The move to an ERP system can have a range of benefits - paperless working and improved processes, to name just two - are undeniable. So why, despite the best intentions of all involved, do these ERP implementations sometimes fail or not quite have the far-reaching impact that was expected?
There are several common areas where implementing enterprise systems can fail. Keep these in mind when you are implementing your new system, you could be well on your way to success.
Finding the right system
The sheer myriad of available options can make the selection process alone feel quite daunting. Before you even contact any providers, do an honest appraisal of your business needs and challenges. Ask providers to respond on how they can meet your needs. It’s important that they have experience within your industry, and that you can be as honest as possible about any future changes in direction that might alter your requirements.
Resistance to change
There are implementation challenges of this type during the introduction of any new system. Facing these issues head-on and dealing with them before they manifest is always the best option. Those who hold influence within the current infrastructure may fear losing their power, and long-serving staff may worry that they have trouble adapting to a new system. If change is not communicated effectively in an organisation, or previous implementations have failed, there will be a general distrust of anything new.
The answer to this common issue is consultation. Communicating to all staff members during the process for your ERP project, they may even have valuable input. It will encourage buy-in, compared to a scenario where they were excluded from the process entirely.
Commitment from managers
Top-level support for your ERP project is required, but don’t forget about junior and middle managers. In larger organisations where staff don’t have regular access to senior figures, their immediate line manager and colleagues are often instrumental in forming their opinions on whether something is or isn’t a good thing. If managers at all levels are enthused about your plans, it will help in convincing others to follow.
Ensure that your project management team builds in time for training in groups before the launch date. Allowing staff members to ask questions during and making it interactive, can help create reassurance that every member of staff, regardless of seniority, are going on the same journey.
Sometimes you’ll have almost the opposite problem - staff will wrongly assume that the new system can solve every problem the organisation has. ERP projects are often done in stages - always be upfront about what each phase entails, how long it will take and if need be and what is outside the project scope.
It’s possible to get the business requirements and expectations spot on, but as with any technology, lack of testing often leads to a downfall. Let teams test the functionality they will be using daily, and let them feedback, it will help reduce the amount of resistance and assist them in adjusting to the change. Adjust the process if it is not suitable, do not make changes to imitate the old processes, but consider how processes can be improved using your new system.