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Five ERP implementation fails and how to avoid them

Written by FHL

22 | 06 | 21

4 minute read

ERP planning and project implementations not only take a great deal of time and resource, but they also come with their fair share of risks. They are notoriously difficult to get right and analyst group, Gartner, claims 60% of ERP investments are considered failures because they compromised the business in some way. From supply chain disruption through to financial reporting errors, there’s a lot at stake if the project goes wrong, including loss of business and reputational damage.

There are five common issues that we see regularly and recognising these before embarking on an implementation project can help drive success.


1) Poorly defined business goals

The drive to adopt a new ERP system typically derives from the competitive advantages offered by the functionality the new system offers, alongside improvements to customer services and better organisational wide visibility. Buy-in at a senior level is a key part of the success of any ERP implementation. Direction and agreement on what success looks like, the organisation’s digital strategy, budgets, project resources and deadlines need to be prioritised or no amount of investment in a new system will deliver a successful rollout.


2) Failing to prepare

Is your ERP project plan detailed enough? Many projects fail because key success factors such as business change management and realistic project timings are often overlooked. At this crucial initial stage of the project, a comprehensive implementation plan that includes key project milestones, the resource and skills required to successfully execute the plan, alongside planned time for testing all need to be considered. A detailed plan will highlight the resource required to make the implementation happen, how much it is going to cost and dates for completion.


3) Lack of focus

Enabling your team the time to commit to an ERP implementation is imperative, no matter how long the job takes. Plan to relieve your core ERP implementation team from their general tasks, allowing them to focus their efforts on a successful implementation. Can their workload be managed elsewhere within the business or is temporary cover needed to take over any of their usual responsibilities? Distractions or time away from the project have the potential to derail the project entirely, so allow your team the time it needs to get on with the task at hand.


4) Wrong team for the job

Understanding business processes, the way people engage with them and the organisation’s strategy are arguably more important than the technical side of a new ERP implementation. Project failure can occur if the team working on implementation don’t have the right skills and knowledge about how each department operates and the details of their processes. When assessing the best team for the project, consider how well they know the organisation and their business processing knowledge, not to mention their technical skills. In addition to this, ensure they’re trained on the new software and how it applies to your business.


5) Not leading the way on change

Change management is so much more than just training end-users on how to use a new system. It’s about ensuring everyone in the business acknowledges and understands the need for change. It’s also about involving all key stakeholders so that they know what the plan is, how it’s going to happen and what their role will be moving forward. Just telling people to use the new ERP system simply isn’t good enough, especially for those reluctant to embrace change. Lack of communication significantly increases the likelihood of the ERP project failing and the organisation's investment going to waste. 


Poorly defined processes, the wrong project team or employees refusing to engage in new ways of working, all have the potential to stall or derail ERP implementation projects and even cause business disruption or damage.

Don’t leave your NetSuite implementation to chance! Our team of experts at RSM are here to help with your project planning and implementation.