No one wants to experience a project delay. Expensive, complex, and strategically important projects are even less friendly to schedule problems, and ERPs are no exception. Unfortunately, sometimes delays happen and the project team needs to be aware of the risks that could arise if the target completion date slips.
Cost is often the primary concern, particularly as the overall price of the initiative goes up. But if that’s the only thing you’re focused on, then you’re going to miss a host of other potentially even bigger issues.
If your ERP implementation is in jeopardy of falling behind the planned timeline, consider these other risks that could cost you more than money in the end.
You fall farther behind.
ERP platforms offer powerful capabilities that help enterprises craft more efficient processes and streamline or automate workflows. Your employees may be able to save time, deliver better customer service, and make better business decisions faster. Modern ERP systems also often support integration with other systems both internally and throughout your business network. This enables you to move data faster and with fewer errors. The additional functionality may help you cut costs, realize revenue faster, tap into new customer segments, and move products and services to market more quickly.
The longer your workers continue with the current practices, the more any existing inefficiencies burrow deeper into your workflows. Your competitors may have time to jump ahead of you while you wait for your ERP to go live, and you could be forced to put significant time and energy into catching up.
Your software ages, even if it hasn’t been installed yet.
Unplanned schedule extensions could mean that features you chose during the planning phase will be different by the time your ERP goes live. They may have evolved, been bundled along with other functionalities you didn’t expect, or even removed in favor of a completely revamped version.
The results of these changes can be wide reaching. Your planned workflow updates may need to be revised and the way new capabilities work could decrease how much efficiency you’re able to gain once the new system is active. There’s also the possibility you’ll be left with training materials that are out of date, integrations that need reworking, and complementary systems that are no longer as compatible as you’d like them to be.
Your senior staff loses confidence in your project team.
Project delays often trigger direct questions about why the schedule wasn’t maintained and how additional timeline slides can be avoided. Because ERP implementations involve significant financial outlays and they typically play a key role in enabling the organization to achieve one or more strategic goals, those inquiries could be accompanied by other unwanted consequences. The executives may no longer trust the project updates they receive from your team or their commitment to a strong project management function could waver.
Your end users lose confidence in the new ERP system.
Technology projects often uncover some hesitancy among various end user segments to change their normal workflows. When something goes wrong in the project’s timeline, it could increase this resistance. Users may worry that delays signal the system isn’t as powerful as they’ve been told or that the final migration to the new platform will be similarly problematic. Concerns about a drop in productivity associated with the switch to the new ERP might continue through to the cutover date, potentially hampering end user engagement efforts and leading to weak adoption across your business. Moving users away from their familiar routines will be exponentially more difficult if they don’t believe the ERP will be an improvement.