The continuing challenges of a volatile economy require middle market manufacturing companies to streamline their operations as much as possible.

Unfortunately, most companies are burdened with a resource-intensive process when selecting and implementing enterprise technology. Compounding the challenges are the never-ending demands of customers, a complex supply chain, increasingly competitive market conditions and other scenarios that consume scarce time and resources.

Given these conditions, a compelling question faced by a manufacturing company is how it can effectively organize to take on the demands of an enterprise technology project.

After hundreds of effective selection and implementation projects in a range of vertical manufacturing industries, we have keen insights into the importance of strategic communication during enterprise solution selection and implementation projects.

Enterprise technology project communication is the common thread in both project success and failure. One out of every five projects fails due to ineffective communication. The importance of project communication cannot be overstated.

Our team has worked with hundreds of organizations, and we’ve found 5 common communication issues that lead to project failure. They demonstrate how vital a role communication plays in preventing each one.

1. Lack of Understanding of the Project Goal or Vision

This is one of the most common complaints among project team members. It is simply not clear why the project is happening, why now, and why the enterprise system was selected.

What is the best way to ensure this does not happen on your project? Communication of your project goals and vision should occur the moment the project is kicked off and be reiterated throughout the entire project. Additional steps:

  • Provide a project portal or website that highlights the goal and vision. Include project updates, important project dates and a weekly dashboard of progress toward that goal.
  • Designate a room as a command center. Clearly state the project goal and vision, along with project dates, and a weekly dashboard and project progress toward a goal. If you have multiple locations, have a room at each location.
  • Send out weekly updates via email or convene meetings that include the project team and all employees. Spell out the project goal and vision in all communications. Demonstrate weekly progress made toward the project goal.

2. Lack of Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement starts with communication. Ensure your stakeholders are aware of the project’s goal, vision, and progress. Identify:

  • The stakeholders and the level of their involvement – Contacting stakeholders is critical in gaining their support for the project.
  • The needs and interests of each stakeholder – Listen to and analyze their responses to provide a clear definition of how the project will meet them.

Determine how you will communicate with each stakeholder and the frequency of that communication.

3. Lack of Project Governance

Project governance is the management framework within which project decisions are made.  A lack of this framework decreases the clarity of the project goal and vision.

How do you avoid this pitfall? Post updates to your portal/website that define the roles and responsibilities of your Board/Steering Committee, Project Manager and project stakeholders. It is important to revisit this each time you prepare to conduct your monthly Steering Committee meeting.

4. Lack of Understanding of the Project Scope and Requirements

So often during an enterprise technology implementation, project teams fail to truly understand the desired outcome and the reason why the path was set toward a new or upgraded enterprise solution. All members of the project team need a solid understanding of what the project will achieve, guided by the documentation of the business requirements for change, to maintain the project scope and understand the requirements.

5. Failure to Manage Risk

An enterprise technology project team must identify, communicate, and understand risk. It is their primary responsibility to ensure that all risks are correctly communicated (ideally in a risk log/register, and in project status and Steering Committee meetings).

It is human nature to avoid conflict. However, to manage risk, one must not be afraid of conflict. Rather, communicating risk is a way to ensure success. The team then has an opportunity to determine if it wants to accept, avoid, or mitigate the risk.

It is essential to establish open lines of communication so the team understands and agrees upon a risk management plan. With a focus on the common goal, project teams may have to renegotiate terms within the risk plan.

Concluding Thoughts

Choosing a new enterprise software solution is an important challenge and requires careful planning and research into potential solutions.

As we’ve outlined here, it also takes intentional communication strategies.

By approaching the evaluation process and enterprise technology selection criteria in an informed manner, companies can ensure they maintain their competitive edge in the marketplace.


Ultra Consultants is an independent research and enterprise solutions consulting firm serving the manufacturing and distribution industries throughout North America.

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