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How to avoid ERP implementation failures in the planning stages

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The estimated figures may vary wildly depending on the analyst, but it’s clear that a high percentage of ERP implementation projects ultimately fail, with some high-profile companies getting it publicly wrong over the years. Some experts suggest it’s around 60%, others have it as high as 75%, but they all concur on one thing: that the project failures are not brought about by the software itself in action, but instead are caused way before then, at the planning stage. Hasty, uninformed decisions made in the initial phases will almost always doom a project from the outset, rather than result in the desired increased efficiency and productivity. As a reminder to slow down to get it right, think S.P.E.E.D:


A successful ERP implementation is all about creating enough time in advance to do sufficient planning and having a project strategy that is in line with your core business objectives. Put together a project team from across the business functions to hone requirements; do some competitor analysis; and construct a detailed RFP. You can’t spend too many hours on this part of the process.


Sending out an accurate RFP will solicit responses from those vendors that should be the best fit for your project requirements. You may need sector expertise from a partner, or have specific growth or customisation plans to accommodate, and this will help narrow your choice down until you can confirm the best vendor for your transformation plans.


Most organisations don’t have the in-house expertise to guide a company through an ERP implementation and it’s important to understand that while IT departments will of course be heavily involved, they cannot undertake this project alone. There are plenty of project management specialists out there and investment in this talent, on an interim basis, is wise. A consultant will be able to anticipate issues based on previous experience and ensure that timescales and budgets remain on track.


Every ERP implementation needs total buy-in from all stakeholders, especially those whose role will change with the new tech. The end goal needs to be communicated from the outset as well as the journey to get there explained. Too often this true engagement is missing, with employees simply informed about new processes or systems, rather than involved throughout the process. In general, people are wary of change, so the positive benefits need to be highlighted to bring everyone on board.

Double check

Training users on the new technology or processes isn’t enough to go live with an implementation. It’s vital that day-to-day work is able to continue with no downtime when the software is upgraded, so it needs to be rigorously tested in advance, not just on simulated tasks, but under real conditions. Having the vendor test offsite is not the same as having a first-time user attempt their new working processes under normal conditions. Double checking everything will ensure a smoother implementation day.