I saw this enterprise software news item on GigaOM recently. “News emerged this morning that Avon Products is scrapping a planned roll out of an SAP order management system and taking a charge of $100 million to $125 million. This should remind all of us that while everyone talks about the consumerization of IT, and while we understand the need to make our mission-critical applications as easy to use as iPhone apps, that’s a very tough job. After all, enterprise-resource planning (ERP) software — or in this case, order management — is not for the faint of heart. Avon Products disclosed the charges associated with the failed roll out in an 8K filing with the SEC.”

Most of have witnessed casualties of ERP implementations. I have no experience implementing those applications, but I did work on a precursor of MES receiving some very good training from IBM in the process.

There are things I have learned from experience, observation and listening to those who have been there (both supplier side and client side).

IBM taught that the client must understand their systems and have solid procedures in place before implementing a big system. I’ve recently held an in-depth conversation with an experienced MES implementer and he as much as said the same thing. If you don’t understand where you are, implementing a big system is doomed.

Another thing to understand that most of these huge enterprise operations management software system implementations require clients to change their business processes to conform to the vision of the software developers. There exist a cadre of large integration companies ready and willing (for a rather large price) to help you install the system and then learn how to conform to it.

CIOs may understand much of this. But what of other executives? If their knowledge of software is traced to consumer apps, no wonder they have no patience for all the upfront work needed to make things work.

The story quoted above went on to talk about all the finger-pointing about blame when the project went south. Been there, done that, have the closet full of T-shirts to prove it.

Let’s just go back to step one. Every engineer knows that preparation and understanding before implementing is essential. Yet, few of us really take that time in the rush to performance. I bet it’s in the way the project was sold–both by the supplier, but also then to management.

Think that it’ll ever change?

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