Have courage enough to stop the ERP implementation in time
28 Dec 20
28 Dec 20
It is important to shed light on the implementation projects within ERP Systems that have been and are successful. And through this both provide inspiration and spread knowledge about what is required in preparation, planning and structure for a project to become successful. Many projects that have run into difficulties could have avoided this through a different approach before and during the implementation.
But it is also just as important to dare and have the strength to talk about the ERP projects that are not going well, and the projects that end up in such difficulties that the parties do not manage to handle the situation. And where it eventually lands in a legal process and in the worst case also eventually in a lawsuit.
In our role as independent advisors and ERP experts, we have over the years become involved in several processes (both with and without a lawsuit) where the customer and system vendor have not been able to resolve the situation on their own. Sometimes it is only a matter of lacking personal chemistry, but most often the parties have dug themselves into a position that is so hard cemented that no one gives way. And to this, the economic aspect and the risk have become so great that the consequences become significant.
Gaining insight into these projects and being able to follow the process is at the same time painful and instructive. Painful from the perspective that there has been significant damage to one or both of the parties as a result of the failed project. And instructive from the perspective that the legal process has the task of creating clarity in the causes of the accident.
Based on practical experience from many such processes, one can easily summarize the situation as if it is rarely a matter of just one party having failed. It is usually a long series of events where both parties have acted successively in a way that means that the project has fallen outside the agreement’s governing principles. And once this happens, it will also be difficult to apply the agreement to sort out the problems.
Some common examples of “long series of events” are that the parties have failed in their discipline when it comes to conducting and carefully documenting meetings and decisions, to fix deviations a little continuously without being documented or decided, to perform testing without proper instructions or documentation, to pass milestones without the decided criteria being met, etc. The list goes on. In daily life, one can consider that a “pragmatic” attitude is good because it solves many daily events. But from a legal perspective in a legal trial, pragmatic handling is the worst imaginable.
It is a challenge in all ERP implementations to maintain discipline when it comes to formality around meetings, decisions and documentation. You easily end up in a jargon of “it works out” as an attitude – and where in most cases actually does work out. The problem is only when it does not work out and it becomes difficult or impossible to back up tape and try to sort out the problems. Structure and discipline are important throughout the implementation project.
One of the most important insights from our experience of legal processes is that what has been the main cause of the problems has usually arisen at an early stage of the implementation project – but where both parties have chosen to continue working with the attitude that the problems will be solved. And even if the problem has grown gradually and slowly during the project, it might take a very long time before the parties realize that the problems cannot be solved. And only then do they throw in the towel and hire external help to handle the situation.
Many of the projects that have ended up in court would not have had to land there if the customer or the vendor had the courage to put their foot down and slow down or stop the implementation in time. Even if it leads to a delayed go live or higher costs or loss of prestige, it is often better to stop and take a timeout to reason about the situation. Then the damage can usually be limited, and it is possible to save the relationship between the parties in addition to the implementation project.