Great Expectations: 5 ways to ensure your ERP project avoids the expectation gap

Oct 22, 2021
  • IT
  • SAP

Before investing in enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects, you need a solid picture of what “good” or “successful” looks like. But do all your key stakeholders understand and share the same vision? And do your advisers grasp your full expectations? If not, you are in danger of inciting the dreaded expectations gap. Very often, what you want and what you get from your ERP project can be very different. 

As experienced and trusted advisers on myriad ERP projects, we have never walked away from a project . Working with you from the outset, we ensure: 


  • vision alignment; 

  • agreed business case development; and  

  • consensus of all key stakeholders.  


It’s never too late to bring us in: if your project is going off-piste, we will bridge that gap!


Mind the gap 


As key programme stakeholder, whether you are CIO, CTO, Project Manager or Project Director, assess how your business views the project with two key questions:


1. What will this change really do for us?  

2. How will it actually improve our business? 


Unsurprisingly, not all stakeholders may be aligned. We usually encounter three streams of thought: 


  • Group 1: “Let’s transfer systems to upgraded versions, or something completely new, and optimise our processes.” (Those driven to continually innovate and improve.) 

  • Group 2: “Let’s keep what we had before by lifting and shifting.” (Those who don’t like change.) This approach will only move your current solution onto a new platform. 

  • Group 3: The ‘moot’ group – often overshadowed by egos or ‘classroom bullies’. Their responses and expectations could be effective drivers for adoption and change. Ignore them and they could inspire discontent within your workforce. 


If you suspect that the foundations of an expectation gap exist, here are five essential tips to avoid or bridge it:


1. The crucial role of change management 


Make sure you have a solid and comprehensive plan to transform and adapt your business at each project stage. Include a clear risk profile and build a risk register - with defined actions to mitigate risks. This will drive further optimisation and help achieve your business case 


Compile an impact assessment 


  • Carry out a comprehensive audit encompassing business-specific impacts across all relevant functions affecting people, process and technology. 

  • Who and what will be impacted. 

  • The form that impact may take. 

  • How to manage or mitigate that impact.  

  • Consider who the key user bases will be and incorporate this insight into your training plan (see below). 


Communicate regularly  


  • Use timely, well-targeted and effective communication throughout the project 

  • Reduce internal resistance with innovative, short, sharp comms, emphasising the benefits from an individual perspective 

  • Give everyone space to voice concerns, particularly those less receptive to change. 

  • Ensure total visibility of goals and project timeline. 


Involve key stakeholders at every stage  


  • Ensure you have total sponsorship from the top of the organisation. 

  • Make sure everyone at the important mid-management level is also fully on board. 


Find out more about our proven and effective tools, methodologies and solutions that will help you succeed with your change and adoption projects. For example, discover our PROMAR Project Management Framework: flexible, hybrid methodologies which will transform your business, whatever its level of maturity.  


2. Data migration 


Ensure total clarity on: 


What data will be migrated 


  • To be effective, analytics and reporting functions rely on high quality and high integrity data. Does your historical data meet this standard? 

  • Improve data quality now, not later on: select and filter what historical data you need and decide how much cleansing is required. 


How data will be migrated 


  • Relevant data must be migrated in the format expected for reporting. Migration will only be a success if the reporting capabilities tendered in the design are there. 





The biggest - and possibly most avoidable - gap forms if the final result comes as a surprise to your broader user audience. There is nothing worse at the end of a long and arduous project than a confused and disappointed chorus of “This is not what we expected..!  

It is therefore crucial to involve all stakeholders and key user groups during the testing phases. Their invaluable insight will better ensure a satisfactory final project outcome. 


3. Training 


Your ERP project alone will not change your world: it will live or die on how well it is used and if its potential is fully realised. You will only maximise return on your investment if the people using it really know what they’re doing. If users are only aware of 50% of its functionality, you will only get 50% of your money’s worth. 


The solution is an effective and comprehensive firmwide training programme. Delaware’s Training Academy develops all new analysts joining us, providing industry-, process- and technology-specific training. Use our prebuilt programmes and content to add real value to, and assure the greater success of, your project. 


4. Business representation from key stakeholders 


Your ERP project must have representation and input from all the right stakeholders. By ‘right’ we mean your ‘star’ employees - those you can’t afford to take away from their day job - at the right levels, across the right functions.  


Their leadership and sponsorship will help drive the project and their insight and input into design and build should also help you avoid an expectation gap: expert stakeholder input should help you ensure the project delivers the improvements you have promised.


Delaware: not just helping you avoid or bridge gaps 


Your success is at the heart of our approach. We have never walked away from a project and will get involved at any stage with a project that is going off the rails, struggling to make progress - or even get off the ground! Contact us right now to discuss how we will turn it around.  


We invest in building and nurturing strong organisationalprofessional and personal relationships - which is why most of our clients have been customers for years.  


We are unique in the advisory space because of the sheer number of our experts focusing on a project management perspective across myriad industry sectors, including oil and gas, utilities (water, gas, power), manufacturing and aerospace and defence.  


Get precisely the experience and expertise you need along the entire lifecycle of your projects, large or small. And avoid that gap! 


For further details on how we will help you successfully avoid expectation gaps - or manage any other aspect of your ERP project - contact Kevin Heard or book a chat today.