ERP failure: regrettably, it can occur to even the most well-intentioned software project. Whether it comes about as a direct result of a planning error or an occurrence out of your control like a server meltdown ERP implementation failure is always costly and discouraging. It also has the propensity to snowball; if some users are unhappy with your product and it is not working as considered they won’t continue to use the system making it even less valuable. That’s why it’s imperative that you have a rescue plan in place as soon as you notice that your implementation is going awry.
With a strong failure plan in place, recovering from ERP failure doesn’t have to be as devastating (and expensive) as you might think. If you believe your ERP isn't performing up to standard, your employees are just not embracing the change, or you know your project is close to total failure, follow these five steps to keep your head above water and get your ERP system back afloat.
Of course, there is simply no way to predict everything that could go wrong with an implementation you can’t see into the future. However, planning for some of the common roadblocks in an implementation will ensure your strategy is actively working to avoid these failures. Good change management and goal communication will help you drive adoption of the project (one of the most important factors of success) early on. If you already have a plan in place to realign a faltering project it will be much easier to get your system back on track. Consider strategizing around some common problems that ERP projects can run into so that you are prepared.
This is also a great point to bring on outside help or value-added resellers (VAR) especially if you have never undergone an implementation before. Consultants will have wide-ranging experience with all manners of ERP software and implementation projects, and they will be familiar with many of the reasons that such projects can stumble. With their knowledge, you can flesh out a safety net that can help you recover from ERP implementation failure quickly and without too much damage to your revenue.
One of the biggest contributors to the failure of an ERP project can be scope creep, i.e. when the expectations for your implementation run out of line with its initial goals. Suddenly, everyone in your organization thinks the software should be doing something different and harbor expectations that are not accommodated in the scope of your calendar and budget. If you have an enterprise software project failing, consider sitting down with your project team and rethinking the original scope of the project. This must be done very carefully what caused your project to take a wrong turn? Is the failure due to scope creep or a scope that was not properly assessed at the beginning of the project? Now, you don’t have to retrench on what your expectations and goals were at the start of the project. You’ll merely ensure that everyone on your team has communicated those goals clearly and understands how they were formulated to be specific, measurable and achievable.
Look again at your system did you not add enough customizations to fully support your business processes? On the other end, you might have tried to add on too much, muddying up your system and making functions too difficult to use efficiently. Project teams can get overexcited about the prospect of customizations during the implementation process and the marketing talk that vendors use to get you to spend more money on add-ons. However, what may have been best for your business could be a clean, simple ERP to support straightforward processes. Think honestly about the scale of your software and consider if you’re making things too complicated for yourself would removing some features make the program easier to run, and easier for your employees to use? After all, your software will be meaningless without user adoption. Simplifying your system can often be one of the easiest ways to recover from ERP implementation failure.
Just because you’re original projected launch dates have passed doesn’t mean you give up altogether and just decide to get the job done when you have the time. After an ERP failure, you really have to drill down on reworking the system and give yourself measurable (and achievable goals for the fixes to be implemented. It might be daunting, but ERP failures must be dealt with immediately. A clear re-launch date will give your project team motivation and a strict framework to get the problems ironed out.
Software failure can be extremely discouraging. If you find that it dries up all company enthusiasm, it’s time to circle back to your project’s original mission statement. Try and tap back into that excitement that existed at the beginning of your implementation. Why did you want to take on a new ERP system in the first place? What were you hoping the new software would do for you? Yes, your original goals are still very much possible you just need to rework your software and how it is supporting your business processes. Know that a setback won’t stop you from eventually reaping all of the benefits of an ERP implementation and try and refocus and recharge with all of the goals you originally set for the project.
Any type of large-scale organizational change, like an ERP implementation, is a difficult road to navigate: between change management, training, and adoption practices, there is an inherent risk that your software just won’t do what was promised at the start of the project. And because ERP is often so integral to a company’s day to day operations, a failure will usually cost you more than just your initial investment in downtime and lost sales. It can be a long and arduous process to recover from ERP Implementation failure, but it’s a necessary job that must be done if you don’t want to keep throwing investment dollars down the drain.
You need to make an honest, holistic and thorough evaluation of the project so far, including your project team and the software you’ve been using. Failure can happen for many different reasons (or a combination of the seemingly less serious problem) and accountability needs to be assigned before you can move forward with getting your project back on track and achieving true value with your ERP system. If all these steps are taken, then you can be sure that you will surface with enterprise software that is as valuable as you promised it would be.