by Stephanie Overby

Escape from an Enterprise Implementation Gone Bad

Feb 15, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

What do you do if you’ve already laid down the big bucks for an enterprise application suite and are knee-deep in an implementation that seems iffy? It’s a situation many CIOs have been faced with during the past few years. You can’t exactly rip out a $20 million investment and start over with point solutions. Here’s what you can do.

1 Segment the implementation. If you haven’t already divided the implementation into phases, do so immediately, says management consultant John Hagel. Then, once you reach the next major milestone, you can regroup.

2 Scale back expectations. “People are looking for magic,” says Steve Morelli, senior vice president of strategic planning, business development and IT for San Francisco-based Del Monte. “There’s no magic in any of these systems.” Let business partners know up front what the systems will and won’t be able to accomplish for them. “If you have trouble managing inventory, for example, it’s highly unlikely that a piece of software will be able to fix that problem,” Morelli explains.

3 Focus on value. Concentrate on implementing the 20 percent of the system that will deliver 80 percent of the value for your business. “Leave the bells and whistles on the side,” advises Morelli, who’s been involved with several enterprisewide implementations in the past decade.

4 Consider other options. When you get to the end of the current phase of implementation, figure out how much of the remaining work has to do with fundamental issues (for example, data corruption) and how much has to do with the desire to integrate more effectively across the business. You may not need that next module, and the latter can be done in less traumatic and costly ways, says Hagel.

5 Vent to the vendor. If all else fails, go back to your vendor and express your dissatisfaction. “Every vendor fears a blowup in the press,” says Chad Eschinger, senior analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner. “It’s in the best interest of the vendor to get it right?