Let’s face it, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations can be challenging. ERP systems are meant to automate most aspects of your business processes, therefore, with everything that happens, it’s quite easy to understand why problems may arise. Surprisingly, the majority of failures are not caused by the ERP software itself, no, the human element is the main reason for ERP problems.

ERP implementation delays are one of the most frequent problems surrounding the industry. Once you understand the details of your project, you realize that the initial timeline is not realistic at all. This is why so many ERP implementations experience a slip in schedule. It has become common for projects to get delayed, but what are the causes of these delays? Here are some key reasons why ERP implementations take longer than expected:

Unrealistic expectations

The most common reason for delays is starting the ERP implementation process with unrealistic expectations in terms of the implementation duration. Unfortunately, people often invent timelines that can’t be met in the given time frame for most traditional ERP providers.

Obviously, setting reasonable expectations from the beginning can help with this problem. Also, it’s important to plan for details that become relevant only later in the project. Make sure to take the necessary time to understand how the business actually works.

Another reason for ERP delays is when companies base their implementation expectations only on vendor proposals and statements of work. In this situation, the problem is that vendors are just a small part of the transformation itself and not one of the focal points. A successful project plan has to consider all the other internal and external activities regarding the project, including the non-technical side of the implementation.

Slow decision-making

Slow decision-making is another cause of ERP delays. For example, when different business units have to decide upon a common business process, it takes some time to get alignment and make decisions. This will translate into delays.

Until now, ERP systems are proving highly inflexible to customer needs and dynamic business requirements which is why companies considering an ERP implementation have to settle for what their current processes are and not what they will be in the future. Post-implementation changes make up the bulk of ERP companies’ revenue and frustrates customers since they’re forced to pay up for additions and amendments to keep the software relevant to ever-changing business needs which is the reality for most companies in the 21st century.

Companies and executive teams often lack clear perspectives of the project objective and what good looks like which also can lead to friction and unplanned implementation delays.

Structural issues

Other reasons that lead to ERP implementation delays are related to structural issues. Even with planning, sometimes these issues cannot be fixed. There are all sorts of infrastructural problems that can occur at any time in the process of ERP implementations.

These failures related to infrastructural problems are not happening because of the lack of planning, but due to the lack of testing in order to ensure that the software works correctly.

Also, a delay may happen at go-live, if the system does not run properly and fails. This could be because of a lack of QA and unit testing as well. Testing should therefore be a priority on your to-do list, especially in the days before the launch. This way reduces the risks associated with going live and hedges you against delays in the implementation.

Lack of tools and templates

Projects depend on different tools and templates. Tools may include data upload and extraction programs, SQL Loader, data loader, etc. Templates, on the other hand, can be data conversion templates, test scripts templates, technical design templates, etc.

In the ideal scenario, all the tools and templates are established from the beginning,  combined properly and reviewed by the customers. Unfortunately, in reality, that doesn't always happen.

Those in charge often find the templates too late, when the deliverables are due. So sometimes even if the materials are ready, the implementation gets delayed because of the lack of availability of templates.

In conclusion, ERP implementation delays happen all the time. By being aware and understanding the reasons why projects get delayed, companies can create more realistic implementation plans. Another solution of course, is to look for tools and ERP platforms that have speed-to-market built into their DNA, such as Naologic.