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Decision Maker: Top 10 SAP implementation mistakes to avoid- part two

Implementing an SAP R/3 solution is a serious commitment; your typical $5 billion company can easily spend $50 million or more for the software, hardware, system integrator and the internal team. With the stakes this high, you want to be sure you get it right. Here is the second part of our Letterman-style top-10 countdown of the worst SAP implementation mistakes you should avoid.

Last night, we gave you the first five of our "Top 10 SAP Implementation Mistakes." Unfortunately, we had to cut...

to a commercial break before we could finish. So without further ado, here's the rest, starting with number five...

5. Insufficient training of users

Paul Scherer, president of Diagonal Consulting, says this is mistake can result in consultants having to stick around for months after go-live. Without sufficient user training, workers will do things their own way and it'll become impossible to manage the company's new processes. "This will create problems for every area of the business," he says.

4. Failure to rein in "scope-creep"

A lot of companies will create a business case before they start, but then they'll start adding to the scope of the project simply because the software is capable of additional functions. But they never go back to the original business case and ask, "Does this addition support it?" The result can be "Death by 1,000 cuts," says Scherer. "Each change may be a tiny change, but collectively, these changes of scope will knock a product way off budget, out of time, or worse, prevent delivery of any of the original business benefits in the case."

3. Treating this as a technology project

An SAP implementation should be a balance of people, process and technology, says Weightman. If you build a team that's 90 percent technology people without representatives from the business lines, "you'll end up with a fantastic technical implementation that does nothing to help your business become more competitive in today's environment." This sounds obvious, but as Weightman points out, there are still plenty of companies that make this mistake.

2. Ignoring the advice of your systems integrator

Weightman says he worked with a chemical company that was on its third SAP implementation and – as a result of its prior experiences – thought it knew everything. "Of course the big systems integrators have done thousands of these implementations around the globe and thus have a learning curve based on much more than two or three implementations," he says. In this case, the company suffered a five month delay, huge cost overruns and the loss of five months worth of business benefits.

1. Implementing in pieces

Many companies are tempted to get "quick business hits" by implementing SAP in stages – for example, starting with the financial piece, moving to the HR piece and then the sales and distribution piece, and so on. This will keep you from getting a good final integrated product. That's because once you're ready to implement the later stages, you're already handcuffed by the definitions you created in the earlier stages. Then you'll be forced to scrap chunks of early work and redesign those stages to work effectively with the newer ones. "We advise people to look for logical groupings of business processes and do those in one step," says Weightman. "Otherwise you may double your implementation timetable."

Thank you very much – you've been great. Stick around for Jennifer Lopez, Nelly and Al Gore.

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