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Risks of a new ERP Implementation.

Most company managers have to evaluate a new ERP systems purchase and implementation at some point in their career as their older systems get outdated and need to be upgraded due to changes in technology, market conditions and changing business models for the company. Yet this can be a perlious journey for the organizations, especially because ERP systems are so integrally tied to the entire company's business operations and core functioning. Although there is a lot of literature on this topic, I thought this article might be a good reminder for all of us.

New Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations, while beneficial, can also pose several risks to organizations. These risks can affect various aspects of the business, including operations, finances, and employee morale. Some common risks associated with ERP implementations include:

Delays and cost overruns

ERP implementations often require significant financial investments for software licenses, customization, training and ongoing support. Cost overruns can occur if the project scope is not adequately defined and managed very carefully through out the implementation.

The project may experience delays due to factors such as inadequate planning and dependencies on third-party vendors. Delays can disrupt business operations, prolong the implementation timeline and strain organizational resources.

Most times this could disrupt day-to-day business operations, especially during the transition period. Downtime, system outages and performance issues could impact productivity, may even impact sales and revenue generation.

Lack of end-user adoption

If the implementation and transition to the new systems are not handled properly, resistance to change can seep in and can impede adoption of the new system. Employees may find the new interface unfamiliar and possibly experience difficulties navigating functionalities in cases of inadequate training - resulting in work disruptions. This can completely undermine the effectiveness of the new system and impact the anticipated business benefits negatively.

ERP implementations necessitate organizational change and transformation to adopt new processes and technologies successfully. Inadequate change management strategies, can lead to resistance and ultimately result in project failure. Effective change management practices are essential to promote buy-in and facilitate organizational readiness for change.

Customization and resulting complexity

Organizations usually customize ERP systems to work with their specific business requirements and industry practices. However, in many cases vendors and consultants prescribe excessive customization which increases implementation complexity, results in scope creep and introduces many other ongoing maintenance challenges.

Hence the reliability, expertise, and support capabilities of ERP vendors and implementation partners can significantly impact project success.

Data integrity and security risks

ERP implementations often involve migrating and consolidating vast amounts of critical data from disparate systems into a centralized platform. Data migration errors and inaccuracies can compromise data integrity and open the organization to compliance violations and financial losses. Additionally, like any other systems implementations a new system deployed may be vulnerable to data breaches and unauthorized access.

In summary, addressing these risks requires proactive planning, risk mitigation strategies, and continuous monitoring throughout the ERP implementation lifecycle. At the end of the day the goal of deploying a new system is to realize strategic business value. But time and again we have seen that new systems deployment can cause massive disruptions and also outright project failures in some cases. So embarking on this journey is not for the faint hearted. I would like to cover how some of these risks could be mitigated in a future article.

Chao for now,

Jai Prabakaran

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