Why PeopleSoft Implementations Fail

It’s the Big Daddy question: Why did our implementation fail? It causes a room to fall silent and eyes to focus intensely on meeting handouts and coffee cups.

In our experience, there are some very key differences between PeopleSoft projects that have been successful and those that have not.  Historically, we have been asked to come in and fix a number of failed implementations. It’s almost always ugly, and it happens more than you might think.  The upside? As a result, we have been able to assemble a list of the top reasons implementations fail.  Here’s what we’ve learned, in no particular order:

  1. The solution is not tied to the business objectives. We have said a hundred times over that a project can be on time and on budget but if it does not meet the objectives of the project/business, then it still will not be successful.  Companies implement PeopleSoft for specific reasons and after spending months and many dollars, it will be a complete failure if those objectives are not achieved. Seems obvious, but it’s incredible how often this gets brushed aside during a project in favor of more tactical objectives.
  2. Scope is not managed. Scope creep is the number one killer of a project.  Scope can kill a project with one large change or many, many small changes (what we call ‘death by duck bites’).
  3. Organization is not prepared for change. Certainly implementing the software flawlessly is key for a successful engagement, but beyond the software it is important that the organization is ready to use the software and prepared for the business changes that will come.  Without being prepared for change, there is a high chance that user adoption of the new software will be negatively impacted and the software blamed.  In effect, it is not the software, but the failure of being ready to use it, support it and adopt new business processes which lead to the project’s failure.
  4. Project team skills are not appropriate and unavailable. Many times during the sales cycle when we discuss what is key to success, we are promised only the best and brightest dedicated to the project.  Unfortunately, business priorities often intervene and the project ends up being staffed with RIP (Retired in Place) folks and resources who have never even seen a mouse.  The new software will help establish best practices and having a team engaged that understand the details of the business and are motivated to succeed is very important.
  5. Executive sponsorship is not strong nor visible. The role of the executive sponsor is often overlooked but that role’s importance should not be.  Executive sponsors will be key for managing scope and change requests, ensuring the project has the correct resources and resolving issues.  I have seen many a project have all of the right elements except a strong executive sponsor and still struggle because of it.
  6. The system is not sustainable by the customer. There are cost cutting implementation methods out there such as lab, offshore etc., which can implement for a lower cost, but there is a price to pay for that lower cost.  The highest price paid is the fact that insufficient knowledge transfer has occurred and the client is unable to sustain and support the solution once it is live and the implementation partner has departed.  The client must be able to support and grow the solution and have the knowledge to do so.
  7. End users are not trained. Often, as the go-live pressures mount to hit the expected date and not increase any costs, corners are inevitably cut.  Generally those corners are cut in testing or training — both of which are major mistakes.  End users must be trained in order to effectively use the solution.  A proper and efficient training program must be developed and executed timed close to go-live to ensure end users are ready for the software.  Ignoring this training will only result in many help desk issues, a stressed go-live and ultimately poor user adoption. And what does that spell? Failed implementation.

Don’t think for a second that there are only seven reasons why implementations go south. Sadly, there are many more. In my follow up post, I will outline what MIPRO’s mitigation strategies are to ensure these do not happen and we have a successful PeopleSoft implementation.

In the meantime, if you have a question about this or your own horror story, please don’t be afraid to tell me about it. We do a lot of clean-up work, and we’ve primed some insanely successful projects. I’d love to hear from you.


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MIPRO Consulting main website.

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  1. […] part one we identified some of the main reasons large PeopleSoft projects fail.  Now let’s discuss how we […]

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