75% of ERP implementations deliver more pain, less gain

Over the years that I helped clients install brand name Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, a common complaint was that vendors “over promised and under delivered.”

Have you ever been part of an implementation? It’s like suffering through a root canal for 12 months: once it’s over, you’re still in pain. Typically, this is how it works: a business case is made that promises improvements in some component of ongoing operations. Requirements are gathered, configuration happens, piloting will usually occur and then the big rollout (or, in some cases, the “Big Bang”).

How often does the reality live up to the promise? According to Gartner and McKinsey, less than 26 percent of the time. Can you imagine if three out of four root canal procedures were unsuccessful? Do you think the FDA would allow dentists to continue performing the procedure? The reasons the implementations often don’t live up to their promises are many, but, what do you do when you’re halfway through an ERP implementation and it’s proving more disruptive than productive?

This is typically where the “partnership” that both sides professed early on starts to fall apart. Rather than focusing on addressing the problems or the misunderstanding, usually there is an investigation, fingers are pointed and then the negotiations begin as to the solution. Not surprisingly, the new solution requires yet more money, and somehow, despite the best corporate negotiators, the customer ends up footing the bill.

Since the facts show that this happens more often than not, is there a benefit to a guarantee from the software partner? If a vendor’s entire compensation were tied to the same performance requirements as the customer’s, would that help raise the average for successful technology-based projects?

I want Foresight to be the painless dentist of ERP — delivering a demand forecasting solution that lives up to the promises. I want to challenge all the software vendors — whether they provide value chain management or not — out there to match Foresight and guarantee they will refund their customers’ money if the ERP implementation doesn’t go as promised.