Failure to Launch? Follow these 6 Essential Tips for a Successful Backend Software Implementation

Lego stormtrooper on sandy ground

You’ll hopefully reach an important milestone on the road to retail growth: the choice of whether to overhaul your entire backend operating system to support business expansion, or risk that its current setup will crumble under the pressure of increased orders.

A shiny new operating system seems the obvious choice. By bringing all workflows and channels together into one central hub, automating time-consuming manual processes and gaining in-depth visibility across the board, the boost to customer service should, in theory, have your profits soaring. 

But for many retailers – understandably focused on the new features and benefits to come – implementation can become an afterthought. In reality, it’s the most crucial step to ensuring a system’s long-term, positive impact on your business. 

The implementation gamble

Here lies the issue with choosing a new operating system: not all implementations are created equal.

We’ve known for a while that in the case of ERPs and similar systems such as OMS and WMS, a massive 50-75% of implementations fail. But a recent Brightpearl study (‘Implementation Crisis: Are Most Major Tech Adoption Projects Doomed To Fail?’) found that a shocking 51-54% that do get through a ‘successful’ implementation still face problems further down the road. The report also revealed a list of reasons for implementation failure; including integration issues, a lack of expert guidance, no internal buy-in from staff and a lack of scalability and flexibility in the technology. 

These are damning stats – and implementing a new backend system is a huge use of resources. You’ll want to have the maximum chance of a successful launch right from the start. 

To give you the know-how and confidence to carry out a major backend tech installation, we got together the following essential tips to ensure a smooth and stress-free implementation.

  • Lay out a strategy

Research by Panorama Consulting Group (2022) found firms that take on a major backend tech project without a strategy tend to ‘implement more functionality than needed, approve non-value-added software customizations, or overlook certain process improvements necessary for achieving organizational goals’. 

To avoid taking on more – or less – than your business needs, it’s vital to have a clear-cut vision for why you’re overhauling your backend technology.

Identify your primary objectives as well as your budget, timeline and who in your team will be involved, to give you a strong sense of direction for each stage. This strategy is the blueprint for the project and will remind you of your key motivations for the upgrade, so detail everything you deem essential to the future of your business.

  • Prepare your team

Lack of internal buy-in can spell disaster for a big tech project – so getting your staff enthused and on board is integral to getting your new backend system off the ground. 

Right from the start, communicate to your team what’s going on and why, reminding them that the new tech will transform their day-to-day tasks as well as solidify the future of the business. Get staff involved by identifying key team members who extensively know your business operationally, and assign them the roles of Project Champion and Project Manager. These staff can communicate progress to the wider team, and ensure the project is led with in-depth, firsthand knowledge.

To make this easier, Brightpearl’s interface is concise and user-friendly. Our expert-led implementation process also includes training your wider team so that they feel confident and able to independently use the system. 

  • Audit the technology 

‘Integration issues’ is the top reason for implementation failure; and it’s for this reason that auditing the technology – both of your business and of the potential backend system provider – is an essential port of call before signing on the dotted line.

A badly executed integration between systems is a nightmare for operations. Using manual workarounds such as spreadsheets to plug gaps in data will slow down business and stunt progress. Therefore it’s vital to choose a system that not only harmonizes with the unique infrastructure of your business, but naturally facilitates your vision for growth.

To promote longevity, agility and flexibility in your business as it scales and evolves, Brightpearl easily extends to your most valued apps and channels, such as Shopify Plus, Shipstation and Amazon with its seamless Plug & Play integrations, so you’re free to swap them out and create a custom tech stack over time.

Your new backend operating system should be progressive enough to support the future of your business; so ensure it scales with you, or you risk a wasted investment.

  • Beware of going over budget and over timeline

ERP and OMS implementations typically take up to 200 days longer than predicted and cost up to a third more than planned, so it’s fair to say the high price tag of ERP installation doesn’t pay for speed or convenience. In fact, it’s not uncommon for ERPs to take 2-3 years to implement.

Avoid these eye-watering costs and the unwanted disruption of a super long set-up by outlining your expectations with the vendor up front and asking for specific quotes in advance.

At Brightpearl, we thoroughly assess the scope of the project before work starts to provide you with a fixed, up front cost – and be sure you stick to it. With an average implementation time of 120 days, it’s a sound investment of your money and time.

  • Get help from the experts

Carrying out the implementation yourself is an attempt to lower costs that rarely bears fruit.

Even if you are successful, there’s a strong likelihood the system will be buggy. Our study revealed that half (49%) of enterprises carrying out a DIY backend software implementation have faced major challenges post implementation of their system.

Getting the help of expert consultants is the only way to go. There are simply too many variables to a major tech project that only trained experts can handle – and you’ll appreciate the support should inevitable hurdles arise. 

At Brightpearl, our implementation is designed, planned, managed and configured by experienced, in-house experts – and our 97% success rate speaks for itself.

  • Choose a winning formula 

An all-important step that negates the majority of issues? Choose a retail-focused operating system that can give data-backed evidence of its implementation success. 

Brightpearl seamlessly integrates with your existing tech stack and promotes a flexible approach to scaling; avoids disruption to your daily operations; and won’t shock you with hidden costs, months into the process. 

With the help of expert implementation consultants as standard, as well as round-the-clock support, Brightpearl also won’t expect you to tackle problems yourself.

If you’re interested in trying out Brightpearl’s flexible ROS for your business, book a demo today.

Want to know more about implementation? Brightpearl has produced a new report: ‘Implementation Crisis: Are Most Major Tech Adoption Projects Doomed to Fail?’, which includes a complete rundown of all the major reasons and rationale for implementation failure. Read it here.