Possible pitfalls during a MES implementation

Every project has its pitfalls, and this is also the case for a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) implementation project. The implementation of electronic batch records is not an easy job, and we will therefore share some pitfalls in the following blog in order to set your team up for success.

1. Scoping

The implementation of MES is an extensive project, which already implicates a major workload for an organization. Therefore, it is important to establish a clear scope in advance. It might be tempting to include all kinds of optimalizations during the project phase, but this can lead to a divergence from the main goal of the project.

Optimalizations may be included, however, they should be evaluated separately for their impact on the project and on the organization. If it is a minor change, it can be submitted to the organization and included in the project. Otherwise, it is better to stick to the basics first and include it in an improvement project in which further optimalizations are implemented.

Keep in mind that the implementation of a MES often requires change management with respect to employees and business adoption, especially if it concerns an initial implementation. Too many changes may lead to a backlash from the employees.

2. Project team set-up

A project team must consist of different people with different backgrounds and job functions. A versatile project team is an asset since it can lead to different point of views and in-depth discussions. Nevertheless, if the project team is too populous, the efficient functioning of the team might be compromised.  

Therefore, the advice is to carefully consider the required stakeholders and competences in your core team in advance, also taking into account the workload of the project. The project team should be carefully selected with a balance of people with a background in project, in project work, etc.

3. Communication

As in every project, in every team, in every department, communication is one of the most important pillars. During a MES implementation project, many different departments within an organization are involved, but not all aspects of the project are equally important for the different stakeholders. For example, the QA department should obviously be present in a meeting concerning the batch record review process, however, these discussions will probably be less relevant for an Engineering colleague.

When communication lines are not handled efficiently, this can cause in a lot of modifications of already performed work, and thus also in a lot of wasted time. It is inevitable to evaluate whose presence is required during each discussion or workshop, to guarantee an efficient communication. If the evaluation is more difficult to make, ask around. It is always possible to forward meetings or to disinvite people after feedback.

Not only is communication important over multiple departments, communication within each individual team is also important. If no communication takes place within the team, it can cause multiple people working on the same subject which implicates a loss of resources. Additionally, miscommunication can be a pitfall since it can result in unnecessary discussions or even a bad atmosphere which may have a negative impact on the functioning of the team, their motivation and ultimately the project. Ensure that the team stays a team and not a collection of individuals.

4. Leadership & vision

A strong vision should be established in advance, which should be aligned within the leadership team. A strong vision will result in clear guidelines for all stakeholders and will equally contribute to the change adoption process.

If guidelines for the team are unclear and continuously changing, it can cause a unclarity leading to different understandings within the team, and a lot of time that needs to be invested to finish a certain job. Therefore, it is important that “one voice” is expressed towards all stakeholders to have every team member on the same page.

5. Knowledge gaps

As described above, a team should consist of people with different backgrounds and from multiple departments. If no well-established balance is present between people with project knowledge and process knowledge, it can result in delays within the project. A healthy balance will ensure that people with project knowledge can support the team members with process knowledge and the other way around.

Team members with no project and process knowledge are not a disadvantage since they often have other experiences which can be helpful for the project and provide a different view on certain discussions. The most important thing is that a balanced team will complement each other experiences and not counteract.

6. Customization

Each provider of MES offers a standardized system, but most of the time providers allow adaptations on customer’s request. However, it should be very clear that customizations can result in high maintenance costs, larger validation efforts, and even have a negative impact on future updates (e.g. bug fixes) of the system.

Therefore, it is advised to evaluate avoid customizations as much as possible, or at least evaluate them very carefully through a strong business case.


All these pitfalls may be applicable for every project – not only for a MES project – and not every pitfall will occur in a project. A general advice is to address observed pitfalls as soon as possible. A pitfall does not have to be immediately labeled as ‘negative’, depending on the approach, it can strengthen a project and/or team. This way, a project can be completed efficiently and positively.


Contact us