Tips for managing common ERP risk factors

Preparation is crucial for an ERP project to combat the many risk factors.


ERP Risk factors are real. ERP projects can run into time delays and cost overruns. There's a risk that the technology does not drive key business process improvements. Even at go live, there's a risk the entire implementation fails if the project was not based on a solid foundation.

ERP risk is compounded when an organization faces a complicated legacy technology environment with multiple integration points, manual workarounds, standalone systems, changing requirements and unrealistic schedules. These are just a few of the ERP risk factors project teams face as they undergo an ERP project journey, and each journey is as unique as the company and the people conducting the project.

3 common ERP risk factors

The following are three common factors to every ERP project in the manufacturing and distribution industries:

  • Risk of delays
  • Cost overruns
  • Complexity

No matter the size organization, lack of proper preparation is the main cause and growth of risk, cost and complexity factors within an ERP project. How to effectively reduce and mitigate common ERP risk factors? In a word: preparation.

Preparation: Key to reducing risk

A key success factor in reducing ERP risk factors is leveraging proven, end-to-end methodology from the very first stages of an ERP project. It's imperative to look at current business processes, be sure the team has proper ERP vendor and system education, and set a clear vision of the company's future state. One of the major risks to watch for is when an ERP project loses the focus on the chance for improvement and transformation of business information processes. A successful ERP project should be thought of as a business transformation, which requires change that must be managed.

Change management

To help manage risk, organizational change management should be woven into the fabric of the project methodology and be part of the transformation journey from the start. Within the change management phase, it's important to undertake both an ERP readiness assessment, and evaluate risk in areas such as:

  • Project Organization Risk. Look at the ERP Project steering committee, the project manager, and the team process owners. Are the right people in the right positions?
  • Scope Risk. Is the scope of the project possible?
  • Readiness Risk. Are there readiness issues and risk?
  • Schedule Risk. Are schedule expectations defined, and are they realistic?
  • Budget Risk. Is the project properly funded?

It's also key to look at the risks of poor end-user training, or the potential for user resistance of the new system. Consider an ERP training and education program, to make sure users will be adequately trained in the use of the system. There are cases where an improved education and training program reduces the risk of end-user resistance. A thorough assessment also addresses any risks associated with the full implementation plan including integration, testing, and data conversion.

This article originally appeared on Ultra Consultants' blog. Ultra Consultants is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Carly Marchal, content specialist, CFE Media, 

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