For many companies, the long and sometimes tedious process of selecting an ERP system is considered easy compared to what awaits next – the ERP implementation. Clearly, the ERP implementation is as equally important as the selection process, although an implementation is widely considered a more complex and daunting project which can be quite disruptive to a business especially if things go wrong. That can be validated just by reading the numerous horror stories in the industry press about massive scale ERP failures experienced by some of the leading and well-known global brands. The social media sphere takes that a step further and features countless blogs, tweets or postings by users musing about unmet expectations from their ERP implementations. It’s not surprising then that most companies feel a deep sense of apprehension over a pending ERP implementation. While virtually any ERP implementation can be complex and challenging, a successful implementation can be the norm and not the exception.
Over the years, market analysis and industry research have thoroughly studied the primary root causes of most ERP failures. It is the proactive addressing of these causes which undoubtedly will help ensure an ERP project ends as a success story rather than a failure, which can cost a company untold sums of money, wasted time and resources and damage the bottom line. Below are the Top 10 Critical Success Factors which directly address those root causes of ERP failures and offer a framework to a successful implementation. These are not revolutionary or even new ideas, but ones that have been used by myself and my consulting colleagues here for hundreds of successful ERP implementations in a variety of industries. These Success Factors are tried and tested and offer real world consulting insight into the most challenging of IT projects: the ERP implementation. Outlined below are the Success Factors which are critical to the successful deployment of an ERP solution:
- Strong Executive Sponsorship
- Focused Project and Scope Management
- Minimize / Eliminate Customizations
- Approved Solution Design
- User/SME Participation and Engagement
- Process Owner Led User Training and Sign-off
- Documented User Procedures
- Targeted Data Migration Strategy
- Thorough System Testing
- Knowledge Transfer
In subsequent blogs, I will discuss each of these factors and how technology planning, strategy, design, scope of process changes, testing, level of customization and the “people effect” all influence a successful implementation.
Implementation of an ERP system does not have to be painful or cause anxiety throughout the management ranks. With the proper planning and execution of these Success Factors by a company and its IT partner, an ERP implementation can be a smooth process and one that quickly delivers efficiency and ROI across the business. In the next blog, I’ll discuss the first three “Critical Success Factors.”