Cloud ERP implementations are rife with the potential for failure. However, some implementation problems occur so frequently they are easy to predict and guard against.
Addressing these challenges early and monitoring the overall process closely can ensure a smooth cloud ERP implementation and help avoid problems down the road.
Here are some common ERP implementation challenges and ways to tackle them.
1. Adequately identifying risks
Identify known risks early in the project so they can be tracked and resolved. This process can significantly reduce future challenges, yet many implementation teams miss the mark in this area. Some teams document the risks but don't regularly review the risk list to ensure they're resolved or on a path to resolution, while others don't sufficiently track the risks or address them at all.
Ignoring these known risks, then having them come to fruition at go-live, can jeopardize the ERP launch and demoralize the project team that worked hard to ensure the project was a success.
2. Gathering requirements in the right way
Document requirements and have stakeholders vet them. Common issues that can impact requirements include the following:
- The requirements are too high-level, so holding the vendor or implementation partner accountable when they aren't met is difficult.
- The requirements are incomplete because key stakeholders were not included in the requirements-gathering process. Some subject matter experts may be too narrowly focused on their team or department's needs. For example, a finance employee may not be familiar enough with accounts payable (AP) to adequately document AP's requirements. Consider what voices are truly represented in the group.
- The vendor's and implementation partner's information is out-of-date and doesn't reflect how the new ERP system should work in the future.
Pay proper attention to these requirements the first time around. Making changes after the fact could cost money, so ensure the schedule includes sufficient time to review the requirements after the implementation team has added the requirements to their templates.
3. Understanding change request policies
Avoiding change requests altogether is difficult, but documenting and reviewing requirements lowers the probability of future unplanned expenses. Create a clearly worded process related to change requests before signing a contact, because they can put a major strain on the budget and delay the project.
Some partners charge a fee not only for investigating the requested change and building the change request but also for the cost for the change request itself. Details about change requests are likely found in the contract and may also be included in the vendor's and implementation partner's supplemental documentation.
4. Anticipating project schedule issues
Review the proposed schedule in detail with key stakeholders before committing to a schedule with the implementation partner. Moving the go-live date can be very difficult and expensive because the implementation partner will have to keep resources on the project past the planned go-live date.
Avoid scheduling a go-live or a critical milestone around holidays involved countries observe, such as national independence days or the end of December, which contains a number of important holidays. Many people also take extended vacations during the summer, and project team members living in different regions or countries may have different holidays or vacation practices project leaders and their teams need to plan around.
5. Being proactive about backup resources
A key project team member may need to be absent for an extended period because of illness, personal reasons or unforeseen circumstances, so make sure to assign and budget for a backup resource for all key team members. Also check that your implementation partner has a backup for key resources on their team.
6. Creating true change management strategies
Employees may be eager to start using a new ERP system. However, some workers -- or even some vendors -- may not like change and would prefer to stay with the current system. While most people will use the new ERP system after go-live because they have to, excitement about the new system will reduce stress for the system users, increase the likelihood that the project will be successful post go-live and reduce the number of workarounds and spreadsheets employees may create if they don't trust the new ERP system.