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Avon's Failed SAP Implementation A Perfect Example Of The Enterprise IT Revolution

Fascinating story (albeit a little old) about the failures and consequences of an system roll-out. Appearing in Forbes 2013, the article describes the trials and tribulations of Avon and the end results. http://www.forbes.com/sites/benkepes/2013/12/17/avons-failed-sap-implementation-a-perfect-example-of-enterprise-it-revolution/ What's more interesting is this quote: "...industry analyst Michael Krigsman put it succinctly: "Basically, users will accept less crap today, when it comes to software. That is because the world of consumer software has become easy and simple to use and has trained users to expect that business software will follow a similar model. And if it doesn’t, people are much less patient than they were in the past."" Are your systems (either extant or projected) going to meet the expectations of the end-users? How much do you involve the end-users in the decision making process? Can you afford the level of "mistake" that Avon ultimately accepted?

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Topic Expert
Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Wayne,

Mr Krigsman's observation is very valid. Many people are a lot more savvy than in the past, they expect more from their software. BUT, not everyone knows how to articulate what they really need from a new system in terms of functionality and ease of use.

That's the first potential risk point: If you do not know how to define your unique and complex requirements (to use as criteria for functional evaluation), you may select the wrong software to implement. I've always advised people that "An ounce of selection is worth a pound of implementation." So make sure you get this right, even if it means you get help.

And of course if you "impose" a solution on others, that will go down like a root canal appointment. Some of the comments in the original Avon article about end user adoption are quite telling about the failure of organizational change management.

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