ERP Wisdom in hindsight

Many companies embark on an ERP project believing they have all the bases covered and their IT people know what they are doing. Internal projects, steering committees and executives champions are all in place and the project proceeds.

Very few problems emerge in the early days of projects as it is really a preparation stage of gathering data, migrating data, training, software configuration, process review and procedures.

Somewhere down the line when the nitty gritty of what the software does and how an organisation can use it issues start to arise. Data that is not available in the form required needs to be obtained, unbudgeted for, data is not in an acceptable form and needs to be changed and cleaned-up, unbudgeted for, training is proving to be inadequate and more is required, unbudgeted for, changes to software and scope creep start to emerge, unbudgeted for and decisions need to be made, that are resisted by departments, are not made, all add to the ERP environment and potential disaster.

Add to these a blow-out in consultant costs, all seemingly legitimate but expensive and you have a recipe for disaster.

Thirty five years of experience in integrated MRPII and ERP systems I have seen a repeat of the above over and over and continuing to this day. The amount of money that goes into these projects, and lost, is staggering to the point organisations can be seriously financially and operationally compromised.

The blame game starts when the costs begin to hurt the organisation. The finger pointing starts in earnest! The vendor misled us, the company didn’t do what they said they would do, management wouldn’t get involved and make decisions, the software doesn’t work, we were not permitted to make process changes, the consultants were incompetent and lied to us and so on.

These are issues that have been around since the early days of MRPII. Are we really that slow we have learnt nothing? The statistics on failure are there for all to see! As high as 70% of organisations attempting to implement ERP fail to achieve the results expected. Massive cost blow-outs are the norm. Some companies have gone bankrupt attempting to implement ERP.

The solution is really quite simple. Do the work up-front pre-software purchase. Identify the issues that will need to be dealt with and design a model for how the software is to work and test the software through that model. Identify the data required and commence clean-up before you buy software etc.

Look at the 26 steps that must be covered to get it right the first time. Go to for details of the 26 steps. It’s free no cost and no obligation. We will even give you a free self-assessment program for you to look at what you are doing and evaluate yourself against. It could save you millions of dollars.

If this were a new technology we could understand teething problems in getting it implemented and working. Could you imagine continuing a space program with a failure rate of 70%? I think not!

We have all of the experience to ensure that every implementation should be a success learnt through many past failures. This hindsight should be a template for the future. Unfortunately it isn’t!

Experience worth listening to!

Ray Atkinson


The State of the ERP Industry

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ERP failures are not slowing! The complexity of ERP implementations and issues involved are simply not understood by most organisations and ends up as minor or major disasters.

Many organisations are oblivious to the problems they will face or believe that ERP is simply a technology project that the computer people will deal with, until the disaster happens. The growing demand for expert witness services or mediation in disputes between software vendors, integrators and clients is a good indicator of ERP problems and we do not see this dropping off any time soon.

ERP success and failure depends on where you sit in the equation. From an ERP software vendors and integrators perspective the project is a success if the software is installed and running, from the clients perspective they want the technology implemented and working for them on time and within budget.

Half implemented and abandoned ERP projects litter the landscape. Most ERP systems we are asked to get involved with are poorly specified, lack clear objectives, are late and are way over budget.

Shortcuts taken during the implementation stage always come back and bite during live running of the system and can result in crippling the company and costing ten-fold the cost of doing the job properly in the first place.

The message on risk of ERP projects is getting through. More and more organisations are spending more time researching ERP and how to approach it to ensure success. Unfortunately these organisations are overshadowed by the majority of organisations who simply believe they can pay a cheque and ERP will happen.
For a very small investment our book “Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) The Great Gamble” A guide to understanding and ERP project, outlines the issues that all CEO’s managers, and implementers should understand about an ERP project. The book is available from all book outlets and can save an organisation millions in preventing ERP failures.

Some other blogs available on our website include:

ERP Implementation Goals

ERP Vendor Integrity

ERP Expert Witness Services

Ray Atkinson

Experience worth listening to!