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As a panel member at the recent SAP Quality Awards it quickly became apparent that successful implementations are achievable provided companies (and individuals) learn from the mistakes of others. Time after time the successful companies presented their formula for success but the three things that struck the panel were;

(a) All the formulas were the pretty much the same;

(b) It’s the same formula that was available almost ten years ago!, and…

(c) … there is (still!) no silver bullet for successful system implementation.

The strength of the successful companies was that they had learned the lessons and applied that learning. So why are so many other companies failing to learn?

Ultimately, I want to explore the strategic role of SAP in organisations but, initially, I want to start with the factors that make the difference between success and failure in implementing an enterprise system. I will examine the changing role of SAP consultants and the organisations in which they work, the process of systems development and the tools, techniques and methods that are available to the consultant, with particular focus on the measures that can be taken by both the consultant and the organisation to minimise the risk of failure. In examining system implementation I will discuss the following:

  • Information Systems, Information Systems Development and Information Systems Failures: Here I will introduce the concept of information systems, information systems development and information systems failure. The term failure is defined and consideration is given to the extent and effects of information systems failure in organisations.

  • Causes of Failure in Information Systems Development: Here I will identify the factors which influence both information systems success and failure. Consideration is given to the relationship between information systems and the organisations in which they are developed. The issues relating to the philosophical and practical selection and application of appropriate development methods/tools and techniques are also discussed.

  • The Role of the SAP Consultant in Information Systems Success: Here I will identify the role of the SAP Consultant and consider the factors which need to be addressed in order to minimise the risk of failure.

  • The Role of the Organisation in Information Systems Success: Here I will identify the role of the organisation for whom the information systems is to be developed and considers the factors which need to be addressed in order to minimise the risk of failure.

  • Success in Practice: Poses the question, how can we ensure success in practice ?

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  1. Paul Taylor
    Bob

    Interesting comments around whether the formulae has changed much over the last ten years or not. Based on my own experience with SAP over this time I would say that failure can be attributed to three areas;

    1) It’s a business transformation (either very large or very small) and carries all of the associated business change implications. It should not be seen only as a system implementation and needs to be clearly linked to the business strategy.

    2) Lack of clarity and communication of the vision for the implementation from top management back down to those in in the business impacted by the change. Without the right sort of empowered senior business sponsor its going to fail no matter how many resources are deployed.

    3) The wrong people involved in the implementation, both from the business and on the implementation team. People from the business who are not motivated by the change and people doing the implementation who really don’t understand what they are doing (inexperienced in SAP projects)

    Actually without very strong project management skills the project is likely to fail as well, but this would be typical of any project, not just an ERP implementation. Interestingly the move over the last two years into an Enterprise Services Architecture framework world will further test your hypothesis, from an SAP perspective this implies not only new technology but new approaches to the business side.

    Just my own thoughts.

    Good luck

    (0) 

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