Top reasons why ERP implementations are successful

Internet is full with the same messaging “why ERP implementations fail”. Most bloggers simply explain the doom scenarios. Some are telling how you can prevent it by telling you that if you hire company XYZ things will be good because of the: Experience, Best People, Market knowledge, methodology etc.

I would like to approach it differently and tell you what the cause is for each “reason why ERP implementations fail”. I would even like to challenge you saying that we can do a full Microsoft Dynamics AX implementation for you for just €10K.


First, a success story

When I started my Dynamics AX career, one of my first implementation I did was for an old employer of mine; an international trade company with about 25 FTE in The Netherlands and China. I was the Dynamics AX consultant, and a personal friend and colleague of mine was the Dynamics AX developer. We implemented Dynamics AX3.0 for about €50K in just a few months time. The project team was very lean; the director told all I needed to know about the business procedures, I was the consultant who understood the business (I worked there for a few years). We started the project by declaring that trust in each other is the basis of this project, and therefore there is no need for project management, progress reports, etc. We also decided to implement the project using the Extreme Developing methodology.


Were we successful? Hell yeah! We developed a shipping module to track and trace the imports from China and the deliveries to the customers in Europe. We changed the way invoices were settled (3 way matching in AX3.0), we created a new inventory valuation (Shipping batch pricing and all related costs), we introduced a rudimentary workflow (there was no workflow or alerts in AX3.0) and the documents were printed using the HD pictures the customers made from all their items. Just for €50K.


Actually the deal was even better in hindsight since we sold the shipping module we created twice to other customers. The customer used Dynamics AX 3.0 for 8 years. He never upgraded to AX4.0, AX2009 or AX2012. Simply because Dynamics AX3.0 and the modifications we made was exactly what he needed, so why upgrade? If you add the license costs of AX and SQL, hardware to our services minus the returns of selling the shipping module he spent about €10K a year on a tailor made ERP system.


The challenges and rules of ERP implementations

Can we implement AX for under €10K? Of course we can. So what needs to be done to stay under this €10K? I’ll explain this using the “top reasons why ERP implementation fail”


Top reasons why ERP implementations are successful- Kaya Consulting


  1. Incomplete requirements: You need to know and be able to tell me what you want! Changing a way of working is easy said, but it takes me time to configure. So understand what your employees are doing or need to be doing and stick to it.


  1. Lack of User environment: We’re talking about Microsoft Dynamics AX. Not Microsoft Dynamics AX2012R3 which needs on premise installation, hardware setup etc but I’m talking about the new cloud based Dynamics AX.


  1. Lack of Resources:You need to help and you have to be available! Much time is spent on education, data migration, security settings and gathering procedures (see point 1), project management (point 4) and change management (point 5).

–          Regarding data migration I simply need you to put your employees to work. And remember: “bullshit in, bullshit out”.

–          Regarding education, either you do it yourself or you have to pay me more than €10K

–          Regarding security settings; I’ll tell you how to set it up, you’ll have to take it from there.


  1. Unrealistic expectations:We’re talking about vanilla AX, which means; No modifications no interfaces or integration and you have to use standard AX documents.


  1. Lack of executive support/report: You need to have the authority to make every single decision.

Much time is spent on internal discussions, getting authorisation or asking others people opinion. Most of the time simply because things are unknown (see previous point) or because you don’t dare to make the decision for your colleague or your boss. If we want to stay below the €10K I need you to make decisions! I need you to be a bad ass boss!


  1. Lack of IT Management:Keep the team as small as possible, preferable keep it minimized to just you.

If point 5 isn’t clear enough; The less people that are in the project team, the smoother and faster it goes. People in the project team have knowingly or unknowingly secondary agenda’s:

–          They most likely want to let you know they are real smart / they can lead / they matter / ….

–          The team wants to obstruct the progress since they think their job is on jeopardy,

–          They want to use this to prove themselves and also climb the corporate ladder,

–          They want to use the ERP to change procedures,

–          …

All nice and well, but I really don’t have time for politics if we have to remain below the €10K.


It is possible

You are joking right, you ask? Not really! As an example I’ve implemented a fixed asset module in just 2 days (reference can be provided upon request) The CFO himself told me he wanted to use simple straight line depreciation and he already had his team prepare all the data for me. Everything else he trusted me to setup; I’m a CFO myself, have over 18 years of experience with implementing AX and I’ve implemented AX fixed assets multiple times. On another project the implementation took me over 6 months. This was because I had to spend time on gathering data, explaining to the team what we are doing, help with the data migration, conduct project management meetings etc. Read also this blog and learn how to save millions on ERP implementations.


Shall we do business?

Can I give any guarantees? Not really. It starts with a meeting and just like dating, it feels good or it doesn’t. Also, just like dating, I have to detect how high maintenance your company is, which determines the effort I have to put in.


Further, Dynamics AX (cloud version) is not to be sold to companies below 50 enterprise users and with that all the conditions mentioned above are most likely not feasible. But do understand; if you spend millions on an ERP implementations, went X times over budget, deadlines were not met or the quality is really bad, then most likely you violated one of the 6 rules mentioned above.


Do you feel that I missed something? Please do share your thoughts with us and tell us your experience in the comments bellow. Also feel free to contact us for more information and subscribe to our newsletter to receive news about Dynamics AX straight to your inbox.


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  1. NevilleJuly 07, 2016   

    A large number of ERP implementations involve the design of a solution involving the operations side of a business where the business processes have to be decided, designed (even if there are no developments allowed. But the pushback here from users will be intense). Then there has to be buy in from users. Expectations are created and unless there is constant feedback of the system to users, which takes time, these will not be met entirely or maybe not a all.

  2. Ron McVicarMarch 01, 2017   

    1st thanks and good post. My two cents: A number of system integrators or MS Dyn ERP VAR’s do not have a sound practice management which also include a strategy to allow their customer engagement to implement affectively. Basically both need to have understanding of the methodology: the management of the engagement, the plan and implementation of real GAP issues: in the business and / or between the business and the vendor, out of the box engagement and the product. A customer engagement team need to include engaged executive member(s) and engaged ownership users. With half of almost all engagements being professional services to little is spent on developing the people, business process and the get it done part of the implementation. Both parties need to be in scope, in budget and on time. Years ago in the 1990’s vendors who wanted to sell, implement and support an ERP had to go through a practice management boot camp. I think more governance and methodology in across the board practice management in engagements need to be developed. Many customers do not check out the vendor and their references which looked at based upon was the solution reasonably on time, in budget and in scope would get better engagement partners. Groups like Dynamics Communities and the NAVUG, GPUG, AXUG would serve the community member by developing a customer engagement boot camp (how to get and achieve a better engagement). Both the user and vendor community could engage in this to improve implementations, upgrades, etc. Gartner and Forrester (and others) have focused on this for years. Vendors have had systems like SureStep. I think the user community would not only help the “maturity models” of their own employers but the over all ERP landscape.

    • Stefan van den BrinkMarch 08, 2017   

      Hi Ron, very valuable 2 cents. I cannot deny that Partners, Microsoft or the UGs have anything valuable to offer in this regard. On larger project, luckily, I do see that the customer is taking the initiative to hire change management consultants helping preparing the business with not only the adoption of ERP system but also helping building a good team of consultants and SME’s. Some customers even let the project or program be management by an independent third party firm. The combination is good formula for success.

      The issue here is that customers don’t see the added value versus the extra costs that have to be paid to have change managers involved. And partners are reluctant to advice the customers to do so, especially when we are talking about fixed price projects.

  3. David W RustonMarch 10, 2017   

    I really enjoyed that read. Blunt, to the point and a thought provoking. As a PM myself this is exactly the kind of discussions I have with the project sponsor right at the outset, managing realistic expectations is critical.

    • Stefan van den BrinkMarch 13, 2017   

      Blunt = Dutch. Till today I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. Anyway I do agree that it all starts with Managing the expectations. Not only from the get go, but also during the project, due to “Progressive insight”!

  4. DmitriyJune 21, 2018   

    I think it short retelling Lawrence Leach book “Critical Chain Project Management” 🙂
    Must read
    Best regards

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