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Follow these steps when recovering from ERP project failure

An ERP implementation failure is a worst-case scenario. However, project leaders who follow these steps can still potentially salvage the project. Learn how to recover.

An ERP implementation failure is the worst-case scenario, and an implementation project team tries to avoid it at all costs. However, the implementation team can still potentially save the project, and the project leader should follow specific steps afterward to attempt to salvage it.

Some of these steps include creating a failure recovery plan and asking for executive support.

Here are the steps a project leader should carry out after an ERP implementation failure and why the steps can potentially help.

Create a plan

The project leader should first create a plan to decide how to approach the implementation issues.

The project leader should draw up a plan quickly but should understand the full scope of the issues causing the failure before jumping in. The leader can then prioritize the areas that need the most attention and work on building a schedule to address the issues. Creating a plan may help relieve pressure on team members to fix issues for the employees who are complaining the most about certain problems.

Go over the budget

The project team will require more money following implementation failure because of the costs of keeping implementation partners and employees who were loaned to the project working longer than planned. The team may also potentially need to add resources to address the issues.

The project leader should first review any remaining budget from the ERP implementation, then build an estimate of the required additional funds. Because the implementation failure is so urgent, the leader may not have time to build a detailed budget, so they should ask multiple people to look over the numbers. The leader should ask others to confirm the additional costs, make sure the budget doesn't include any mistakes and check that the budget is as detailed as possible.

The more times the project team has to request money, the worse it looks, so the leader should ensure the budget is right the first time.

Prioritize the right issues

The project leader should make sure employees and anyone using the system can easily share ERP system issues with the implementation team. Next, the leader must find a way to store the issues in an application so the team can review, prioritize and update the issues, then mark them as complete. If the project team did not already start using an application like this during the implementation, they may have to rely on the IT ticketing system or use a spreadsheet.

The team should then review the issues and prioritize the most urgent ones. Doing so ensures that the team addresses the most important issues first and not just the ones drawing the most complaints. For example, a project team should likely prioritize security and data corruption issues over usability issues.

Communicate with employees

If employees are experiencing significant issues, the project team should let them know the team is aware of the issues and is working on a plan to resolve them.

As the team builds out the recovery plan, they can share the highlights with employees. The team may also want to create a simple dashboard that they share with employees where team members list the issues, then mark them as complete. Employees can then see the team is making progress.

However, the team should skip this if creating the dashboard will take significant time away from resolving ERP system issues.

Put rapid fixes into production

The team should put a mechanism in place to incorporate fixes into the production ERP system on a regular basis rather than waiting weeks to address major issues. Employees will see the team's incremental progress and feel reassured that the implementation team is addressing the issues.

However, the project leader should ensure the team isn't bypassing steps that they must carry out before updates are pushed to production. For example, an implementation team member moving changes to the production ERP system may need to update the documentation first and confirm that the team has tested the changes.

Ask for executive support

Recovering from an ERP failure will require some level of executive support. At a minimum, the executive may serve as the team's champion at meetings when leaders discuss the ERP project, and the team may require the executive to approve more funds. In addition, an executive can help with employee messaging by reiterating the organization's commitment to addressing employees' ERP system issues.

The project team should keep this executive informed of progress. However, the group doesn't need to share details with the executive unless the executive asks for them.

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