ERP implementation issues: why aren’t ERP consultants process mining?

Anyone who has worked as a CIO is aware that ERP implementation issues are very real and very costly.  Process Mining can help.


When ERP implementation projects go wrong, the magnitude of disruption, cost and delay is exponential. So you have to ask – why don’t ERP vendors use readily available process mining tools to limit risk and maximise success? 

This isn’t a new issue. A CIO Magazine article by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff in 2017 entitled “11 common ERP mistakes and how to avoid them”, listed ‘not doing careful requirements gathering’ as the number one ERP implementation issue.

In the article, Ed Featherston, then VP and Principal Architect at consulting firm Cloud Technology Partners stated:

“It is very common, and very tempting, to take existing business processes as is and automate them with [an] ERP system. While conceptually this is understandable, you take the time and make the effort to analyze those processes as part of your ERP requirements gathering. Implementing a new ERP system is an opportunity to identify and improve/redesign your business processes. Automating a bad process only makes a bad process run faster”.

In the same article Brian Berns, CEO of enterprise cloud solutions firm Knoa Software went on to reinforce this, he said:

“Too many companies fail to identify crucial software usage issues/pain points and map out critical processes prior to beginning migration to a new ERP solution. Business-critical issues must be identified and addressed before the migration, so that necessary adjustments can be made to outdated, inefficient and complex processes before they are simply moved onto a new platform.”

What don’t you know in an ERP implementation

It is hard to understand how this happens, given the extensive workshops, interviews and meticulous planning that goes into most ERP implementations. But that is where the answer lies. Using old school information gathering techniques isn’t all that helpful when you’re trying to succeed in implementing a next generation, large IT project.

The finger points both ways in this. It is impossible for the ERP vendor or reseller to map out processes they don’t know about; those hidden steps, the exceptions, the way things actually work – as opposed to how a manager believes they should. They can’t uncover them, because they don’t know they need to ask the question.

Similarly, the customer representatives involved in the scoping process may not know enough to understand what could be an issue and raise it. They may also not know enough about their own processes to be able to give real answers to the questions being posed. Sounds like we’re exaggerating? Well it’s exactly the situation Woolworths Australia found itself in.

Australian ERP Implementation Goes Wrong

According to a May 2020 CIO Magazine Article on ERP Implementation failures, the department store chain was transitioning from a 30 year old system to SAP and found the store based profit and loss reports it relied on couldn’t be generated for an 18 month period. The article stated:

“The problem lay in the change in data collection procedures, but the root cause was a failure of the business to fully understand its own processes. The day-to-day business procedures weren’t properly documented, and as senior staff left the company over the too-long six-year transition process, all that institutional knowledge was lost — and wasn’t able to be baked into the new rollout.”

The article went on to state the fix to the issue was to dedicate more people, full time, to working through what the current processes are. But at Arkturus we strongly question this approach. Not just the cost of more resource but the “too long” transition process.

Process Mining for ERP Implementation

It is extremely frustrating to hear of ERP implementation projects gone wrong. We know we can address a lot of the issues outlined above for a fraction of the cost of bringing in a full-time resource (or even an additional part-time one).

Process mining uses the data you already have to map a 100% accurate, high definition image of your business processes. You can clearly identify exactly what happens – no guessing and nothing is missed or hidden. You can see exactly how the process is delivered – and where the mis-steps and workarounds are occurring.

A common misconception is you need a complete data set. Obviously, the more data you have to work with the better. But if you do have gaps we have tools that can help to fill them. It’s not perfect, but it is a whole lot better than relying on what is in someone’s head – particularly if they’ve left the company.

Process Mining also makes it easy to identify areas for improvement. And with Arkturus you can model a range of options to see if they will work and achieve the result you believe. And it’s fast.

No longer just for big ERP budgets

You can have an accurate view of the processes in days and not spend weeks in interviews and workshops. We work with you to identify the required data points. A business analyst can be quickly trained to use the process mining tool – no coding required.

Your discussions are then fact-based, working through deciding how the exact process is to be transferred, configured or customised into the new system. The chance of project success and the speed of delivery are both greatly increased.

If you’re an ERP vendor, reseller or consultant we’d love to show you how this works. We know it probably sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. It is proven globally but up until now has only been the domain of ERP projects with really big budgets. Not any more.

Arkturus process mining is globally competitive, applying some real innovation and ingenuity to keep it at a price point most Australasian ERP projects can absorb. It means as a customer you win all round. You save on consulting time, you get faster and more accurate project delivery, plus you can model the suggested changes to see what works before you commit it to code.

So, isn’t it time we all started asking why more ERP projects aren’t using process mining?

In our next blog we’ll provide more details on how to de-risk an ERP implementation (or any system migration) using the Arkturus Process Mining tool.