5 ERP Warning Signs That Data Might Burst Your Balloon

Have you ever watched a balloon over-inflate until it burst? With each added breath the rubber skin stretches and pulls, until finally, the air pressure on the inside becomes stronger than the rubber membrane that forms the balloon body. A loud “pop” and balloon annihilation results.
Like the inflating of a balloon, Enterprise Software breathes life into a business, as a limp and lifeless ERP is expanded with business data. When an ERP project has been executed with accountability and responsibility, data is infused and the software flourishes. Unfortunately, ERP projects often do not adequately prepare for data integration, and business data overinflates the system causing it to strain or even “pop” under the pressure. After years of rescuing floundering ERP projects, I have compiled a list of 5 warning signs that your system may be destined for a “pop.”
1. Your system integration team believes that “Data is a business problem.”
It is not uncommon for the System Integrators to marginalize their responsibility for the business data. Obviously, data belongs to the business, however, integration strategy (or the transfer of business data to live functionality within the system) is crucial for successful ERP implementation. After all, the reason for a new ERP is to get business data into and out of the new system. System integrators should work hand in hand with customers to plan for integration methods, data migration, and working timetables.
2. You only plan one test data load before “Go Live.”
Data is fluid. It is the lifeblood of your business, and it can be messy, unpredictable, and deceptively complex. ERP aims to bridge gaps between systems that are not necessarily compatible, enabling a smooth data flow between software and process optimization. To be successful, it takes multiple data cycles followed by an assessment to ensure that the system—including reports, interfaces, and downstream systems--is behaving as expected. With insufficient or poorly timed data test runs, your ERP project is heading for stress.
3. You don’t share Data Readiness Metrics or data-related issues in regular status meetings.
Withholding information about potential issues or ignoring red flags regarding data readiness is like poking small holes in your business balloon. Without identifying potential problems, large or small, early on, major setbacks can follow. Your balloon may take air, but it will never inflate efficiently or reach its full potential if possible problems are not addressed early and repaired promptly.
*Best Practice: Have a knowledgeable Data Lead involved from the start of the project to manage and report on data-related activities.
4. You use “fake” data for testing cycles.
Using pretend data to test system functionality is like using a rowboat to cross an ocean. Your business’s real data is dynamic, variable, and nuanced in ways that fabricated data will not be. Your business is unique, and solutions will be customized based on the complexity that comes with your organic data cycles. The most powerful tool to reveal data challenges and to fix them is the collection, filtration, cleaning, transformation, and actual loading of data.
5. You don’t have a Data Validation Strategy.
Data validation is a process for determining that data is complete and correct. It is a set of planned, auditable activities that should start before functional testing of the new ERP and should be performed again before “Go Live.” Without a solid data validation strategy implemented, inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and incomplete data can stall your entire business during critical ERP testing. A well-constructed Data Validation Plan is the key to helping the project team identify data issues and take action well before data errors “burst” the project’s progress.

These five missteps in ERP implementation can be factors that stretch the project balloon to its elastic limit. No one tackling an Enterprise Software implementation wants to experience a data “pop,” or “burst” their project’s success. Be watchful of these five data warning signs, make quick course corrections, and stay on track for ERP success.