Implementing an ERP system is one of the most complicated, expensive, and time-consuming tasks your business can undertake going into 2016. The potential for delays and unexpected expenses are lurking around every corner. To help you avoid these costly mistakes, we’re going to give you some invaluable advice that will help you avoid becoming an example of an ERP implementation gone wrong.

Depending on the size of the system that you need, implementing a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. And while a successful implementation can help you cut costs and streamline your workflow, a poorly planned one is the equivalent shooting yourself in the foot. We don’t want you to shoot yourself in the foot.

ERP Implementation Mistakes

1. Poor planning. You can’t wing it when it comes to implementing ERP. Planning is an essential part of the process. If you don’t plan there’s going to be a lot of confusion and problems down the road. How do you avoid this? Most experts agree that hiring an accomplished third-party who has experience implementing enterprise resource planning systems for companies like yours will help you avoid this mistake.

2. Not doing your own research. Many clients have a tendency to let a vendor’s marketing team sell them on a system without doing any research of their own. Then, once implementation has been completed, they’re shocked by the lack of capabilities concerning what their business needs. How do you avoid this? Ask for references, do your own research, and ask any questions you feel are necessary to ensure that this ERP really is the right solution for your business.

3. Not taking advantage of key features. You’d probably be surprised to learn how many companies fail to learn and take advantage of everything their new ERP system has to offer. There are two ways you could go about solving this problem: 1. Use implementation specialists who will provide you with some training and help you learn how to use your system, or 2. Create a master list of the features you’re using and the ones you’re not using and make an effort to learn how to use the ones you notice you’re avoiding. We’re fans of the first option.

4. Improper prioritization. When you make the decision to implement a new ERP system, the single most important thing you can do to accelerate time to completion is reduce multitasking. The ERP implementation should be your number one priority until it’s complete. How do you avoid the temptation of multitasking during implementation? The easiest way is to acquire the help of specialists who will provide you with assistance and a task list that will ensure the job gets done.

5. Underestimating the importance of accurate data. Your ERP system is only as good as the data that’s in it. Period. So if you want to make sure the implementation succeeds, it’s vital that proper programming takes place.

6. Not having the right team. An ERP implementation is one of the biggest projects your business can undertake. Not having the right team put together when you begin the process will doom it before it ever starts. How do you put together the right team? Look for people who are invested in getting everything right the first time around and you’ll be fine.

7. Not having an active load test environment. There’s no possible way to see the full results of the changes you’ve made based on a handful of test users. It’s imperative to the success of your ERP system that you’re able to simulate your user load. This will help you avoid unplanned (costly) downtime and see the full effect of the changes you’ve made.

8. Not training your company. Sure, the people who were a part of your implementation team might know how to use the new ERP system but what about the rest of your employees? If you don’t take training and helping your employees understand the new system seriously, you’re going to wind up owning a really expensive version of Excel.

9. Not having a maintenance strategy. If you don’t regularly maintain your ERP it will quickly become outdated. And outdated systems are at risk for security issues and other problems. Don’t risk it. Make a plan to keep your system updated regularly and don’t be afraid to use a third-party if you need help to do so.

10. Ignoring third-party solutions. Speaking of third-parties, it’s a mistake to ignore third-party support alternatives when you know you need some support. Premium vendor support is often incredibly pricey. Why spend more than you have to when you can get the same level of support from certified, experienced specialists at a better deal? Especially when third-party support can often reduce costs by 30 to 50 percent.