Lessons from ERP – When will we learn?

It was the fashion a few years ago to refer to ELNs as “ERP” for research, and that’s a business model which some of the larger vendors have embraced with glee. A broad range of product offerings (acquire or build as needed), an aggressive sales force, confident marketing, and off we go! You too can reap the rewards (and these contracts are obscenely profitable).

I’ve watched the lifecycle of these large projects, and the success rate is abysmal. They really are the ERP of research – warts and all. The optimistic customer and slightly smug vendor are seen two years later much quieter – and the project manager has often moved on, leaving the debris to someone else.

Unfortunately the ELN market isn’t large enough to get the kind of attention that ERP does, so getting “Lessons Learned” is tough – although we do try in the workshops with give, and I know that John Trigg at Phase Four has a lot of good stuff to say too.

It’s interesting that the people pushing for ERP-style projects come from the vendor side in some way or another. I don’t think they are deliberately pushing something that doesn’t work, it’s just that they only see the one success, not the many failures – or indeed, the many successes of very simple, effective solutions which might not even involve an outside vendor.

Anyway, I find reading about ERP failures pretty useful when considering how to run effective ELN projects. One good example is this blog post on ZDNet:When will we learn?

With reference to Amphora’s products and approach – this is one reason why we’ve focused very tightly on a specific problem, delivering a solution which can be deployed without too much pain or risk. It takes discipline and I know a lot of people think we’re mad, but the results speak for themselves I think.

In the current economic climate, focus and simplicity are suddenly back in fashion, which I guess means there’s always a silver lining….

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