When organizations start an ERP implementation without the right considerations in mind, several things can quickly go awry. To help you avoid these common pitfalls, we’ve compiled a list of the eight most common roadblocks to a successful ERP implementation.
Lack of a Strategic Plan
In an eagerness to launch a large implementation, companies often dive into the project without developing a strategic plan. There are many common planning errors, including:
- Jumping into a project without considering results of similar, past projects
- Launching a project without involving key stakeholders
- Failure to consider costs or set budgetary parameters
- Minimizing the complexity of developing software
- Moving forward without setting up a schedule to assess progress on deliverables
It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and excitement of a new project. Organizations can avoid these mistakes by involving key stakeholders in strategic planning meetings and establishing performance measures to help gauge project progress. Finally, companies should always analyze the results of past projects as the strategic plan is being mapped out.
Inaccurate Estimates of Time Required for Project Completion
A carefully formulated estimate of the timeframe required for a project plays a critical role in its overall success. Poor timeframe estimates can lead to lost revenue and low client satisfaction. Below is a look at some factors that contribute to this:
- Creating estimates without involving the team who will be doing the work
- Basing estimates on guesses or wishful thinking
- Offering an overly optimistic estimate to secure a client’s business
- Ignoring completion timeframes for past projects
- Failure to provide updates on time estimates as deadlines approach
Providing accurate estimates is best achieved by using proven tools and techniques, such as three-point estimating. Additionally, project teams should review completion timeframes for similar projects completed in the past, providing regular updates for the client on project timeframes.
Poorly Defined Project Scope
Some of the key errors related to scope management of a project include the following:
- A project scope that lacks clarity and definition
- Inability to define accurate budgetary parameters
- A project team that lacks direction
- Making scope changes without the input of key stakeholders
Project Managers can improve a project’s scope by making sure that an initiative is carried out in pre-established segments with the involvement of stakeholders. Any changes to a project’s scope should be clearly conveyed to all parties involved.
Failure to Engage Stakeholders
Communicating with stakeholders is often vital to the success of a project. In addition to serving as key project advisors, stakeholders often lend support and expertise that can contribute to project success. We recommend avoiding the following stakeholder pitfalls:
- Seeking stakeholder involvement only after a problem develops
- Ignoring stakeholder goals and desires
- Failure to maintain documentation for meetings and risk management discussions
Transparency is the key to stakeholder engagement. Through open communication and meeting inclusion, project managers can keep stakeholders engaged.
Poor Risk Management
Avoiding discussion of project risks is like viewing a project through rose-colored glasses and is a recipe for issues to arise. Risks should be identified, assessed, and properly managed through acceptance, avoidance, or mitigation. Unfortunately, many projects are initiated with the following risk management mistakes:
- Launching a project without considering any risks or their potential impacts
- Considering only the positive ways that risk can impact a project
- Discussing risk in a general, all-encompassing fashion
- Failure to regularly reanalyze risks as a project unfolds
Proper risk management can help eliminate barriers to success. Strategies to help manage risk include categorizing identified risks, involving stakeholders in risk management discussions, and periodically updating risk registers.
Inadequate Project Management
Ideally, project management combines skills, expertise, resources, and strategic planning to meet or exceed project requirements. Unfortunately, there is a host of project management errors that can impact a project’s success. A few of these errors are as follows:
- Devoting too much energy to processes as opposed to a project’s outcome
- Insufficient leadership and training
- Failure to address problems when they arise
- Short-sightedness, or the inability to focus on long-term successes
The value and impact of proper project management are often overlooked. This can be avoided by closely reviewing how all workstreams and project teams are structured and making sure that strong, experienced project management is in place, aligned with, and in support of overall program governance.
Successful implementation rarely occurs without a robust testing strategy. While it may seem intuitive to test a product prior to implementation, there are too many cases in which projects are labeled “complete” without ensuring that design requirements are met. Below are some common examples of insufficient testing:
- Testing resources are inadequate
- Insufficient test data for all possible scenarios
- The individuals performing the testing lack expertise
- Poorly maintained testing documentation
Testing can be biased or conducted by people aiming to prove the software functions properly as opposed to identifying flaws. Many of these issues can be eliminated by creating a comprehensive test plan that is reviewed with stakeholders in advance of testing. Additionally, the testing process should be overseen by an experienced test lead who emphasizes the importance of documentation.
OCM & End-User Training
A clear OCM Strategy is paramount in making sure the implementation is successful. If the project starts to fall behind during implementation, the curriculum development and exercises get pushed out and are sometimes neglected altogether.
To ensure your project runs smoothly and seamlessly, it is always worthwhile to engage with a partner who is experienced in your chosen ERP initiative. Having the right expertise on your side will allow you to avoid these common pitfalls and enjoy the excitement and overall benefits of the process.