ERP Implementations: 4 Common Mistakes You Can Avoid
ERP projects and implementations are always complex: There are new processes to plan for, vendors to manage, timelines and budgets to track, training, and on and on. As a NetSuite partner, we’ve worked on a lot of ERP implementations and integrations, and we’ve noticed some mistakes that can lessen the likelihood your project will be on time and on budget.
ERP Mistake #1: Underestimating your team’s time
Everyone has a budget for their ERP project, but sometimes it doesn’t fit reality.
Look at what you want to accomplish from start to finish, and account for your team’s time and cost – realistically. Be honest about how much of your resources’ time you can commit. If you plan for the team to give 50 percent of their time but you only get 25 percent, you’ll have large delays that will frustrate everyone.
To avoid this, be aware of and honest about your company’s capacity. If your ERP implementation partner is a good one, they will ask thorough questions so you are aligned on resources, skillsets and budget. If you’ve asked your partner to lower the project cost by shifting project work to your own team, be realistic about what they can and can’t do.
ERP Mistake #2: Not assigning an ERP project sponsor
A project sponsor or leader is essential. This person is empowered to make business decisions quickly, keep a pulse on the project progress, and shepherd change management.
Here at BTM, we implemented NetSuite for a high-end, specialty retailer. The CIO was the project sponsor and he made a point to spend at least one hour a day directly involved in the project: He met with internal team from Business and IT at all different levels, along with external team members. He always had a pulse on the project and he viewed it from different angles.
This good perspective of the entire project allowed him to make quick decisions, constantly monitor the work, and ultimately resulted in a successful implementation.
ERP Mistake #3: Integrating everything
Be honest about which data you actually need and what truly needs to be integrated with the new ERP.
Could you replace the cost and time of an integration with a change in your business process? For example, we guided a client through a situation where it cost less money and time to manually enter 10,000+ items and over 1,000 suppliers compared to having us create a new integration conversion.
It’s also important to be aware of what you need integrated today versus what’s needed in the near future. If you have something that will change soon, don’t spend time and money integrating to a tool that will end up in the garbage in the next year or two.
A retail client had budgeted and planned to start a project to replace its Order Management System, which wasn’t going to go live until a year after the ERP implementation. Instead of paying us to create a throw-away integration, we worked with the client to change some business processes and enter data a little differently in order meet the requirements from the business.
Use your organization’s roadmap as a guide, and challenge your teams to avoid inefficient work (this is another area where the ERP project sponsor is really important). If you can minimize unnecessary integrations, it will save a lot of project/services time and give you much better value-add.
ERP Mistake #4: Ignoring end users until the last minute
Involving the end users early – whether they are in the field, on the shop floor, or in the store – is critical for a successful ERP project.
At the start of the project, end users should understand what you’re trying to do and why, and be allowed to give input. If not, you risk building something that doesn’t support the work, responsibilities or expectations of the people who are accountable for using it.
Likewise, if you want IT to be self-sufficient after the go-live, but they’re not involved until the last 30 days, then you jeopardize the entire project (even with the best implementation). You can learn more about developing good training programs here.
It’s all about being realistic and honest
These common mistakes can happen to any type or size of organization. But they’re more likely to occur when planning is rushed or there’s a “Get it done NOW!” mentality that throttles strategic thinking.
You know your team’s skillset and capacity. Do the thorough planning and set honest expectations of what it will take for a successful ERP project outcome.