A reality for any organisation with enterprise applications, such as SAP or Oracle, is that they will need to upgrade their software at some time.

Reasons for upgrades include: The old application will no longer be supported, and an unsupported application is too high a risk; there are new capabilities in later versions of applications that will enable an organisation to operate more efficiently; and competitors are gaining advantage through new technologies such as mobile, big data, and cloud, and these require later versions of applications.

There have been a number of high-profile enterprise software upgrade failures over the past few years, an extreme example being the upgrade of Queensland Health’s payroll, which resulted in a $2-billion budget blowout.

As long as there is a system that rewards firms for failure, failure will continue. Despite the many high-profile IT systems implementation failures, organisations will still be charged high fees for upgrade implementations that run the risk of not delivering the required benefits or business needs.

Upgrading enterprise software is risky because it is a massively complex and costly undertaking that requires vast technical skill as well as considerable management and governance to ensure the project delivers what the organisation needs, on time and on budget. Over the past 20 years, there has been little advancement on how to achieve this, with an over-reliance on external systems integrators and a lack of accountability for the benefits that are envisaged. There is a better way.

Reduce the reliance on external consultants

The track record for most systems integrators is poor. Generally speaking, it is in the interest of the external systems integrator for these projects to run over time and over budget. Quite often, an external systems integrator will under-quote an IT project banking on the project blowing out in regard to scope and time, resulting in massive additional fees—clearly not ideal for project budgets.

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