When to Pull The Plug on an Implementation Project

stockfresh_6353070_young-man-showing-time-out-hand-gesture-frustrated-screaming-to-stop_sizeSHave you ever had or known someone who had a “money pit” home improvement project? One of those projects with poor preparation, compounded problems, continual unexpected issues and uncontrollable expenses piled up? At what point do you just stop and say you’ve wasted too much money on this project?

It’s hard to get out of the cycle because if you continue, the project will continue to require more money, more time, and more work, but if you stop, you’re stuck living with something half-finished and potentially unusable. The same goes for your software implementation. At what point do you just stop?

Last week we discussed the causes of a botched implementation project and how to avoid them. This week, we are talking about when you should pull the plug on an implementation project or when to keep going. You can find the entire episode of the ERP Advisor Conference Call here, or read a summary of the call below.

Just Stop!

In our experience, if you have any questions about the implementation or feel that it is not going well, it’s always best to just stop. In our experience, 99% of the time it’s only going to get worse unless something fundamentally changes, like an implementation partner resigns or assigns a stronger resource to run it, or you’re able to put a stronger internal resource on the project, or even hire a consulting firm like ours to come in and fix things.

Unless you make a major change, the implementation will continue to spiral out of control.

Although it’s a painful decision to make, we find it is always better to just put a full stop on the project. Tell your resources that they need to stop billing you and you are not paying them another dime beyond this point. This will get the attention of your vendors, and even internal resources to stop and review everything that is happening with the project:

  • Where are we supposed to be on this project?
  • Where are we now, and what direction are we headed in?
  • Where are we relative to the project scope?
  • What have we consumed in terms of time, money and resources to date?

Your implementation partners don’t want to lose the job, so they will work to get everything straightened out. You can stop for just a day or you can stop for weeks at a time — either way, stopping everything to review the project and get it back on track is what it often takes to salvage a botched implementation.

If you can come up with a good plan for moving forward, then you can pick the project back up. If you can’t, then it is a botched implementation and you may just need to stop altogether and suffer the consequences because that scenario may actually be better than continuing to bleed time and money.

Organizations spend MANY thousands of dollars on software each year, and while those tools should meet all your objectives and run smoothly, we all know that is not often the case. There are many signs that an implementation is going badly and there are ways to help mitigate some of the risks.

Ultimately, though, if your implementation is headed downhill, it’s best to just stop and reevaluate the project before moving forward and losing more money.