If Cars Worked like ERP Systems


Is anyone else fascinated with the one minor problem that all ERP systems have?

The problem is that they all fail. Yes…all.

They fail spectacularly and bring down entire companies and careers, or they fail incrementally by slowly sucking time, money and the will to live out of organizations, but they all fail.

If we define a successful ERP implementation as being delivered:

  • On time
  • On budget
  • With promised functionality

Based on that completely reasonable set of requirements, all ERP systems fail.

Amazingly, companies keep buying new ERP systems.

That got me to thinking, let’s assume for a moment that cars, and by extensions new car sales, worked like ERP system sales and implementations.

Scenario 1 – after plunking down a sum of money equal to or greater than the GDP of several small countries on that brand new ride that you have been eyeing, you finish the paperwork and drive off the lot intoxicated by that rich Corinthian leather aroma (new car smell for people not as old as I am).

As you jubilantly accelerate down the street the wheels fall off. The engine starts smoking and you manage to get out just before it blows up in a huge fireball.

Returning to the dealership with singed eyebrows and a slight limp you are informed that “that particular minor issue” is not covered in your contract.

Bonus points: read the “shrink wrap” contract on your ERP software. Go ahead…we can wait.

Scenario 2 – same as above in regards to forking over loads of cash but as you drive off the lot you notice that you have no doors, no hood, no stereo and no AC. The result is the same as above but the dealer blames their outsourced service department that just went out of business for failing to install those correctly.

The new outsourced service department, when reached via a phone call to an overseas location, only has those parts working for last year’s model but an upgrade is expected any day. For an additional fee, of course.

Scenario 3 – after once again plunking down an arm and a leg you are told to walk home and to check back frequently in case your car is ready. After months of calls you buy a bike. A bike bike…not a motorcycle. You are broke.

Would anyone buy cars under this sales and delivery model? How do we continue to get away with it in the ERP software industry?

Oh wait…I know…the next release is the BEST ever! And it is going to empower every person in the organization with a rich user experience and immersive content!

It’s upgrade time!

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