How to Recover from Failure of an ERP Implementation


A failure is a project that doesn’t go live with what management and the owners expected. If a project never goes live, or if it goes live years later and far over budget, it can be considered a failure.

What happened? How did it go wrong? What do we need to do to get the plan back on track? Why do these projects fail?

These are the questions you may be asking, and the simplest answer is that there are four key areas that you need to assess to discover what occurred and how to fix it:


After an implementation has failed, you might assume that all previous steps have been completed. One of the first steps of the project would be looking at functionality, or knowing what areas of the organization are going to utilize the software. But it’s vital to take a fresh look, especially if the project has been ongoing for a while. Is it possible that the functionality has changed? This is important data to have before attempting to correct an expensive ERP project disaster.


Data cleansing means assessing all the various pieces of information that will be used in the new ERP software. This must be done before putting an ERP project back on track. If the data is not organized going into the ERP software, it will be much harder to implement.


You must ask: what systems and departments will need to communicate with and pass data to the ERP system? Again, if a project has been stalled for an extended period of time these requirements may have changed. In order to recover from an ERP failure, you will need to know what integrations are still needed.


Finally, the need for an ERP execution plan can be easily overlooked. While the team is working to ensure everything functions and the end users understand the new software, something can be missed. Look at what will be needed to implement the new software. Will the shipping department need iPads to run the inventory tracking part of the system? Are new printers needed for the accounting department to print the checks?

While it may seem complicated, the good news is that it is entirely possible to recover from an ERP execution failure. Look at the areas above and see where they are in the sense a normal software development process of analysis, design, build, test, change management, training, documentation, cutover prep, and go-live. None of the steps can be skipped, but if every single one is done fully to completion, you can avoid failure.

The key is to find the underlying problem that caused the failure and fix that. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions and be willing to do whatever it takes to resolve the issue. Assess the information above and you may find one simple issue. Sometimes finding the problem can be the hard part and fixing it can be the easier step.

Analyze What is Needed from the Project

When an ERP implementation consultant steps into a project that has continued too long without a successful result, they will first analyze the situation. They can look at several factors, including what software needs to be implemented and what areas will be affected by the implementation.

As part of this step, the ERP consultant can also analyze the skill sets of those people already on the project team and determine if any roles need to be adjusted. This will ensure that every team member is being optimized. Doing this step can also mean the consultant essentially goes back to an earlier juncture and asks department heads what is needed from the new software.

Discover and Fix Anything Going Wrong

When necessary, the ERP implementation consultant will locate and fix the project plan. They will collaborate with key staff, executives, and department heads to discover what is occurring with the project, what went wrong, and who needs help.

When they find an issue, the consultant can work with that person to help accomplish a particular task. If the consultant discovers that more training is needed for team members to understand how to complete their tasks, they can assist with that as well.

Get Everyone in Agreement

Sometimes delay is caused by differing opinions about the project. There could be a disagreement about what the new software will do or who will use it. Perhaps there are disagreements on how processes are currently being run, or how they should run once the implementation is finished. If some of the team believe the project is nearly completed, while in truth there are still many steps to be done, this can hold up an implementation.

Any sort of confusion can stall a project. If some personnel want to work on later tasks, such as testing, while others are trying to complete earlier ones, such as configuring the system, you’ll find that nothing gets done at all. These opposing opinions can make it nearly impossible for the project to be completed.

In such a case, your consultant may go back to the drawing board and start the project almost at square one to get everyone in agreement. Having everyone on the same page can relieve an overworked team who was spending a lot of time working but not actually making progress.

Formulate a New Plan

Your ERP consultant can also formulate a new plan for your project. This step could be needed whether you already had a project plan or not.

The consultant may also investigate the available time from the client side to realistically implement the software. Taking all of this information into account, your consultant will then create an ERP implementation plan that details every task needed to complete the project and assigns them to an individual. This creates a viable project plan.

Drive the Project

Once they have a project plan in place that everyone has agreed upon, your consultant will continue to drive the project forward. This can often be the most important way that an ERP implementation consultant will help a stalled project.

Overworked employees may have been pulled off the project, or they could have become too involved in their own jobs to work on the implementation. Before starting an implementation, people usually don’t realize that working on an ERP project will essentially be another job.

It can take up to anywhere from 10% to 50% to even 100% more of an employee’s time to work on the implementation project. Because of this, your consultant is essential to keeping the plan moving.

Tie Up Loose Ends

Once the consultant has come in and done everything needed to get a delayed project moving again, their last task will be to make sure the implementation results in a successful go-live. This may involve locating and solving any unexpected problems, handling any customizations or integrations that are needed, and managing data migration.

Because of their experience, the ERP implementation consultant can forecast foreseeable risks and prepare solutions – perhaps even before the problem occurs.

Still think you need help recovering from an ERP implementation failure? We're here to help! Contact ERP Advisors Group today to set up a consultation. 

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