If in Google you were to type in "failure rates" of ERP projects or BPM (business process management) projects or process automation projects, you'd be shocked to find hundreds of links discussing why such projects fail. Without going into actual values, (which could range from 30% to 70%!!!!) it becomes abundantly clear that such products fail on a regular basis.
When I came across this more than 8 years back, I was just as shocked - after all this was an industry with companies like Infosys, Wipro, Accenture that were the toast of the IT world, and these companies were delivering duds??? How's that possible?
And even today, nothing has changed, has it? The list of failures or reasons for failure is just as long... if you do not believe it, then check it out yourself!
Now imagine such kinds of failure rates in any other industry - aeroplanes? condoms? It will lead to major litigations if not riots
This is not just the case with big companies but small and medium businesses also face the same fate while trying to automate their businesses.
Without going too much into the reasons for this (a quick infographic below gives an idea) - reasons you will find in the most links that we found in our search above written by experts way more experienced and knowledgeable than me - we must instead ask, what have these software companies done to reduce these failures and alleviate customer pain?
Yes, why indeed nothing has changed in so many years of automating businesses? So much failure and no solution yet? Are companies making money out of their customers failing repeatedly? Especially if this is the primary work being performed by these companies - their raison d'être, if you will, then why no improvement?
Forget change, even today, when cars have become driverless and flights are on autopilot, business cannot even make a small change in their software without budgets, impact studies, approvals and a lot of grovelling, can they? Is that even fair to the companies that are pouring in millions into trying to becoming more efficient and automated.
When I learnt the failure statistics, I approached many consulting and implementing employees of these esteemed companies. I thought they will blame the technology, the complexity etc. for failures. But I was just as devastated to hear their reason as you will be when you hear it - they said it was the "customer", "they do not know what they want" - yes, the very folks that were the reason for their existence in the first place. And this was the case with almost everyone I spoke with.
Let's cut to the chase, let me tell you the reason - the reason is simple - their software is highly complex, it is all hard-coded, not easily changeable and their solutions invariably depend on many different products working together (not without reason are they often called systems integrators!). Such a solution does not change easily and hence normal business people, who are no process experts but just following the company practice, are burdened with coming up with end to end Requirements Documents after having "come to the same page" with 100 of folks from different departments, and then Sign Off on this document swearing that there will be no change! Can you imagine the burden on these employees?
On the other hand, what if software implementation could be done in a "Use and Improve" manner - a collaborative process where users try out and then ask for changes till they are satisfied! They do not have to worry about creating end to end documents or signing off on them. Or not worry even about paying Advances!! The implementation takes place in an environment -