Category Archives: Implementation

5 steps to implement ERP the Agile way

Roadside waterfall by digitaldust In my previous post I’ve (what, again?) shared some statistics about success and failure rates of software projects in general and ERP projects specifically. It seems that ERP projects fare somewhat worse than generic software projects, which I stated might have a lot to do with how requirements are handled.

Agile is an unpopular word in ERP world. We, the ERP people, love the glory and the thunder of The Waterfall. It has worked for us since forever, after all. Yes, we’ve all seen it fail every so often, but we’ve learned to learn from failure, and we know there is no better approach. Don’t we?

Frankly, I am not completely sure we do.

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Is agile ERP implementation possible?

image Agile has been gaining momentum among software development methodologies for past decade or so. Various researches and surveys consistently show that software developed under an agile approach is generally better than the software developed under waterfall approaches.

At the core of any agile approach is an assumption that whatever the requirements might be at the beginning of a project, they won’t be the same at the end of the project. The longer the project, the more truth there is in this assumption. To mitigate this situation, agile methodologies start with smaller sets of requirements, they start small and deliver functionality incrementally in a series of releases. No single release covers all requirements, but every release delivers more than the previous one.

With ERP implementations, we generally don’t subscribe to this idea. And at that, we might be wrong.

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Panorama’s ERP Report reveals important facts

For a long time, the ruler of project reports was Standish Group’s (in)famous Chaos report, which analyzed IT project success/failure factors. While many of the Chaos report’s findings applied to ERP implementation, the report as a whole was primarily about software development projects. And as we all know, implementing ERP is not the same thing as software development. Hopefully.

Panorama Consulting Group, an independent ERP consulting firm from Denver, Colorado, has conducted a market research in 2008, that explains ERP implementation project success factors and reveals some interesting metrics about real ERP costs, duration and benefits. Finally, we have a decent ERP project report, which reveals some important facts about Microsoft Dynamics.

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How to prevent failure: project education

According to Standish Group, top causes of failed IT project are these:

  • lack of end-user engagement,
  • unclear specification,
  • changes in scope,
  • lack of management support,
  • lack of planning,
  • unrealistic and unclear goals.

I haven’t seen too many failed Microsoft Dynamics NAV implementation projects, but those that I did see fail, have failed precisely for a selection of these reasons.

Take a closer look at the list above. Doesn’t it seem that the blame lays mostly on the customer? But is it really customer’s fault?

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Why is add-on better than custom, any day?

image Implementation is like marriage. For better or worse, you choose a piece of software, take it under your roof and commit to it for a long term, so help you God.

And as in marriage, if you want to live happily ever after with your new software, the my way or the highway attitude doesn’t help much—you must be open to compromise.

Last Monday, I argued for avoiding customizations if at all possible, an argument I stand by firmly. It’s like forcing your wife to color her hair pink. I don’t know about your wife, but mine doesn’t color her hair pink. If you like it pink, it’s probably something to think about before turning your yes in.

But NAV is NAV, isn’t it? It has what it has, and if I need it different, I have to customize it, right?

Wrong. You can compromise.

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