Nothing dooms any project as effectively as…

Nothing dooms any project as effectively as not involving the right people. When it comes to ERP, the “right people” are every person in the company who will use the system or be affected by what it does. Naturally, it isn’t possible, necessary, or desirable for every individual to participate, but every functional role must be represented from time to time. The problem is; what does “represented” mean? How far do we take this principle?

This is anecdotal, but we have acquired forty years’ worth of anecdotes and we know it to be true: when you ask any professional ERP implementer for three reasons why ERP projects they’ve worked on have failed, one of their answers will always be lack of access to key people.

Functional roles overlap and intersect, and it is inevitable that sometimes people in one role are expected to speak for people in another. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, the danger of unexpressed critical expectations is manifested. (Is Bill really aware of the exact moment in the order entry process that Mary has to know the customer’s credit limit? Maybe, maybe not.)

The other two answers will be “scope creep” – which, to an implementer, means “any change, for any reason, to what we thought we would have to do” – and “lack of management support.” In practice, it is impossible to separate lack of management support from lack of access to key people because when management is supportive, you get access to key people. So this is very often one problem, expressed two ways according to the point of view of the person you’re asking.

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