Recover From ERP Implementation Failure: 5 First Steps
Failure: Unfortunately, it can happen 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 tendency to snowball; if some users are unhappy with your product and it is not working they way they thought it would 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 before embarking on a project, it doesn’t have to be as devastating (and expensive) to recover from ERP implementation failure 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 the water and get your ERP system back afloat.
1. Make an ERP Implementation Failure Recovery Plan
Of course there is simply no way to predict every single thing that could go wrong with an implementation—you can’t see into the future. However, planning for some of the the common roadblocks in an implementation will ensure your strategy is actively working against the possibility of 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 know what to be prepared for.
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, implementation projects and various ways that they can stall. With their knowledge, you can flesh out a safety net that can you recover from ERP implementation failure quickly and without too much damage to your revenue.
2. Rethink Your Scope
One of the biggest contributors to the failure of an ERP project can be scope creep; 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 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, merely ensure that everyone on your team has communicated those goals clearly and understands how they were formulated to be specific, measurable and achievable.
3. Reassess Your Software
Look again at your system—did you not add enough customizations to fully support your business processes? 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, when what you really need may just 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.
4. Reset Deadlines
Just because your original projected launch dates have past 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 achievably) goals for the fix to go live. 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 all the problems ironed out.
5. Always Keep Your Mission In Mind
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 hoping the new software would do for you? All of 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 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 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 a honest, holistic and thorough evaluation of 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 seemingly less serious problem) and accountability needs to be assigned before you can move on and 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.
If you need help either beginning an ERP implementation, or are worried that your ERP software might be going under, get in touch with an expert at Datix today. We are ERP experts, and have come in during many client’s implementation processes and help turned them around.
For more help on getting started with ERP, read these two e-books!