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ERP Experts
Sunday, March 03, 2013

In every case the lure of big dollars attracts the wrong type of people! ERP experts are now coming out of the woodwork with CVs suggesting that they know how to implement your ERP systems without any problems. Most of these so-called experts are simply opportunists that either: have an IT degree, have worked on an ERP system somewhere, are hired by software companies and given training on the particular software or they have been hired out of the newspaper to staff ERP implementation projects.

Falsification of CVs is widespread and this is a source of many legal challenges whereby ERP vendors and their implementation partners have put forward personnel for an ERP project based on CVs that have been mostly fabricated or worded in ways to hide the lack of knowledge and experience and charge huge sums of money to the client. The ERP industry is around 50 billion dollars and a huge chunk of that is taking money from hapless clients for implementation services and not delivering outcomes.

I see ERP vendors touting their products and claiming “ease of implementation” all in three months. Companies looking to buy ERP systems who lack knowledge of ERP are swayed by the hype and sign-on to the system. The vendor then provides the so-called experts to implement the system only to find that the words implementation really means software installation and not ERP. Successful implementation takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months from the start of the project. No different to 35 years ago when the technology was called MRPII.

Proven path implementation methodologies are not proven path but are sales spin to get organisations to buy their software. Many companies I visit have a so-called proven path methodology, sold as a feature of the contract, but the software vendors or partners implementation team are not using the tools they claimed were proven path. Why? Because the proven path methodology was simply misleading spin to get the customer to buy the software.

If you look at the spate of legal actions against software companies and their implementation partners (sometimes the same organisation) you will find a major source of complaint is the people, supposedly experienced, did not have the skills or experience to implement the system. This is well known in the industry as “Bait and Switch”. At the sales stage the potential client is introduced to people who certainly have knowledge about ERP and can talk up a great story, convincing the client they are very experienced and know what they are doing with the inference these people will be the ones implementing the system. The switch is done once the client signs up and buys the software. The experienced people they were introduced to at the sales stage disappear and others with little or no experience are put on the project.

The best course of action for the buying client is to use the software house to provide and configure the software, carry out training on the software and provide the data conversion software.

The External support, with project management and implementation being carried out in house with an independent ERP consultant that has no conflict of interest, with the software supplier when issues arise.

These consultants should not be camped on the clients premises but visit weekly or as necessary to advise with project management issues.

The cost of ERP over the last 25 years has mostly been in the add-on implementation services by the ERP vendors own implementation experts. This is a major source of revenue and the software companies are not going to let it go easily and will employ the “fear” factor to try to keep the business. That is: We won’t guarantee a successful outcome if you use external people to assist in the implementation that aren’t ours. The reality is they don’t guarantee outcomes anyway. 50-70% failures and average 25% cost overruns (for many much more) coupled with maybe 50% of expected benefits being achieved, if they are diligent, shows an industry that badly needs an overhaul. Unlikely whilst ever there is much money to be skimmed off projects without accountability!

The best defence against this dishonest activity is for the buying companies to change the game and look at real experts and not the charlatans that are lurking about waiting to take advantage of naive trusting buyers of the ERP technology and services.