Why Do ERP Software Implementations Fail?


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Why Do ERP Software Implementations Fail?

ERP software is no doubt a critical component in today’s business frontiers. It helps companies stay competitive and relevant. However, lurid media stories often make us reluctant to fully embrace all the advantages ERP can offer.

Actually, ERP software fails are not as dramatic or even as common as some, ahem, media outlets would have us believe. Not surprisingly, the most graphically portrayed ERP fails have occurred within federal and municipal agencies.

Since the typical bureaucracy isn’t renowned for intrepid leadership or planning, but rather is better known for dropping the ball and then pointing fingers, one may be forgiven for raising a dubious brow when state and federal agencies squawk that they suffered an "ERP fail."

Not to mention the same parties tend to continue to cling to technology so outdated it sounds as archaic as Ben Franklin flying a kite in an electrical storm, ensuring that modern software integrates poorly with their ancient relics left over from a less tech-savvy time.

The Fail of the Roman Empire

So why do ERP implementations most often fail?

Businesses can rest assured that ERP software typically doesn’t fail because they have chosen the wrong software for their industry.

And it’s usually individual departments within a company that suffer internally. ERP implementation failures usually do not collapse entire empires. This is not stated to downplay the effects software failure can have on a company. Failure to ship product and keep track of inventory is catastrophic to any company’s reputation and profit margin.

However, software is a tool like a knife. Knives don’t cut people, people use knives to cut others. People can cut up a company with improperly implemented software.

Also, ERP fails are often wrought from over-inflated expectations of the software itself—as if it’s not a tool at all but some sort of modernized Roman Sybil. However, there is no software that absolves people’s failures to properly implement it, adapt to it, and fully learn the software so it can fulfill its intended potential.

The bottom line is that unless ERP software is so badly coded that it’s an automatic fail upon deployment, people are most often the culprit behind its failure.

All Codes Lead to Rome

So if people are the underlying cause of ERP failures, then ultimately people are the solution.

Software coders avoid ERP failure by brave & diligent coding created by the best available talent; by understanding system requirements from the onset of a project; making full use of intimate collaboration; and focusing on people and the needs of the business rather than strictly narrowing their vision to technical processes.

On the business end of the matter, ERP failure can begin to be mediated before the software is even deployed by making sure everyone involved in the project has realistic expectations concerning the software: Using ERP software as a solution-providing tool, not a digital savior absolving us of all responsibility.

Communication & collaboration are paramount to all of those involved, from the end-users to the design team during development, deployment and beyond.

Make sure everyone is thoroughly educated and trained in the use of the software so it can fulfill its full potential.

Most of all, strong leadership is required on the parts of the company and design team to help everyone through critical transition and integration times because:

Great empires are not maintained by timidity.”


If your empire is experiencing tension over ERP implementation, contact The Intellection Group. They can help guide you through the pitfalls of ERP implementation from the beginning of the project to routine maintenance. Or give a call at 678-283-4283.

ERPDave Bernard