by Johan Marais

Nailing ERP Projects

Project Types

ERP Projects
ERP Projects

Observing the decision makers who select an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can be something of a study of the human condition. From the highs of imagined benefits and anticipated advantages, to the lows of failed expectations and ballooning costs, all the emotions of life play out in this arena. This is because a great deal of ERP projects are not in fact delivered on time, on deadline and within budget. Ensuring that your ERP project is not one of these requires stringent project management which starts with a healthy dose of realism and a good project manager who doesn’t expect to be the most popular person in the office.

ERP projects are by their very definition complex and very demanding on all those involved. The benefits of a good ERP solution are abundantly clear, but getting to those benefits is rarely a simple process. At the start of such initiatives, the project manager has to make certain allowances with regards to budgets and time, and then rigidly stick to them.

ERP projects tend to be lengthy and therefore one should anticipate that people will get disheartened. Also the unexpected ­– such as addition of new features or modules which were never part of the initial plan – will crop up regardless of how hard you try to avoid them.

These realities need to be acknowledged from the start, putting you in a position to more accurately plan execution and manage expectations.Once the configuration and implementation of the software is underway, attention quickly turns to the quality of the data. Despite the fact that ‘Garbage in garbage out’ is a widely accepted truth in the ICT industry, data is a constant problem. Not only are there routinely issues with duplicates and inconsistent formatting, but in many instances the data simply isn’t provided in good time.

What’s more many business owners are reluctant to spend money on two critical activities which are perceived to be ‘low-value’: testing and change management.

Testing depends on using the data sets which will be processed in the production system. Unless this is performed thoroughly there is no real way to be sure how the system will perform when live. However, it is a routinely neglected discipline which many managers see as a costly inconvenience which is actually a critical step. Similarly, change management is crucial and if the users reject the system, it simply cannot perform.

All the above factors are necessities of successful project delivery and it is up to the project manager to take a firm hand in ensuring they are done properly if the advantages of the new system are to become a reality.

As a result, good project managers tend to be seen as the cause of the seemingly unreasonable demands associated with a well-executed ERP project. They have to be resolute; making sure that everyone sticks to deadlines and milestones and need to devise and implement change management strategies, as well as source data and make sure it is tested.

Johan Marais, Country Manager, HansaWorld
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