Recently a friend who is an experienced IT manager in the industrial sector passed along an article titled “ERP Disasters: Are Clients Incompetent (or are Consultants Mostly to Blame)?” authored by Steve Phillips, an ERP Consultant and author of the book “Control Your ERP Destiny”.
We thought the author’s points were timely and cogent with respect to why ERP projects sometimes fail, and so we summarize them today in our post below. Phillips notes how frequently vendors assign blame upon project failure to a host of client-related factors, among which he lists:
- Was not committed to the project,
- Refused to contain the scope,
- Would not assign the right employees to the project,
- Failed to carry out their project responsibilities,
- Could not make decisions in a timely fashion,
- Saw no need or had no desire to learn the software,
- Modifying the system to the point it was no longer recognizable,
- Did not want to deal with organizational change,
- Refused to redesign their business processes,
- The list goes on and on…,
Now, as Phillips admits, if clients ignore the key drivers of ERP success, they probably get what they deserve. But, he thought, these reasons stated just don’t sound logical. Why would otherwise successful, well-managed, profitable, growing, intelligent companies spend all that money and yet fail to deploy?
The key, in a nutshell, he points out, lies in taking ownership. Don’t confuse the ability to take project ownership with having all the “ideal” skills or perfect employees. Quoting from the article:
“Creating ownership requires the right approach, but in a nutshell it starts with assigning the right employees to the project, and then establishing clear project responsibilities, expectations, and deliverables. This breeds a heightened sense of accountability and a deeper level of involvement.
When you feel accountable for something and are more involved, your level of commitment starts to increase. Eventually, you own it and become even more committed to making it happen. But again, this entire process does not occur by chance. In terms of ERP, ownership and commitment is required to learn the software, overcome obstacles, address business issues, develop solutions, and drive the project to completion. These are the very reasons that client ‘ownership and commitment’ are required for project success”
Ultimately he advises, because too many implementation and consulting firms are only interested in maximizing their billable hours and getting “as many consultants in the door as is humanly possible,” companies need to keep a few key things in mind:
- Be frank and honest internally with client senior managers about project expectations (who fear falling out of favor by delivering bad news)
- Become as self-reliant as you can in order to reduce project risk
- Keep a focus on utilizing proper techniques and have a comprehensive plan [a “roadmap”, as we always like to call it]
- Remember, the vendors will not run their business on your new software – you will. Since the organization thus owns the outcome either way, “it is in your best interest to take ownership from the very beginning.”