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Murphy’s Law (the simple, folk version) states that what can go wrong will, and at the worst possible time. Whether they admit it or not, this is the mindset of the vast majority of employees when it comes to system implementations. From the staff accountant to the VP of operations, there is a high level of doubt that a system implementation of any kind will be successful.

Why is this pessimism so pervasive? The answer is simple: experience.

Almost everyone has an implementation horror story where the go-live date was pushed out a year, vendors weren’t paid for six months, accounting was unable to close the books, or the budget was blown away. Or all of the above!

If asked what caused these issues in past implementations, the most common answer is, “That’s just how these things go,” as if the implementation gods are in control and waiting to impose Murphy’s Law on the project.

Truth is, there are proven ways an organization can modify their implementation approach to prevent Murphy’s Law from overtaking the project. (Author’s note: I realize that Sheldon Cooper would fill up a whiteboard with formulas proving that, mathematically, Murphy’s Law can’t be prevented. But that’s not the point of this article!)

There are three oft-overlooked steps in an ERP implementation, which companies can incorporate into their implementation approach to drastically increase the probability of success:

1. Invest time and effort in the selection and planning phase

Understand what every function is responsible and accountable for in the current state. Appreciate the amount of change an organization can absorb at one time when developing the implementation timeline. Develop a detailed and realistic budget that takes into account the magnitude and complexity of the implementation.

2. Understand the upstream and downstream impacts of the key business processes

Conduct cross-functional design sessions to ensure that suppliers and customers of a process understand the requirements. This will prevent the system from being designed and configured in isolation, thus avoiding failure when attempting to integrate the system modules and associated business processes.

3. Clearly document decisions as they are made

Too often, companies run in to trouble by failing to document decisions and revisiting them unnecessarily. Doing this ultimately results in rework and delays. Decisions should be clearly communicated and documented in a log maintained by the project manager. These decisions should be revisited only when changes in the business require the project team to change course. 

There will always be bumps in the road when implementing and deploying an ERP system. However, by performing the activities described above, a company can significantly reduce the probability of the worst possible outcome happening at the worst possible time.

Trenegy helps companies successfully manage ERP implementations using a proprietary project and change management methodology. We help our clients get value of out their new system quickly and relatively painlessly.

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