There are lots of ways the acquisition, development, installation and launch of an ERP software system can go wrong, even with a negotiated contract that spells out in detail what the software vendor and integrator will do, when they will do it, and what they will be paid for doing it.
Even still, some projects end up a “train wreck,” as I’ve blogged about frequently before and most recently last week,
For the user paying attention, often there are telltale signs that their ERP software implementation is going off the tracks. When the managers or executives who are responsible for a company’s project notice any of these indicators, they need to move quickly to ensure that the ERP train stays on schedule.
Meet With The ERP Vendor’s Senior People Before Signing- Don’t rely on what the sales team tells you; their interest is in closing the deal. If senior people from the ERP software vendor won’t meet with you before you sign to go through the project’s details and what you expect the ERP system to do, that’s an early warning that your project isn’t all that important to the company.
You Begin Wondering If The ERP Vendor Understands Your Business- Sometimes, to make a sale a software vendor claims to have deep experience in a customer’s industry. But as the project unfolds, it becomes clear that they really don’t understand the nuances about things such as your unique inventory or billing requirements demand a meeting with the ERP vendor’s senior executives.
The Software Vendor Starts Missing Deadlines- As an ERP software system attorney who drafts contracts, I write a specific timeline into the deal. If the ERP vendor begins missing deadlines or milestones, it’s a warning that something is wrong. Get your consultant and attorney involved right away.
The Consultant Makes Excuses For The Developer- The consultant is your advocate, not the ERP vendor’s. If the consultant won’t demand reasonable explanations for any issues that arise as the system is being implemented, find a new consultant.
After Signing, The Software Vendor Suggests Making Changes- Sometimes, there are legitimate reasons for an ERP vendor asking to alter the requirements spelled out in a statement of work or project plan. But more often, it’s a sign that something is wrong. You need to intervene to find out what is going on.
During Installation, Deliverables Don’t Meet The Contract’s Requirements- If the consultant and integrator are doing their jobs, this should not be happening. But if it does, you need to demand to know why you are not getting what was promised. Everybody involved in the project should be present: software vendor, consultants, integrator. Don’t accept excuses, demand specific answers. The old adage about if something can go wrong, it will, and when one thing goes wrong everything will does not need to apply to an ERP software system.
As an ERP software system litigation attorney who has dealt with these cases for more than a decade, I often find that a lawsuit could have been avoided if the customer who ordered a new or upgraded ERP software system had stepped in at the first sign of trouble. Too frequently, they let a problem slide past, accepting the excuses or rationale of the software vendor or integrator about why something isn’t really a major issue when it was truly a big deal.
Granted, ERP is a very complex system with many moving parts that all need to fit together like a kind of Rubik’s Cube. If the “colors” are not all lined up perfectly, the puzzle cannot be solved. If you’re concerned about what’s happening with your ERP system, feel free to give me a call. I’ll be glad to help you avoid your own ERP software train wreck.