Beat ERP Project Challenges

Published Sep 14, 2020

Successfully Navigating ERP Implementation Challenges

Your ERP implementation project is a worthwhile journey for your business. Putting the right business solution in place will help your organisation achieve its aims in both the long and the short term and will optimise your position in your industry.

But it’s not always plain sailing. Just like any worthwhile endeavour, you can expect to hit some heavy weather along the way, and you will have to be able to overcome any obstacles you encounter.

There is no need to fear, however. You simply need to adopt the right approach to implementation, bringing everyone on board as you work towards your business objectives. We’ve outlined some of the key challenges you can expect to face on your journey, as well as how to successfully navigate these obstacles. Let’s take a look.

ERP Implementation Challenges

1. Lack of engagement in the ERP project

Everyone needs to be engaged in the project, understanding why implementation is so important to the business. If any member of your team is disengaged or cannot sustain their engagement for the duration of the project, it will become very difficult to achieve successful implementation.

How to overcome this:

Build engagement from the top down. This begins with executive sponsorship — or a member of your executive or upper management team who oversees, and is passionate about, the project. This individual will be able to sign-off on project initiatives at a high level, saving time and boosting efficiency. Gaining executive sponsorship in this way will demonstrate the business-critical nature of the implementation project. It will also give team members at all levels the confidence they need in the project to become passionate and engaged themselves.

2. Poorly defined goals for your ERP implementation

What exactly are you aiming for during the roll-out of your ERP? What constitutes success for the project, and when do you expect to see the results of this success? Too many businesses cannot answer these questions, and the implementation project suffers as a result. Without well-defined goals, your team — and the project — becomes directionless.

How to overcome this:

Putting together a business case will help you and your team to understand exactly how your ERP implementation project will benefit each area of your organisation. From here, you can form clearly defined objectives for the project, as well as decide on the key metrics you will use to measure success in each area. With critical milestones defined, your team will benefit from a clear route towards implementation success. Read our article ‘How to Create a Business Case for ERP (That Will be Approved!)’ for tips.

3. Difficulty in teaching and training new skills

The ERP business solution will bring great changes to your organisation. These changes will be felt at every level, and personnel across a wide range of teams will have to take on and adapt to new roles and duties. You cannot expect team members to automatically transition into their new capacities. Without a systematic program of training and support, cracks will quickly begin to show in the new solution.

How to overcome this:

Make training and education key elements within your change management plan. Assign a change management team and assign this team the task of overseeing ongoing support. Focus on giving team members skills that they themselves can pass on and instill in other members of staff, particularly new hires and onboarded members. This way, the ERP solution will quickly become part of your organisational culture, and the adoption of the solution will be sustainable in the long term. Discover the 7 Reasons Good Change Management is Crucial for ERP Projects.

4. Tailoring the ERP solution to your business

An ERP is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, many ERP solutions are now designed to be customised and tailored to meet the needs of the implementing organisation. This is great news for businesses who can achieve a solution that is perfectly balanced in a way that suits their requirements. However, customisation can be tricky. And, many organisations fail to complete this phase of implementation in the right way, resulting in a solution that is simply not fit for purpose.

How to overcome this:

Work with the right software and implementation partner. This partner will work with you to understand your unique business aims, objectives, needs and requirements. They will then apply their own ERP system expertise in order to make sure the solution checks each and every box. Spend some time researching different partners and make sure the one you work with is fully equipped to provide you with what you need. Our ‘Top Tips for Selecting the Right ERP Software Partner’ will help you get started on this.

5. Lack of cohesion during ERP roll-out

Even when your goals and objectives are well-defined, a lack of cohesion in your business solution implementation project can be disastrous. When teams work in isolation — effectively siloing their efforts — problems begin to arise. Individual staff members may become so focused on their own area of implementation that they fail to see the bigger picture. Teams may begin to overlap, leading to inefficiency as different teams work on the same tasks without any knowledge of what other teams are working on. On the flip side of this, gaps may begin to open as teams are unsure which duties they are responsible for. Team members may also become unsure of how the solution integrates with existing business practices, which only exacerbates the problem.

How to overcome this:

Keep lines of communication open and underpin this with weekly meetings and updates that keep each and every team on the same page. Make sure your change management team is overseeing the entire process, so all existing business practices are integrated with the solution and all teams are aware of what they need to be doing and when. Foster an open culture of questioning and feedback, ensuring that all of your people feel comfortable enough to seek the support they need. Read more about how to effectively manage change and avoid miscommunication in the team and wider business.

A Roadmap to ERP Implementation Success

Just like any big change to your business, the road may be tricky to navigate, but the rewards are worth the journey. Certainly, there are obstacles and challenges along the way. But, with the right approach, your team will overcome these and will emerge stronger on the other side.

To learn more about each of the challenges and obstacles outlines above, and to explore in more detail exactly how to ensure your team achieves success during your ERP implementation, download our handy 12 step guide ‘How to Prepare Your Business for a Successful ERP Project’.