Why ERP problems exist in every implementation

Why are the words ERP and problem synonymous?

Here are the top two reasons:

1. ERP system problems go hand in hand with unrealistic implementation timelines and expectations.
2. ERP problems relate to the people involved and the process (or lack of it!) inside and outside the company.

Why outside the company?

Because all software companies have people and process too.

Every software implementation, regardless of the ERP software and industry type, will experience some people and process issues post implementation. Why? Because in most organizations this is a one time, major project and even though it may have been months in the planning, it is virtually impossible for the project manager to plan for every circumstance or to foresee all the problems.

Take ERP integration. The problem of integrating ERP applications with other systems is as old as the ERP industry itself. Typically organizations are still working to improve integration between the ERP modules and other legacy systems long after the implementation. At some point they need to determine what level of integration is acceptable.

One hotel franchise that had three different point-of-sale systems plus accounting software and spreadsheets, created an insurmountable task by trying to integrate everything into one ERP system. Eventually they had to reach a compromise with only two of the systems being fully integrated.

On a multi-company/multiple year end ERP project, the business cycle slowed to a halt while the staff struggled to synchronize accounting functions. Eventually all the processes were in sync but the ERP costs had escalated in the meantime.

ERP support can be another contentious issue. Everyone in the organization is very “needy” at the same time after an implementation and internal resources - the newly trained support people - get stretched very thin when the external trainers have moved on to the next project.

Causes of ERP failures - or are they “delayed successes”?

I would hesitate to term any implementation a failure but success always takes longer than anticipated. Take a look at what happened at an engineering company in this ERP Case Study. The bottom line is that no company is going to have a 100% positive implementation experience but the measure of success will be determined by how people handle the problems.

Need some good advice? Call, write, or e-mail me via my contact form


Barbara Craven

Box 433 Enderby BC V0E 1V0 Canada 1-250-838-6358

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