed to optimize the key processes that keep a business running. Implementing these systems is often a complex task, and such attempts are not always successful. If it’s not implemented properly, an ERP solution could hinder production, disrupt the supply chain, and essentially do more harm than good.
For this reason, businesses should focus as much on proper ERP system implementation as they do on finding the right solution. From dysfunctional software to the migration of low-quality data, there are many issues that could result from mishandled efforts to implement an ERP solution. If you’re a business that’s planning to undertake this feat soon, here are some examples of problems that might hinder a project’s success:
Lack of Expert Assistance
One of the first things you need to do when launching a project is to assemble the right team. This means knowing the most suitable people for each of the project’s roles, with some examples being those of project managers and IT staff. It’s also important to include key users from different departments, from accounting and inventory to marketing and sales. A team comprised of members that don’t have the right aptitude and expertise to handle the project’s various requirements is sure to lead it toward failure.
Aside from technical skills, your team members must also have leadership characteristics that would ensure smooth and timely project fulfillment. It would be ideal for team leaders and members to have not only a comprehensive understanding of each department, but also a sense of teamwork and good organizational and communication skills. While defining milestones is simple enough, you need stellar professionals that can lend their expertise, provide actionable feedback, and work well with a team.
Lack of Support from Management
Many companies are already aware that ERP implementation requires a high level of commitment to be done properly. Unfortunately, there are times when top management is unwilling to accommodate project timelines or allocate the necessary resources to see the effort through. Aside from disengagement, there could be a bias toward certain vendors or a resistance to change that pervades the organization as a whole.
For ERP implementation to succeed, there needs to be sufficient support on the company leadership’s part. The project team and top management must communicate clearly about the implementation’s goals, requirements, and schedule to keep everything transparent. Lastly, there must be a way to properly communicate the benefits of ERP implementation—not just to organizational heads, but to everyone involved. This includes rank-and-file staff who will be interacting with the system every day.
Poorly Defined Project Plans
Even if you’ve got the willingness to implement an ERP system, you must first establish clear goals to determine exactly what constitutes a successful effort. Otherwise, inadequacies in scoping, budgeting, and timelines could lead to missed project deadlines, cost overruns, and an inability to meet expectations.
To prevent these mishaps, your business needs a detailed strategy that aligns with what you want the project to achieve. For instance, you could revolve the project around objectives such as fewer errors, quicker time-to-market, better inter-departmental collaboration, and improved service delivery. All in all, being driven by a goal is necessary to ensure straightforward implementation without setbacks or distractions.
Misunderstood Organizational Processes
In relation to project planning, you also need to adequately map your organizational processes that might experience changes in line with ERP implementation. With that being said, you and your provider must work together to determine critical processes and how your chosen ERP system can make them more efficient.
It would also help to identify which technologies and workflows need to be updated in line with the shift, as implementation is a largely methodical operation that requires compatible tech and procedures. Additionally, your team needs to be open and agile enough to undertake tedious and precarious procedures, including the migration of data which might entail plenty of corrections.
Overall, it is necessary to reassess company procedures and launch discussions with your provider in advance to analyze the best potential strategies.
Miscommunication and Misalignment
Lack of communication does not do a company’s endeavors any good, but it’s particularly detrimental to large-scale projects like ERP implementation. If communications between the software vendor, implementation team, and employees are stunted, the entire effort could become quickly derailed. Apart from unaddressed feedback and concerns, this lack of proper communication could result in a mismatch between stakeholders’ expectations. This mismatch could then lead to more obstacles down the road.
To prevent this, it would be a good idea to foster open communication from the outset. In the weeks leading up to the project’s start date, consider establishing a plan for transparency and communication. This could include periodic meetings, progress reports, and regular feedback sessions to keep everyone updated on how the project is going. Even after a successful implementation, there still needs to be sufficient monitoring measures in place to ensure that all employees have been properly trained and are acclimating well to the new system.
Implementing an enterprise-wide system is already a complex task, to begin with. Thus, it pays to have everyone on board and working together to achieve overarching goals.
Don’t Let Your Implementation Efforts Bite the Dust
There’s a common misconception that ERP implementation happens in a flash and will automatically solve an organization’s problems. Such is not the case, as implementing enterprise systems is a long-term effort that takes a lot of planning, labor, and resource allocation to become successful.
Because of all that comes with ERP implementation, some might argue that such projects are a herculean task that only large businesses must undertake. However, that’s far from the truth. With a trusted team of experts, management support, and ample communication at all stages, any kind of business can successfully implement ERP solutions and experience the transformative impact they have on organizational growth and success.