What is the key to a successful ERP implementation?

ERP projects can be time consuming. costly and disruptive...

But when you have the key to making an implementation successful, it can be a time-well-spent, add value project for your organization.

Let me explain how I found the key...

My name is Barbara Craven and I am a business analyst, IT manager and Enterprise Resource Planning specialist. I have been implementating networks and software since the early days of the personal computer.

It was a pre Internet era when we migrated from mainframe systems with VT100 terminals to personal computers on local area networks.

Hard to believe I know, but it's not that long ago, really!

My first implementation of an MIS (management information system) as they called it back then, was in 1988 for an engineering company.

Since then I have worked on every conceivable type of large and small implementation project in a number of different industries.

On small business implementations, sometimes I was the only resource! I did everything from setting up hardware to configuring the software, preparing and entering the initial load data, training end users and customizing reports.

I always created "cross-over manuals" for end users. The manual contained copies of documents and screens from their old business process with instructions and examples of how to do it in the new system.

Life On The Road

I traveled from city to city across North America for many years learning a great deal about people, about process (or the lack of it!!) about hardware platform preferences and software solutions.

I have implemented everything from management information systems - the original business intelligence – to the versatile, multi-industry software systems of today that we call ERP.

Enterprise Resource Planning evolved from the business accounting software of thirty years ago, driven by a corporate need for better business intelligence.

I have worked with just about every industry - large corporations and small businesses - and they are all looking for a system that is capable of generating enterprise wide operational and financial data in real time with minimal overhead.

This is why they want to implement an ERP software solution.

Implementations need careful planning

Implementation projects are resource intensive and require careful planning. There is a lot to consider – not only software selection and hardware platforms, but also how to build a relationship with the right ERP software vendor and whether or not to use ERP consultants for the implementation.

Why is it that even with careful and detailed planning, many implementations complete in an expanded time frame, at greater cost and with less integration than anticipated?

I found the answer

The answer to that question came to me many years ago after meeting with a group of unhappy people at an engineering company - accounting staff, project managers and unit managers.

It was a typical post implementation scenario. I had been brought in to answer questions about the unfamiliar report formats and to hear general complaints about the new software system.

The project managers said they were not getting accurate project reports, the unit managers couldn’t tell how their departments were doing and the accounting people were unhappy about everything.

When there is this "general malaise" in an organization after an ERP software project it is because of the one key factor that is common to every implementation:


People can either sabotage the project or make it a success. It isn’t that people would make an implementation difficult intentionally - well, not in most cases although I have met a few.

If people are

- well informed about the ERP project scope and timeline
- know their individual roles thoroughly
- are given sufficient lead time to prepare and execute their tasks
- receive comprehensive software training

Then the project is off to a good start.

People do not embrace change easily.

Always remember that while the implementation team may be upbeat about the new software, fully focused on the implementation process and ready with all the tools, spreadsheets and timelines, everyone else is still focused on their own daily routines, projects and deadlines.

People have heard about “the new system”, but most have no concept of the impact it will have on their work.

After the implementation, everyone from the top management down is either processing or getting their information in an unfamiliar format - everything takes extra effort.

It is amazing how easily people get frustrated by little changes in their routine.

So here is some “ERP common sense”

When you are planning an implementation, consider people first. In one way or another, an implementation is going to involve or affect every single person in your organization.

Source your ERP software company carefully. You want their key people to have an exceptional range of expertise and experience.

The same goes for your system developers and the database administrators and the IT team. They are people too.

Your consulting firm should have in-depth knowledge of your ERP software. Make sure that their people are not just one page ahead of your people in the user manuals.

The bottom line is that if you have all the right people, an implementation will not fall short of the target, or drag on for months longer than anticipated, or be poorly received by the end users.

I keep close tabs the ERP world of today and how people and process have evolved in business. I test and evaluate software solutions and share the knowledge.

These days I consult mostly from behind my computer but I still like to get out on the road, helping with pre-purchase software decisions and people issues!

I am just a click away if you would like some advice so please feel free to call, write, or e-mail via my contact page.


Barbara Craven

1978 Pleasant Valley Road, Armstrong BC Canada V0E 1B2. 1-250-546-5021 1-250-517-0335

Table of Contents

ERP Blog
ERP Blog is a compilation of my insights and common sense advice on how to implement ERP successfully. I write primarily about the people involved in implementing ERP or CRM systems
ERP Definition
ERP definition - What's in a name? You will be very surprised when you find out the true ERP definition! They say there is nothing new under the sun and that applies to ERP...
ERP Software Solution
It could be one of the most important decisions your company makes! ERP software solution considerations and what you must do prior to selecting software
ERP Consulting
It could be a good investment but find out if you really need ERP consulting and project management resources for your implementation project
Implementing ERP
I can guarantee that implementing ERP in your organization will turn out to be a major undertaking! Before you even think about starting the project, study these helpful hints
ERP Software Vendor
You will want to have an up close and personal relationship with your ERP software company of choice! Here are tips on ERP software vendor due diligence prior to making a software investment
Cloud technology
Cloud technology could support your ERP software solution or help you evaluate the options
Project Management
Want to deliver your project on time, on budget and within the agreed scope? Excellent project management is key!
ERP workflow
ERP workflow: what should happen before, during and after an implementation to ensure a smooth workflow
ERP problems
Find out why ERP problems exist in every implementation, how to anticipate them and, more importantly, discover how to deal with them in a timely manner
our global community
Our global community of ERP people
About me ERP-common-sense.com
About me, ERP Common Sense and Barbara Craven
contact me
Contact me to ask questions about your ERP implementation or ERP project management in general