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The Impact of COVID-19 on Existing ERP Projects

For any organisation in the middle of an ERP implementation, Coronavirus has just pulled the rug out from underneath. In the best of times, these projects are challenging, but in the past two weeks a radical new reality has emerged. At a minimum, project teams are dealing with a new world of remote work, IT resource shortages (which have been pulled into moving the entire company to a remote setup for instance) and business models that seemed perfectly legit a few weeks ago that are now obsolete.

More significant are projects—some where years and millions have already been spent—which are now on hold or cancelled altogether. Raven Intel have spent the past week interviewing ERP clients and Implementation Partners (Systems Integrators) to get their perspective on how these early days are impacting the timeframe and viability for project completion and what they’re doing to weather the storm.

Are projects still moving forward?

The majority of those we spoke with say that projects are still moving ahead, with changes either to timeframe or scope. Our early estimates based upon an informal poll are that 5% of projects are moving forward with no changes, 70% are moving forward with some changes to both timeframes and scope, 20%  are temporarily on hold and around 5% have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely (particularly in industries most hard hit). Here are the thoughts of personnel from across the industry:

Jarret Pazahanick – SAP and SuccessFactors Consultant

“There has been no impact to any of my engagements and my model is unique as I focus on new implementations, production support and strategic planning. I am seeing several very large companies in the industry (not my customers) suspend all non-critical IT spend and suspend their HR Technology projects. I would expect due to the capital intensive nature of ERP / HCM projects and overall cost, there could be 1-2 year delay on large new implementations and items pushed further out on the roadmap, but areas like production support (maximize and stay compliant in what we have), procurement and some areas of strategic planning will be busy.”

Project team member – Global Workday implementation project

“We’re six months from completion now and all large face-to-face meetings have moved to Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but the project will move ahead as planned as of now. This as a chance to make up for lost time to “get the project back on track.” (Industry: Professional Services)

Julie Koegenboeg – Unit4, Chief Operating Officer for Continental Europe

“We are fully committed to the ongoing delivery of our customer projects. We have put in place robust measures to enable our Professional Services teams to work remotely if they need to, and we have the infrastructure in place to deliver against current commitments and deadlines. We’ve added extra training, test and a demo environment for Unit4 employees so there will be no impact to customer quality or success.”

Jessie Pappis – Veritas Prime,  Director of Client Engagement

“Some projects have been paused, as a result of downstream impact, but not the majority. SIs / consulting partners are used to working remotely, but many of our customers are not. We’re seeing them (their project teams and IT departments) having to adjust to that new world of work first and that is their first priority right now. We see some leaders are carrying on as “business as usual” and looking at this as an opportunity to catch up and get tasks done, but the entire impact can’t be known yet. Things like budget impacts as a result of revenue losses may not have been communicated down the line yet.”

Sam Spector – Onesource Virtual, SVP of Professional Services

“We pivoted to 100% virtual/remote project work across our global professional services quite easily. We’re seeing some of our customers experience some disruption as they do the same; mostly in the form of cancelled/rescheduled meetings as they adjust to their remote situation and focus on COVID-19 response plans. The biggest disruptions we’re seeing within our project portfolio are Hospitality and Oil & Gas customers, but even there we see customers intent on project progress and speed-to-value of their Workday investment.”

What tools have emerged as particularly helpful in managing these projects now remotely?

Remote work tools have received the stress-test of their lives, some signing up millions of subscribers in a week. While speed and up-time wasn’t optimal in some cases, three main applications have emerged:

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Zoom
  • Slack

Jarret Pazahanick – SAP and SuccessFactors Consultant

“Several of my customers, particularly in the area of Payroll are having to quickly transition to a remote setup. I know some firms have really struggled with not having laptops available, or who don’t have a suitable VPN/Network capability and have had to scramble. Something tells me when the COVID19 pandemic is behind us a lot more firms will have plans in place and be willing to embrace remote working. At the end of the day if you are a company that does not trust their mission critical employees to work from home you are not hiring the right employees.”

David Ruston, D365 ERP Consultant

“I am making even more use of MS Teams features and working harder to communicate more frequently within the team (consultants, key users and stakeholders combined). Our teams are thinking sensibly about what the next few weeks hold. I don’t believe it’s effective to collect business requirements remotely in most circumstances – however I do believe that configuration of demo’s based on known requirements , proof of concepts and standard functionality configuration can be done remotely and trained remotely if the rapport between the trainer and trainee is good. It’s about choosing the right project battles to have and which to accept need to be delayed.”

Final thoughts…

While we are not certain about much that will happen in the 6-8 weeks, we can be certain that it will alter our course in Enterprise Software and Consulting faster than any other period in recent history. We’ll continue to monitor this situation and its impact on projects, teams and success. Now is the time to take inventory, refocus on what really matters (both at home and in business) and come out stronger for it.

This article was written by Bonnie Tinder. Bonnie has worked with top Enterprise Software companies leading implementation, marketing and sales initiatives. In 2018, she founded Raven Intel – a peer review site for Enterprise Software Consulting, designed to help customers make a well-informed choice in an implementation partner.

Thank you to Bonnie for allowing us to share this article with you.

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