If you’re undertaking a software upgrade, these risks may come to mind:
- Risk of the unknown: How do we know we’ll meet our objectives? Will our world improve?
- Risk of ineffective project management: Do we have the capability to manage this process through the finish line?
- Risk of budget overruns: Just how much is this project really going to “cost”?
- Risk of business interruption: Are we ready to commit the time? How will this impact our business?
Software upgrades are a risky business. Most don’t go well, and cost far more than anticipated.
Being truly ready to select software and manage the upgrade process (and the vendors involved) is VITAL to ensuring an ROI from your pending investment.
How do you mitigate the risks above? Start with these simple reality checks…
- Risk of the unknown – can be mitigated by better defining what you’re looking to accomplish and determining the measurements of success to assess when you’re done with the project. Surprisingly, people upgrade without really validating why they are upgrading – and without any of these important steps: preparing their requirements, running ROI computations or taking steps to ensure that they really will improve the operations of the business.
- Risk of ineffective project management – can be mitigated by assigning this task to persons that have DONE THIS BEFORE, rather than the person you find most conveniently available in the business to do this. Experience in ERP upgrades is very important. The project manager needs to speak the “speak” of the ERP world, and if they don’t, you run a high risk of disconnect and project failure.
- Risk of budget overruns – can be mitigated by employing sound project management practices, and, managing communication about internal and vendor progress effectively. Open dialog about resource requirements, sharing of work between vendor and company personnel, and other topics of implementation activities can pay huge dividends. It’s better to fend off a known overrun than to be surprised by one, especially when someone lower on your totem pole authorized the vendor to work on something that the internal person just couldn’t accomplish on time.
- Risk of business interruption – mitigation of this one isn’t easy. Plan way ahead to augment your staff, where possible, such that people who are key to the ERP project are training others to help with their “day jobs” well before the need for data cleansing and system walk-throughs arise. And, prepare the ERP team by communicating your expectations about the time involved (typically normal days plus 30-50% overtime) to do system implementation efforts. You might also prepare your internal team by having them determine what “good data” they have, and to scrub their current data for duplicates, older and non-relevant data, and such – or at least identify this kind of information for later cleansing.
These are just a few of the practices that we’ve seen to mitigate the most blatant risks of ERP upgrades.
Most growing businesses don’t have particularly deep expertise in software implementation management.
We do. And we’re not selling any software. We are SingerLewak LLP – a 54-year old CPA and Consulting firm. We have many software upgrade leadership projects to our credit, and would be happy to discuss yours.