Top 3 Causes of a Failed ERP Project

Nurturing your ERP project to success requires resources beyond your wildest expectations. These resources include your time and money, and they are poured into achieving ERP success. Very rarely are they diverted towards analysing causes of failed ERP projects. 3 key variables should be examined - if neglected they can be the downfall of the ERP process.


To fully-understand the importance of communication during an ERP project, it is helpful to imagine the “ERP supply chain”. From vendor to user, the ERP process is remarkably similar to any supply chain found in manufacturing and distribution. As is the case in these industries, communication is key to the supply chain's success.

Key stakeholders in the ERP project must be in constant contact. Requirements gathering, purchasing decisions and go-live will all fail if users, systems, IT, C-level and management aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet. The supply chain will grind to a halt and everyone involved will blame the adjacent parties. The required communication cannot simply be a weekly update of the summarised minutes from the impromptu conversation at the watercooler between the cousin of the PM and the estranged wife of someone in purchasing. It has to be the genuine communication of ideas and aspirations of all involved.


In the words of Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power”. Few processes in life fail to benefit from thorough research, and the ERP process is no different. A failed ERP project can occur due to poor requirements research, a lack of independent advice and hasty decision making - all of which can be rectified through proper research. Whether this is analysing the ERP market thoroughly or seeking advice on a specific issue, research will liberate you from the shackles of ERP uncertainty, allowing you to gain peer and executive support.

Change Management

When it comes to managing changes, it is wise to listen to a certain Mr David Bowie - “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strain”. Adaptation to change is not an idle process. Whether you are training your ERP users to use a new interface, or prioritising ERP requirements after unexpected budget changes, you have to be prepared to accept changes and act upon them. Workarounds and foreign processes only lead to a disillusioned workforce and a sceptical c-level.

If these 3 journeys to a failed ERP project haven't scared you enough, we summarised 9 more reasons for ERP failure in a recent slideshare presentation.

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Richard Barker

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Richard Barker

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