Digital Transformation

Avoid these four project management risks during your upcoming ERP implementation

Digitizing today as a company is aiming at a better customer experience, a more efficient internal organisation or better services or products. Together with digitization, new IT applications might enter the organisation. But... before they successfully support the organisation, an implementation phase comes.

Whether it is an ERP or other IT implementation, implementations are known for their difficult trajectories. The high level of required organizational energy and the many potential pitfalls make for a challenging project.

A strict project management is one of the key factors that lead to a successful implementation.

In this article, we discuss four potential project management risks that might arise during an ERP implementation and how to manage them.

1. Scope creep

“Scope creep” is the phenomenon where the scope of a project uncontrollably grows or changes after the start of a project. For an ERP implementation to be labelled as successful, the new ERP system should deliver the desired functionalities within budget and on time. Preventing scope creep ensures that the available resources are used effectively and as planned.

How to prevent scope creep? On the one hand by thoroughly preparing the implementation. This entails both defining and validating the scope of the implementation. For example, it should be clear which modules and IT functionalities need to be implemented, before the implementation starts.

On the other hand, the “business users” will most certainly launch additional requests for functionalities throughout the ERP implementation. To prevent a willing implementation partner from implementing these unofficial requests, a formal communication structure must be present. This should result in a structured way to assess additional functionality requests and prevent uncontrolled project growth. 


2. Allocation of internal resources and availabilities

An ERP implementation requires a lot of effort from the internal organization. The lead time of the ERP implementation is often more dependent from the internal capacity than from the implementation partner. To make constant progress, it is important that the internal employees are given enough time in their agendas to work on the ERP implementation. In this way, employees can work on the requested input for the implementation partner without having to stress about completing their day-to-day work.

As a best practice, we recommend to schedule fixed timeslots in which project members are given “formally” the time and space to work on the ERP implementation.

From a project management perspective, it is extremely important to safeguard these fixed project moments. An active sponsorship from top management is indispensable here. 


3. Side tracked by your implementation partner

Once the implementation has started, you transform from being an interesting (high-priority) prospect into a landed customer. Although there is a lot of truth in the saying “customer is king”, it is possible that your organisation, as a customer, is not always treated with the highest priority during the implementation.  

To avoid having the implementation partner put you on a side track, we recommend that you agree on objective performance indicators, measure them periodically (monthly) and report them. In case of significant underperformance, the project manager must act proactively and discuss the deteriorating service with the implementation partner or escalate towards a formal steering committee.

One of the good practices we often see is to have the implementation partner implement the ERP system on-site at the customer's site, and thus not from a distance. On the one hand, this positively impacts the communication lines (shorter lines of communication). On the other hand, this obliges the implementation partner to be physically present and thus to schedule time for your project.


4. Change management

In the end, the users decide whether the new ERP system is a success or not. That is why it is important to involve end users and key employees throughout all project phases: from preparatory activities such as business process modelling, to the selection of the company’s new ERP system and defined implementation tasks.

As project manager, it is important to be clear which stakeholders are involved, in what form and in which project phase. This allows to manage key stakeholders at the right time and thus to proactively send change management throughout the organization.


Does your organization have an upcoming ERP of IT implementation? Are you looking for advice or guidance for this project? Or do you want more information about our project management services? Feel free to contact us at +32 9 378 38 28 or send an e-mail to We are happy to help you.

Dennis Houthoofd - September 18th, 2018