ERP implementations are complex projects with a lot of moving parts. But there are so many seemingly higher priority risks on the radar that project managers can sometimes lose sight of more common perils that can still derail an initiative.
Before you get too far into your ERP project, consider if you’ve overlooked these other potential risks.
Inadequate data security. With all the disparate information streams that must be orchestrated in an ERP implementation initiative, maintaining constant awareness of your data security posture can be a challenge. Unfortunately, the risk of data loss or exposure is sometimes significant. A vendor using production data, for example, without strong data security protocols could compromise sensitive information and disrupt your ability to leverage information for daily operations. Ensure that you and your providers stay on top of security concerns and plan for routine checks to be sure everything is handled properly.
Poorly protected connection points. Numerous other systems may be scheduled to integrate with your new ERP solution, and each connection point represents a doorway for problems. Numerous targeted attacks have been traced back to connections with lackluster security measures, and even an unintended exposure could spring from one of these exposed entry points. Talk with your technology vendors and IT experts to develop a plan for deploying security measures across the areas where systems join. Pay particular attention to legacy platforms that may have limited security functionality or control over how connections are configured and protected.
Excessive user login privileges. Some new systems launch with default user levels that offer more access than is necessary. Take the time to map user credentials to their appropriate access tiers so you don’t inadvertently enable access that exceeds each person’s needs. Work with your HR team and department managers to confirm what’s required for the various roles in your organization and identify the access levels that best suit them.
Fear of change. You may have training sessions and materials on deck for users, but don’t underestimate the damage that reticent users can inflict on a new ERP implementation. Change is frequently difficult for people to embrace, and even those end users that attend training might still resist adopting new workflows, ditching old processes, or learning how to efficiently utilize the ERP system.
Waning sponsor support. ERP implementations are typically long in duration, and while your sponsors are probably eager about the project’s promised benefits today, you risk losing their interest over time. Even if key supporters remain engaged, it’s possible their confidence in the team’s ability to successfully execute the project and deliver the expected results could drop as the project evolves and the early excitement fades. But you’re likely to need your sponsors’ support as your ERP initiative moves forward and encounters the usual array of challenges. To ensure the project has the backing to overcome any hurdles that arise, it’s critical that you have a strategy in place to maintain sponsor engagement and keep the enthusiasm going through the entire project lifecycle.
Disappearing budgets. When your project has a significant chunk of money allocated to it and a long time to spend down the funds, it’s little surprise that other efforts may try to “borrow” from your budget. Short-term needs often seem more pressing when compared against the longer time horizon of an ERP implementation, making it difficult to prevent others from poaching your budget. Put your team on alert to this possibility so they can maintain a close eye on how the project’s resource consumption aligns with the forecasted budget figures and protect the funds you’ll need to reach a successful completion.