Since the late 1960’s we have evolved computer systems from simple calculations for materials replenishment to fully integrated systems that we have today. We have struggled from the very beginning to get our heads around the vast capability of integrated systems and the potential benefits that can be achieved using the technology.
The transition from mostly manual systems to integrated systems has not been an easy one! Disasters litter the landscape, companies suffer massive budget overruns, business damage and internal frustrations in their attempts to implement and obtain the benefits often touted.
Disillusionment with the technology is widespread with many systems underperforming to expectations.
There are numerous publications written and consultants claiming to reveal the key to successful implementation or how to avoid an ERP disaster. Software vendors have their own proprietary “Proven Path” or similiar claims to successful implementation methods and many other consultants believe they have the answers to success.
Statistics however reveal a somewhat different picture. Despite billions of dollars spent on the ERP technology and the collective claims of successful implementation strategies the organisations implementing the technology are reporting poor results from their implementations.
Success and failure is difficult to quantify as success for some is simply turning the systems on to stop the implementation cash burn even though they may not achieve any significant benefits from the project. Others may report failure if they overrun the cost of implementation even if they achieve some benefits.
For organisations who believe they have successfully implemented their ERP system they are reporting around 50% of the benefits they expected. Many more have no measurable objectives or outcomes and are relieved to simply finish the project.
Others simply abandon the ERP project altogether whilst in a worse-case scenario organisations have been seriously financially injured or driven to bankruptcy.
Despite all of the claims of proven paths and keys to successful outcomes the reality is we are still in a major learning curve on how to both successfully implement and operate the ERP technology to achieve the optimum benefits.
The legacy of how we run organisations and the processes we use to do it, that have evolved from the industrial revolution to today and have shaped our thinking, needs to evolve to enable us to gain the most from the changes in thinking and capability of technology.
Until we are able to break free from the shackles of the traditional structures and management thinking on managing and running organisations we will struggle to both implement successfully and use ERP to the maximum advantage.