back to list Wed, 24 Nov 2021

Risks in old fashioned ERP implementation

Implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is typically a massive undertaking for any company, from the smallest to the biggest enterprises. And this is mostly not only massive undertaking, but also time consuming, and very risky. If you look at the history of the ERP implementation projects, you will probably find a lot of challenges and very often failures.

Of course, there is no way how to overcome all risks in advance and to create absolutely safe implementation and because of that we need to have properly risk management on the project. But it is possible to reduce the most of them and overcome some of them with a great impact.

As a story about successful ERP implementation is story about satisfy customer, we will try to explain what customer can do to overcome the most important risks. There is not a magic wand, but there are some instructions how to avoid issues and you will see, they are not complicated, and you just need to organize yourself and to ask for help sometimes.

Choosing the best solution

Choosing the right solution is probably the most important task, but even if it looks easy, this is mostly one of the most complicated. This is because that in most cases you will make research on your own, you will use your or your colleagues experience, or you will start to discuss with some of partners you believe they can provide this solution for you.

If you try to make your own research, probably you will not catch all information, simply because there are not enough public materials to compare all solutions. On the first sight something can look more than enough, but devil is in details… and if you are not an expert you cannot find these details. Even if you are an expert, you cannot be an expert for all solutions.

If you rely on you experience or accept experience of some of your friends, it doesn’t mean that one solution fits all businesses. In general, there is not bad solution, there is only solution that fits or doesn’t fit you. As every business and project are unique, probably you will miss the point.

If you start to negotiate with some of implementation partners, probably they are experts and they know their business. But in most cases, partner works with one or maybe 2 or 3 solutions. It again means they will offer you some of these solutions, and in 99% of situations they will not say ‘my solution is not for you’.

Of course, there is a chance that you will not make mistake with one of these options and maybe you will choose the right solution for you. But this ‘maybe’ is not accurate enough. This is your money you need to invest, and I wouldn’t bet on ‘maybe’. Imagine you need to buy a car, and someone will say ‘you will maybe get a car’. Only one way to be sure enough is to engage independent expert(s). Why we use plural here? Because one expert will not fit all solutions. You need to have experts good enough in the most of available solutions. And these experts must not have an interest in any of these software solutions. This is a place where we want to help you. We want to support you in choosing the right solution and we are the most favorable in the world… simply we will do it for you absolutely free of charge. We want to analyze your business and to find the most fit solutions available on the market for you. And then together with you to choose the right one.

Having clear project scope

Having the right scope is closely connected with choosing the right solution. Sometimes you will choose wrong solution expecting to fulfill all your requirements. Sometimes is better to choose two independent solutions and to integrate them. There are many reasons for that, from architecture, through user experience and similar. Sometimes it can be an opposite case and maybe one solution will fit better. But you need to understand both functional and technical sides of solutions to make the best choice.

And even after choosing the right solution or solutions, you still need to have a scope of implementation(s) and it must be in writing. That means we need to have a document for you and your implementers in order to know what is expected to be done. Only if we have requirements, we can measure success. This item is crucial as all team members must be consulted to achieve clear requirements. Defining the business in a ‘blueprint’ should recognize all of the desired workflows and processes with a note of prevailing ‘pain points’ that must be resolved by the new system.

And of course, this is a common task. You need to have all key users involved in this process, but you need to have the best experts from the side of implementer to understand how to configure the system. And you need to have someone who will lead completely process as a supervisor giving the best advice to both sides.

Team Members don’t embrace the solution

There are a lot of stories about how team members didn’t want to embrace new business software, especially ERP as it is the most complicated at all. Employees usually resist new technological changes for the following reasons: technological newness, application size, application complexity and failure of the solution to meet project specifications. There is not magic wand for that, but in general, there are two the most important aspects how you can get them on your side.

First the most important task is to choose the right solution that fits your organization. If employees see that solution is good for their daily job and that it fulfills their expectations, they will embrace it. Second task is to have them involved in the process of implementation from the beginning and not to have this solution as something that just must be accepted.

For the first task we can help you because our common goal for you, for us, and for your employees is to find the most fit solution. For the second task you must be proactive; we will give you advices how you can do it, but you must do it.

Avoid highly customized solution

This is closely connected with the Choosing the best solution topic. If you choose the right solution, it will be mostly fit with your requirements and it will not require serious customizations. Some small customizations are usual but making big changes may be painful and very risky.

We definitely have to avoid having the situation where you would like to change each process to be more fit with yours. Why to change one solution so deeply, when you can find solution more fit with you? And why all those customizations are so risky?

When software vendor builds the solution, they are doing that based on good industry practice and they have proven concept in many different implementations. And what is more important, it is really deeply tested. When you require customization, no matter how much someone tests it, it will not be tested even 5% as original code. It is easy to understand the risk. Some of the best projects failed because of too many customizations.

Again, you can count on our fully support both in choosing the best possible solution and giving you advice when it is not problematic to make customization and when not to do it… of course you don’t need to pay us for that.

Number and quality of consultants

When you cooperate with some of local implementation partner, this partner has limited number of consultants or developers, and they work on other projects as well. It is pretty common situation that project is late because lack of resources. And partner cannot easily hire new consultants. There is also another potential issue here. When you look at their project references, you will often see great companies and expect great experience, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that experts who worked on that project are still in the company. You can often find good references, but to get insufficiently experienced consultant.

With Tounca Marketplace Platform, we have almost limitless resource pool with all possible experience and knowledge. That means if we need more people, we can add more; if you are not satisfied with experts, we can change them. And of course, their experience is where they really worked on the projects.

Lack of the project management supervision

We will highly recommend reading our article: Project Management is a ‘Boolean’ to understand importance of the right project management. It is extremely important to have right project managers from implementer’ s side, but internally as well. Our obligation is to take care about whole project and to provide project management supervision, to be sure we are behaving 100% according to methodology.

Timelines and project scheduling

Many businesses vastly underestimate the complexity and resources necessary to implement an effective ERP system. Therefore, they fail to adequately plan for unpredictable contingencies that push back schedules and deliverables. We will not allow unrealistic due dates. Project scheduling is very important part of project management, and it must be organized realistically. Each of tasks requires some time and there is no way to make them faster and to keep the same quality or any quality at all. We want to deliver project as sooner as possible, but not before realistic timeline based on the highest quality. Whatever we want to speed up, we can do it in the planning phase, but this is important to be realistic about due dates. On the other side, we will track the progress of the project through planned milestones.

Failure to redesign business processes

The right thing is to redesign current processes to fit to purchase ERP system, instead of trying to fit the ERP forcefully into the current system. Even if we chose the most fit solution, there is no way that this solution will have exactly the same processes as the old one. Very often there is a temptation to customize the new ERP system to mirror the functionality in the legacy system and this is what we explained in the Avoid highly customized solution topic.

Employees who are using the same old system for the last 10+ years may feel uncomfortable to change or even don’t feel the need to change. They may feel they’ re already doing a fine job with the existing system. The people who are proficient in what they do and know the business inside-out may be the most reluctant to ERP deployment and implementation thinking it’ll not work. We already explained that in the Team Members don’t embrace the solution topic.

Of course, the most important is to find the right measure what is really needed to be customized and what isn’t. This is the path we will take you on. It is important to remember that in generally expert will earn more money as you want more customizations, but we want to help you to get the best solution and to be satisfy, not just to earn the money.

Testing process

Due to the discretionary nature of testing, many managers will shortcut testing of an ERP system to expedite or meet the “go-live” date. Extensive testing ensures less maintenance costs during the post “go-live” period. It is important to know that testing process is a common process. Developers and consultants will test the solution as implementers, but the final full testing is something what you as a client must do. You are someone who will confirm that something works as planned. You need to plan your key users’ testing time accordingly.

Building the trust

Trust is not easy to describe, and there are certainly no shortages in the attempts to define the concept. Merriam-Webster defines it as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something” and lists words such as “confidence, credence, and faith,” as synonyms. Hakanen and Soudunsaari (2012) write about additional definitions of trust such as having confidence in others’ goodwill and agreeing to cooperate prior to knowing how others will act. Despite the specific definition used, it is fair to say that trust is a concept or psychological state that is intangible in nature, yet an individual inherently knows when he does or does not trust another. It is personal, it is palpable, and it matters. The ability to create and sustain trust is an interpersonal skill that can be developed over time through the creation and development of relationships with others. While it usually takes a long time to develop, trust can be eroded and even destroyed in short order, and this is the reason why we want to build the trust from the early beginning.

Trust in a project management team typically serves two purposes. It allows you to focus on what you need to do without worrying about your security or safety. Trust therefore creates a distraction-free environment, which also has a positive impact on the general emotional and mental well-being of the people. This eventually makes the team more productive.

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