Everyone in healthcare IT knows that enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation projects require
careful planning, coordination, and execution. Apart from implementing an EMR, there are few tasks
more challenging for IT teams to undertake.
Unfortunately, according to management and IT consulting company Gartner, “75% of ERP projects fail”
– largely due to delays, budget overruns and failure to meet project objectives.
But here’s the good news: It is possible to rescue an ERP implementation that has gone off the rails —
even if the team is currently facing an uphill battle to complete the project on time, on target, and on
Here are a few steps ClOs and their teams can take to assess the state of their current ERP project,
identify critical issues, and redefine objectives to ensure successful completion:
1. Get clarity.
The first step in an ERP rescue plan entails identifying which project milestones are off track
and determining how this affects the project’s completion, such as leading to a premature or
missed go-live date. For instance, examples of these issues could include incomplete testing
and unfinished interface development. At this stage, hiring an IT consultant can be
advantageous to assess the project’s risks, gauge its feasibility, and identify specific challenges.
2. Address root causes.
Next, the IT team must find and address the missed milestones’ root causes. Common issues include:
- Missed or unreasonable deadlines
- Inadequate project planning
- Ineffective communication between teams
- Lack of partner accountability
3. Problem-solve (as a team).
Now that the team has identified the root causes of the implementation challenges, IT project
leaders can work with internal stakeholders, staff, and vendors to problem-solve. During this
process, it helps to take a “we’re-all-on-the-same-team” approach, working together to address
challenges and achieve mutual goals.
4. Adjust goals and expectations.
During the analysis phase, the team might find that that project has a high risk of failure if it
continues to follow the original timeline. In many cases, teams decide that establishing a new
go-live date is preferable to the risk of project failure, and they create a revised timeline that
allows them to address issues, streamline processes, and ensure a successful implementation.
5. Create a new, detailed plan.
The new plan should outline key milestones, activities, and resources required for the remainder
of the project, all the way through post-implementation activities. To maximize chances for
success, it should also include plans for:
- Effective change management
- Stakeholder engagement
- Continuous monitoring
- Risk mitigation
6. Maintain momentum and accountability through implementation.
As the team begins to follow its new implementation plan, maintaining momentum and holding
all parties accountable is essential. If the project analysis reveals that the team does not have
the internal resources available to keep the project running on time, hiring an IT consultant to
coordinate activities, address issues, maintain transparency, guide project teams, align project
objectives with organizational goals, and facilitate communication between the IT team,
executive stakeholders and vendors could prove to be a good strategic investment.
Reaping the Rewards of ERP Rescue
By taking decisive action, getting help from an IT consultant as needed, and implementing a new plan
that incorporates problem-solving strategies, IT teams can avoid a failed implementation and mitigate the potential consequences of a premature go-live. Moreover, a revised go-live date will allow for a more
robust and well-executed implementation, ensuring the ERP system will meet organizational
In financial terms, the impact of early intervention and ERP rescue cannot be overstated. In terms of
Total Cost of Ownership, most organizations have a monthly run rate between $350,000 and $450,000
during ERP implementations. If a project with a run rate this high encounters delays, cash flow
hemorrhaging is to be expected.
By hiring an experienced IT consultant and avoiding premature or delayed implementation, IT teams can
more easily identify the end month of their run rate — effectively putting an end to the cash flow
hemorrhaging associated with the troubled ERP implementation. In addition to saving substantial
financial resources, appropriate intervention also preserves the reputation of executive and IT leadership
while enhancing operational efficiency.
“Our team has facilitated successful ERP rescues for several clients, which serves as a testament to
Healthlink Advisors! expertise, dedication and commitment to our clients,” said Steve Hendrick, VP of
Selections, Implementations, and ERP Services “Through our meticulous assessment, strategic planning,
and hands-on project management, we can turn a potentially disastrous situation into a triumph, enabling
the client to achieve their ERP implementation goals and maximize the value of their investment.”
JP Jacks is ERP Practice Manager at Healthlink Advisors, a healthcare consulting firm committed to
improving clinical innovation, business systems and healthcare IT strategy, delivery and operations. Our
team has extensive experience helping clients navigate complex ERP projects and ensuring their