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Scope Creep: The Kudzu Vine of ERP Implementations

Kudzu vine is an invasive species that spreads out over buildings and fields, suffocating all in its path in a soulless quest for domination. It’s kind of reminiscent of ERP implementation scope creep in that regard. Given the opportunity, ERP scope will push and push to erode governance structures, project management strongholds and even the most diligent core teams. So let’s examine the reasons, the impacts and the ways to overcome it:

Reasons Behind ERP Implementation Scope Creep 

Simple: everyone wants something different and they’re not afraid to ask, cajole, beg, borrow, steal, threaten or manipulate to get it. Maybe that’s a bit cynical, but people who care about their jobs are often heavily invested in ERP projects in some way or another. If they feel that their functional area’s requirements weren’t properly gathered during the ERP software selection process, or that they don’t have a voice to express their needs and concerns, or that management is moving full steam ahead on a misguided project with no real benefit, then they will push back. It’s a reasonable reaction and to be expected.

Impacts of ERP Implementation Scope Creep

So what does this pushback look like? Also simple: extensions to deadlines, failure to stick to budgets, unwillingness to change processes, absolute certainty that the project cannot move forward without extensive customization in a specific functional area, and so forth. As their doubt, fear and uncertainty coalesces, the project starts to bloat. The governance structure cannot hold. Decisions and compromises are being made without proper approval. The sunlight is blocked; no fresh air is allowed in. And thus the withering begins.

Ways to Overcome ERP Implementation Scope Creep

Consider your ERP system initiative as locked down, regulated and tight as a military operation. Everyone knows their rank, the procedure for change requests, the proper channels to navigate and the expectations of their mission. Much like a kudzu vine, challenges to the scope are acknowledged, cut down and disposed of (unless, of course, they make it through the change request process and are incorporated into the “landscaping”). The goals are clear. The priorities are clear. The project architecture is clear. No one has any doubt about who’s in charge, what the end-game is and how to raise questions and get answers. The scope stands. The kudzu is vanquished!

Are you struggling with scope creep in your ERP project? Learn more about the science of managing people during complex IT initiatives at our webinar, Organizational Change Management: A Critical (and Often Overlooked) ERP Implementation Success Factor, on January 31 at 12:00 p.m. EST.  Also learn how to evaluate third-party ERP consultants to help you navigate the waters and get control of your scope in our latest white paper, the Guide to Choosing an Implementation Partner.

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Written by Brevard Neely

Bree brings over a decade of experience in public relations, marketing and internal communications to her position as Manager of Organizational Change Management Services and Marketing at Panorama. Prior to founding her eponymous consulting company in 2007, she worked as a senior editor in consumer products for Edelman and a creative director for Mitchell & Associates. She also served as the Director of Development for the Worldwide Fistula Fund, a nonprofit focused on maternal health care in west Africa. Bree holds a BA from the Colorado College and an Executive MBA from Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.

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