Learning from ERP failures part 2

Replace “ERP” with “ELN” in this article: Angst in Oak Park over failed PeopleSoft project and you see the story of many “Big” ELN projects in smaller Biotechs (and indeed larger companies!).

From the summary:

As you can see, the town did not fully understand that implementing an ERP system means changing and improving existing processes and ways of working. Many problem implementations result from the customer’s incomplete understanding about the extent of process change that will be required.

For small organizations such as Oak Park, this lack of implementation sophistication is quite understandable. After all, these folks don’t have a large IT staffing infrastructure and are not experienced with large implementations.

On the surface, it’s easy to blame the original system integrator as well as PeopleSoft. Both of these participants should probably have worked more closely with the town to ensure that process change expectations were clear and realistic. However, it’s entirely possible the external folks explained everything to the town, but somehow the information didn’t sink in.

Most likely, the vendors didn’t push hard enough because they wanted to sell software licenses and related services; at the same time, the town probably was caught up in its own hopes and didn’t listen sufficiently closely to advice from these vendors. Without more information, there’s no way to isolate original cause.

We know that our customers typically get their money back on our systems between 4 months and 1 year after purchase. That’s a very gratifying result, but the key is to make sure that’s achieved by all our customers rather than a few headline ones.

So we’ve worked very hard to get these kinds of project-related risks out of our deployments.

  • Our product is focused, and battle-tested. Simple but not simplistic – exactly what’s needed to solve the problem, nothing more and nothing less. (it’s the bells and whistles that get you).
  • We’re not above explaining hard truths to customers/prospects, even if that means we lose the deal – your not just buying our product, you’re buying our experience, too. Our interest is in a successful implementation with a happy customer, nothing else.
  • We try very hard to fit in with what’s already there, minimising the disruption and increasing the benefits.
  • Internally, our sales team reports to the Director of Customer Relations. Sometimes you see sales people say anything to get a sale – at Amphora, that would be career limiting and very noticeable.

I’m not going to claim we’re perfect but I’d hope we were at least not making the same stakes twice!