Blog / Delivery

Mastering Delivery Success: 7 Common ERP Project Pitfalls

Avatar photo
Written by: S4A IT Solutions Trusted implementer of SAP® solutions
Posted on: April 29, 2024

As businesses globally seek ways to stay ahead of the curve through technology, the need for seamless project execution has never been greater. Nowhere is this truer than in the realm of IT project implementation, where the complexities of technology and the demands of stakeholders converge.

At S4A we’ve been at the forefront of guiding organizations through complex IT implementations and have a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in these endeavors. S4A Vice President of Delivery, Tim Holter, has been in the SAP delivery space for almost three decades and has been at helm of several successful implementations during that time. Time and again, he has seen how seven key pitfalls can derail even the most well-planned projects.

In this multi-part series, we identify these seven common pitfalls and share insights on how to best navigate them.

Pitfall #1: Lack of Executive Buy-in

According to Holter, lack of executive buy-in is a common stumbling block, especially in large projects like ERP implementations. “People have their day jobs,” he explains, “and they’re not hired specifically for the project. And those day jobs will often take priority.” Without strong support from the top, employees may not prioritize the project appropriately. Executive buy-in is crucial to make individuals feel safe and supported in dedicating time to the project.

Pitfall #2: Improper Stakeholder Representation

“Something you don’t want is ‘making decisions by committee’,” Holter points out. “Decisions need to be made in a timely manner to stay on track and on budget as projects require a very concerted focus in a condensed period of time.”

This comes down to engaging key stakeholders early on and ensuring their requirements are heard and considered and that they are well-represented in the decision-making process. Neglecting stakeholder input can result in decreased end-user adoption and put the project at financial risk.

Pitfall #3: Failure to Resource Properly

Putting the right people on a project is essential for success.

“You generally want your best and brightest on a project of significant importance,” Holter advises. “Someone who understands the business intricately, may have historical knowledge that isn’t documented elsewhere, and has good interpersonal relationships. Someone people at your organization trust.”

Your IT consultant implementation partners will bring the advanced system knowledge and industry experience to help drive project success, but no one knows your business better than your star performers. So, give them a leading role! A strong, well-connected team is way more likely to drive five-star reviews.

Pitfall #4: Mediocre Organizational Change Management

Large transformational projects often face pushback from employees accustomed to existing processes.

“People tend to be change-resistant,” Holter points out. “We may be going into an organization and moving thousands of people from a paper-based system that they have followed for decades and putting a mobile device in their hands and saying ‘use this instead’. It’s important to manage this high impact change properly.”

Organizational Change Management (OCM) is about preparing the organization for upcoming changes, ensuring frequent communication, involvement in design and testing, and providing support for end users. Neglecting OCM can lead to low end-user adoption rates, undermining the project’s success.

Pitfall #5: Scope Creep

Holter refers to scope creep as the “death of a thousand cuts” for a project. Defining scope during the blueprinting phase and managing requirements through a strict control process is crucial. Any changes to cost, scope, or schedule should require a change request, approved by the client. Without this discipline, the project risks becoming chaotic and ineffective. Just as each cut may seem insignificant on its own, individual changes to the project scope may appear minor at first glance. However, when these changes accumulate over time, they can significantly impact the project’s timeline, budget, and overall success.

Pitfall #6: Poor Data Management

“Organizations need data to make timely and accurate business decisions,” Holter shares. “Whether it is looking at the history of equipment failure in order to streamline preventative maintenance or finding ways to optimize supply chain operations, accurate and timely data is key.”

Getting this data and transforming it for use in an ERP, sometimes from a variety of antiquated tools (like spreadsheets and legacy database systems) can be tremendously challenging. Companies often underestimate the effort needed for data cleansing, extraction, transformation, and loading.

Pitfall #7: A Lack of End User Adoption

The success of a project depends on the end users’ ability to effectively utilize the new system. Training should be hands-on, meaningful, and timely, with support from a super-user network within the organization. Leveraging modern tools like in-app help and recorded training can enhance the effectiveness of training efforts. Thorough and well-thought-out user training is critical for ensuring users feel comfortable and confident with the new system.

Involving end users early in the design process and following a user-centric design approach can increase adoption rates. Robust training ultimately has a direct correlation to end user adoption, which is key to realizing the benefits of a project.

“The adage ‘if you build it, they will come’ does not always work when it comes to a new implementation. Successful user adoption requires proactive efforts to engage, support, and solicit feedback from users throughout the entire process.”

Navigating Project Pitfalls with Confidence

Effective project management is the cornerstone of successful IT initiatives, but it’s not without its challenges. By proactively addressing common pitfalls such as scope creep, stakeholder management, and user adoption, organizations can set themselves up for success.

At S4A, we understand the importance of overcoming these obstacles and are committed to helping businesses achieve their goals. If you’re ready to embark on your next implementation project or need assistance navigating challenges along the way, contact us today.

Let's stay in touch

Subscribe to our newsletter for regular product updates, exclusive insights, and more!