ERP implementation projects are like a river. Things tend to move along smoothly as long as water is flowing unencumbered. However, if some kind of logjam appears at the river’s source, throughout its middle span, or down to its terminus, bad things happen. In the case of ERP implementations, these issues can go ignored until it’s too late. 

While there are a host of challenges associated with ERP implementations, there are three particular areas that rarely get the attention they deserve since they involve people rather than systems. After all people is perfect right? Technology is always the usual suspect when rather goes south within an enterprise systems infrastructure. Unfortunately, truth told, this illustration of common sense is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Technology is always the usual suspect when something goes south within an enterprise systems infrastructure.

Most major, and typically unexpected, issues associated with ERP implementations reside in management/user decision-making rather than the technology itself. To a point, ERP systems are only as ‘smart’ as one’s operators. Here are some unexpected, but common, ERP implementation issues which go towards proving this point.

1. Pre-planning or lack thereof

As the tailor said, ‘measure twice, cut once,’ and when it comes to dealing with ERP systems this applies today as it did when the sentiment was originally penned. ERP is about deep and highly-dynamic resource utilization, not static data that is expected to simply lie in a database without a care in the world.

The pre-planning of an ERP implementation is much more critical to its ultimate success than typically believed. A bad start, always leads to a bad ending. If you are managing an ERP implementation, be sure to know everything about your resource requirements and project goals before you tap even a single key.

2. Preparing for success not failure

Many ERP users assume that because a system appears to be working efficiently, the ERP implementation must have been successful. This leads to complacency post-go-live which can jeopardize the longevity of system success. In this case, there are two primary areas of protection:

Establish a regular ERP maintenance program before one turns the lights on for the first time to be confident that regular monitoring will be part of the enterprises’ regular routine; and next, ensure that a failure and recovery plan is created and always available in the event that a system problem arises.

3. The Monday and Friday enterprise effect

There is a venerable QA rule in the automotive business asserting that if customers knew how little quality assurance was applied on Monday’s and Friday’s they’d never buy another car. The reason for this suggestion is simple; workforce’s typically return from the weekend tired, cranky and distracted since no one wants to go back to work after two days of playing hard. Then, on Friday’s, the entire development begins again where a workforce begins to lean into the weekend by turning more and more critical thought processes in favor of what is about to happen during the next two days.

From a management standpoint an enterprise can only really expect three ‘completely productive’ days per week, where a workforce’s entire intellectual fabric is well-oiled and driving hard. Consequently, ERP project managers would do well to be sensitive of particular performance metrics at each week’s bookends. If an ERP implementation issues is going to rear its ugly head, more often than not it will happen on either of these business days.