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  • John Hannan

Is Your ERP Implementation Experiencing Delays? The Common Causes and How To Avoid Them.

Are you finding that your ERP implementation plan is taking longer than expected? Delays are common in ERP implementations, and understanding the causes of these delays can help you anticipate and avoid them. This blog post will explore the most common causes of ERP implementation delays and discuss how to mitigate them. Read on to learn more!


What Causes ERP Implementation Delays?

When a company implements an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, they hope for a smooth, efficient process with minimal delays. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and many organizations face delays in the ERP implementation process. There can be many reasons for these delays, but some of the most common causes include

  • Unrealistic initial estimates

  • Lack of governance

  • Insufficient senior leadership

  • Inadequate data

  • Lack of skilled resources

  • Poor communication

  • Scope Changes

  • Lack of testing

Change Management

An ERP solution's success lies in how it's rolled out and how users and stakeholders adjust to the new system. Poor change management can lead to resistance, missed deadlines, and a lack of understanding or commitment to the project.


Unrealistic Initial Estimates

Of course, by definition, a delay is an extension of an original schedule. It would be hasty to jump right into the project-related causes for delays without first recognizing that sometimes the original estimates for a project timeline are unrealistic. When a project is estimated, it is often based on a small amount of discovery sessions and user interviews. It just isn’t possible to capture all the nuances of a business in this short amount of time. Sometimes the result of that is that once the project team is on the ground and ‘peels back the onion,’ it is discovered that there is a lot more effort than what was originally thought. Sometimes the initial estimate is just not possible, given the objectives of the business.


Lack of Governance

One of the most common reasons ERP implementations fail is due to lack of governance. Governance refers to defining and implementing strategies and policies that guide the project management and decision-making for the ERP solution. Without proper governance, the risk of project failure increases dramatically.


The main issue with a lack of governance is that it can lead to misunderstandings between stakeholders and decision-makers. Without proper guidance, stakeholders and decision-makers may not be aware of the necessary steps required to implement the ERP solution successfully. This can lead to costly delays and unforeseen issues, resulting in an unsuccessful project.


Insufficient Senior Leadership

Organizations take their cues from the top down, and a project relies on prompt and sensible decision-making. For these reasons, project successes rely heavily on the leaders in the organization to drive organizational focus, make tough decisions, secure budget, and resources, and promote change.


Insufficient senior leadership has two forms. The first is an absence or indifference related to the project. When this happens, when the project isn’t the most important new endeavor that the business is undertaking at this point in time, the project’s chances of failure increase drastically. Secondly, dedicating an unqualified senior leader to the project in an effort to give them ‘something to do’ is equally detrimental in that now the project is being steered by poor decision-making, and the organization is taking its cues from an incapable source.


Inadequate Data

Data is the lifeblood of any ERP solution. Without it, the system can't function properly and will not deliver the expected value. Many ERP implementations fail due to a lack of data.

When organizations face large data migration tasks, they often underestimate the complexity involved. It's not just about moving data from one system to another. It requires understanding the data and the business requirements and ensuring that the data is accurate and clean. In some cases, businesses may find that their existing systems lack sufficient data or that there are gaps between current systems.


Lack of Skilled Resources

One of the most common issues associated with ERP implementations is the lack of skilled resources. Companies often underestimate the complexity of implementing an ERP solution and don't have the necessary team members to handle the implementation process. This can lead to delays as companies scramble to find experienced professionals to help guide the project.


Simply handing the keys over to a hired implementation partner is the surest of ways to guarantee project delays. Implementation partners know software and industry, but they do not know the organization’s particular business. Failing to dedicate the proper Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to the project and provide them with the time to do it through backfilling their normal roles or otherwise will lead to delays as decisions will not be timely and rework will need to eventually be done when uninformed decisions are made.


Poor Communication

One of the most common reasons for delays in ERP implementations is a lack of effective communication. Poor communication can lead to miscommunications, missed deadlines, and a lack of understanding from stakeholders and teams about the goals and objectives of the project. Without proper communication, a team can be unable to adequately plan their work and ensure everyone is on the same page.


Scope Changes

Everyone knows that hitting a moving target is a lot more difficult than hitting a stationary mark. This is true for ERP implementations as well. Every project starts with an agreed Statement of Work (SOW). Responsible implementation partners will very clearly define the scope within this document as it becomes a resource for both the internal and external project teams to reference as to what they should be looking to accomplish. The timeline set forth was based on consideration of the scoping elements.


Issues arise when items “not in scope” are introduced to the project, and the project team is directed, or on their own, accepts scope additions and begins working on these items. This means they are not working on in-scope items while doing this, and also, additional test scenarios, training topics, and failure points have been introduced. This all takes time and, when accumulated, can have a sneaky project impact leaving people wondering why they are off schedule.


Scope changes should be addressed formally through a Steering Committee. If it is determined they are necessary, the scope of work should be addressed through a Change Order with added resources, timeline, and budget where appropriate.


Lack of Testing

When it comes to ERP implementation, testing is an integral part of the process. It is often overlooked or delayed due to time constraints, but ensuring that the system works as intended is necessary. Without proper testing, the ERP solution may have flaws or not perform as expected, leading to delays and frustration.

Proper testing means a regimented testing cycle with scripted scenarios, expected outcomes, and tracked results. Conducting a test in such a manner ensures accountability and a complete test. Doing this right saves a lot of heartache at go-live.


How To Avoid ERP Implementation Delays

Preventing delays is one of the most important steps to implementing a successful ERP solution. Delays can be costly (in real dollars, business productivity, and employee morale) and cause your organization to miss out on the potential benefits an ERP system can bring. To avoid delays, it's important to be proactive with the implementation process and plan for any potential obstacles.


First, you need to have an organized and comprehensive change management strategy. Change management is essential for successful implementation and will ensure that employees are adequately prepared and trained to use the new system. This will help reduce the risk of user error and any unnecessary delays.


You should also develop a clear governance structure that outlines who is responsible for each task during the implementation process. This will provide accountability, clarity, and a well-defined timeline of tasks that need to be completed. It will also keep stakeholders informed throughout the process.


It's also essential to ensure all of the necessary data is collected prior to the start of the project. Without accurate data, it could result in costly errors or significant delays in the implementation. It is also important to allocate adequate resources to the project. Having skilled resources available to work on the project will ensure that everything gets done in a timely manner.


Communication is key to any successful implementation. During the process, it's essential to communicate regularly with stakeholders and team members. This will help keep everyone updated on the progress of the project and any changes that may come up.


Finally, testing the ERP software. Testing helps identify potential problems that could arise during implementation, allowing them to be addressed before they become costly or lead to delays. Proper testing should be done on all aspects of the system, including user interfaces, data migrations, and integrations. This can help ensure that your ERP solution will be up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible.


By following these tips, you can ensure that your ERP solution implementation goes as smoothly as possible and avoid costly delays.


Find Your ERP Solutions at John Hannan LLC

Are you unsure of what an ERP solution could do for your business? Are you having difficulty deciding which ERP solution to choose? Do you need help determining suitable customizations for your ERP solution? Are there any pitfalls you should be aware of when implementing an ERP solution? Are there any best practices to keep in mind when selecting and deploying an ERP solution? Have you considered the potential security risks associated with an ERP solution? Are you uncertain of the timeline for implementing an ERP solution?


Whatever questions you have about your ERP implementation, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

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