In 2001 the United States Military began developing a new plane, the F-35. The aircraft was envisioned as a replacement for four different planes: the F-15, F-16, F-18 and A-10, and would be used by the Navy, Air Force and Marines. Essentially this plane would be all things to all people.
Fast forward 15 years, and full-scale production of F-35s has still yet to be achieved despite an original target go-live of 2008. Now it’s projected that full-scale production will begin in 2019 (11 years late).
Fighter Jets and Your ERP Project
What happened? It turns out that there were issues with virtually every part of the machine — both hardware and software. Everything from software forcing pilots to reboot in midair to cracked airframes plaguing the project. I argue that the underlying issue was that this plane was supposed to be all things to everyone. This one plane is supposed to replace four others for three very different branches of the military — each with unique needs and requirements.
So what lessons can we learn from this project? Here’s my take away: your project shouldn’t be all things to everyone, but it can be the right things to the right people. Your ERP can’t include everyone’s requirements, but it can meet a majority of key stakeholders requirements. I believe that a philosophy of a big bang, “ERP for everyone project” is one of the major reasons why 75 percent of ERP projects take longer to implement than planned, 60 percent receive less than 50 percent of their expected benefits and 55 percent come in over budget.