Technology Isn’t the Reason Your ERP Project Fails
By Dave Woodworth, President at Terillium
There are several reasons an ERP project fails. I’ve learned over the course of my career that there are three broad categories to strategically consider to make an ERP project successful: the people, the processes, and the technology involved. This post focuses on the technology aspect of a successful ERP implementation.
When an ERP implementation goes badly, people usually say “it’s the software.” After participating in hundreds of ERP projects, I can tell you – it’s not.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, software is a business tool. By itself, it won’t cause failure – and it won’t ensure success.
That being said, to make the software work for your business, it’s important not to overlook these key technical steps starting from day one of the project: Data Conversion, Integrations, and Reporting.
Many don’t look at these three important technical steps until later in the project – when it’s too late.
One of the biggest issues during an ERP project is data conversion – moving data from the old system and mapping it into the new ERP.
Incomplete, incorrect, incoherent information; duplicate data, bad data, little data – all can cause big problems. Get organized by reviewing and identifying your master data entities – including your customer master, supplier master, item master, and account master.
The data cleanup exercise can be quite lengthy and can extend the project timeline and cost beyond your original plans. A new ERP system will not operate effectively with “bad data.” We encourage our clients to start data cleanup before the implementation even begins to get a head start.
Early in the project, start thinking about what other systems need to integrate with your ERP system. Ensure you have purchased the software in a timely fashion or upgraded existing systems to the newer release. Spend time documenting the inputs and outputs from any third-party systems that will integrate with your ERP early in the project. When working with third-party systems, make sure your third-party vendors understand your ERP timeline and critical milestones, and schedule their resources accordingly to meet your ERP project goals.
One of the biggest benefits of implementing a new ERP system is gaining one source of truth for your business. Reporting is often one of the longest tasks associated with an ERP project, so don’t leave it to the end. Very early on, ask employees to send an example of a business report they can’t live without. Once you collect this input, catalog and prioritize the list of reports. Having this information early can help drive decisions when configuring the software. It can enable better project planning because you know from the beginning what reports you need to have in the end. Businesses that wait until late in the project to define and write reports find themselves either pushing go-live, or sacrificing key reports until after go-live. In these cases, many of the reports never end up being developed.
Dave Woodworth is the President of Terillium, an award-winning ERP consulting company. Dave has consulted on over 100 ERP implementations throughout his career. Before joining Terillium in 2003, Dave spent 10 years as a consultant and senior manager for Arthur Andersen (now Accenture). He is a proud Miami University graduate, and leads Terillium University – a unique program for new college graduates who want to develop a career path in consulting.