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Why do ERP implementations fail sometimes?

If enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are meant to make our lives easier, then why do so many prove incredibly tricky to use? What seems to be going wrong, and how can we fix it? Let's dive beneath the surface and find answers.

How to avoid ERP disasters

In everyday life, we all put up with something that nags away at us from time to time, such as a dripping tap, a sensitive tooth, or a car that loathes cold mornings. Finally, it gets too much to endure any longer, so we fix it.

Frustrations with ERP solutions are different — they can become ERP disasters, especially if drawbacks emerge soon after an expensive implementation.

Issues can erode morale, throttle productivity, and eat away at customer satisfaction. You can feel as if your organization has to fit into the ERP system's nuances, not the other way around. Rather than accelerating your business, it feels as if you're pushing a shopping trolley with a broken wheel.

The irony is you may have just exchanged an old system with all its annoying quirks for a new ERP solution that arrives with its own set of frustrations.

Reasons for ERP implementation failures

ERP solutions should streamline business processes, bring data together, and enable seamless coordination. But experiences often tell otherwise. There are two common reasons for this: The ERP is hard to use, and it’s hard to change.

But what causes the pain? Three reasons spring to mind:

1. Lack of people-focus

Designed with products in mind, not people, these ERP platforms struggle to provide you with great experiences. Within days of implementation, there's the whiff of enterprise resource planning failure in the air. An outdated user experience design creates problems, and usability is tricky, slowing you down and making jobs harder than they need to be.

2. Legacy tech lurks beneath

Some ERP platforms — even solutions still sold today — are built on tech that hasn't changed in years. When legacy tech lurks beneath, this creates its own problems. Firstly, tech has moved on from five or ten years ago, as digital transformation has gathered pace. As a result, legacy ERPs can have major integration issues with the agile, newer systems you'll want to use in other areas of your business.

3. Rigid architectures

ERP software is often designed to be reliable — over everything else. This is a strength, but it can sometimes come with stubbornness. Rigid architectures make changes more complicated. Updates and new processes are harder to adopt, which can block innovation and smarter working.

These three issues can leave companies with ERP implementation failures on their hands. Make the wrong choice, and you can end up with cumbersome and unsuitable tech that's focused on products and built for record-keeping. Usability seems to be an afterthought.

Once in place, these uncompromising systems can be painful to change. So, what's the alternative?

Hallmarks of a great ERP system

How can you swap enterprise resource planning failure for ERP success?

Simply put, modern cloud-based ERPs should focus on People Experience. They should take a holistic approach to what the system does for you, how it does it, and most importantly, who it's for. Studying how people use the system at work, even (or especially) when the system meets other systems, is imperative.

Here, usability becomes as vital as accuracy because accurate data is useless if no-one can use it. And integration becomes as vital as reliability because it doesn't matter if your system always works if you can't work with it.

Couple these benefits with a cloud-based platform, and you have an ERP solution that delivers excellent experiences and purpose. It's about letting you connect from anywhere, do anything, and change successfully as your business grows. That's a hallmark of a great ERP system.

Say goodbye to ERP implementation failures

The best cloud ERPs are always connected, easier to use, and simple to integrate with other systems. They are designed for People Experience, solving a series of issues.

Integration hassles are over

Older ERPs are often self-contained and don't play well with other systems. But a modern, people-focused ERP integrates easily with the systems you rely on to get things done. They create shortcuts, not headaches, using "mesh-ups" to help you work faster and get rid of annoying workarounds or pointless processes. Your integration hassles are over.

Data access becomes easier

Older systems are great for storing data. As for using it, that's a different issue altogether. With a leading ERP solution, data works across all systems and processes — all using better People Experiences to take away the pain of data analysis across different systems and sources. Your data is stored in a single shared space — a single source of truth — in the cloud and is always available. Data access becomes so much easier.

Confusion vanishes

Older ERPs can struggle to connect different systems and sources of data and taxonomies, leading to doubt about what people are using and where it's from. People-focused ERPs connect more and understand how everything relates. They let all your systems talk to one another, giving you data certainty and ensuring things like analysis, forecasting, decision-making, and automation are simpler. Confusion vanishes; clarity appears.

Thrive in a real-time environment

Systems that struggle to integrate will slow down your processes. But modern ERPs focus on centralizing data, so it's as adaptable, flexible, and available as possible. Creating better People Experiences by removing data drag and confusion means you can thrive in an almost real-time environment, enabling you to make real-time decisions with real-time data.

How to avoid ERP implementation failures

Many ERPs today are letting down their users. Systems may trumpet cost savings and a set of small gains. But they fail to deliver on expectations and lead to ERP disasters.

In contrast, people-focused ERPs prioritize usability and are optimized for digital transformation. They are more flexible, natural, and useful. As a result, your people can engage better, become more productive, and are genuinely happier at work.

Swap ERP disasters for ERP success

Discover how you can avoid costly ERP implementation failures — and get a system that powers up your business by looking at ERP solutions from Unit4. Once implementation finishes, you'll hit the ground running.

Holger Mueller, Vice President and Principal Analyst of Constellation Research, has authored a paper on how Unit4 pushes the ERP Platform to the next level and how moving ERP platforms to the public cloud enables a better People Experience.

He talks about the four top drivers for ERP platforms being cloud-based; he dives into market trends and market segmentation; analyzes the functional capabilities of Unit4 ERP and looks at our partnerships and alliances. Download the paper here.

To discover how enterprise resource planning software from Unit4 can help you swap ERP disasters for ERP success, visit our ERP page.

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