What determines system acceptance in ERP projects?

The establishment of explicit ownership of expectations determines the course of system acceptance in three ways:

  • It tells the implementation team, both internal and external, exactly who must be satisfied by their work and what the team must deliver in order to satisfy them.

  • It compels the expectation-owners to accept that they are satisfied if the criteria they themselves have set down in the SOW are met; this would be toothless, except that it also requires expectation-owners (and their management, up to the highest level) to commit to participating in the acceptance process at every point set forth in the SOW. This requirement is the sellers’ salvation, because no seller will ever allow itself to be required to accept a SOW that does not explicitly grant them every bit of the access to expectation-owners that they, the sellers, deem necessary and sufficient. That is, they will never allow themselves to become hostage to the buying company’s own nonperformance. And that means that penalties for nonperformance have to cut both ways.

  • It is the means of embedding the participation of expectation-owners throughout the project. The intention is to provoke the discovery of gaps and disconnects (which are inevitable) at the earliest possible point in the process (which is anything but inevitable). Experience has shown that it is common that when a late project failure is discovered (or, more accurately, seems to announce itself) it was not anyone’s business to monitor the critical unmet expectation during the project’s earlier phases. This is true even where that expectation was expressed, even publicly expressed, prior to project startup. Only the structured participation of the expectation’s owners can ensure that the failure is noticed and prevented.