Is your company at a crossroads? Your processes are inefficient, your workflows are unproductive and you need visibility into your business. It’s time to invest in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. An ERP can cut costs and boost productivity by integrating all your processes into one cohesive system.
Implementing an ERP isn’t something that should be rushed into or taken lightly. The ramifications of a weak implementation can mean future problems for your business. Investing the time to ensure a successful implementation is essential.
Now that you’ve decided to implement an ERP you are moving in the right direction, but you still have a long way to go to ensure your project is successful. Unfortunately, only 42% of companies considered their implementation a success in 2018, a significant decrease from years past.
Read on for seven easy steps to effectively select and implement an ERP system.
- Choose Wisely - No implementation is successful without the right partner by your side. The biggest mistake you can make when purchasing an ERP system is jumping in feet first without a clear path in mind. It’s important to know what you need the system to do it and ensure that you choose a system that can meet those requirements. A partner can help you conduct a thorough needs analysis, consider all your options, chat with vendors and determine a clear set of criteria that an ERP system must meet to satisfy all your needs.You may not find an “out of the box” solution and that’s okay, you aren’t alone; 93% of businesses choose a customized solution to meet all their unique business requirements.
- Expect the Unexpected & Be Proactive - Did you know that 64% of companies exceed their ERP system budget? The main reasons for going over budget include an unplanned extension to the project,unanticipated technical or organizational issues, additional tech requirements or large consultant fees. You must set a realistic budget for your ERP system, and ensure there’s enough of a buffer to deal with any surprises along the way.
Be proactive about the change that is coming your way - it’s difficult to understand the true impact of an ERP system until it’s in place. However, it’s important to anticipate how your organizational hierarchy may change as a result, and have a change management plan in place ready to be rolled out if necessary. Work with your employees directly to determine where their individual skill sets would be best utilized should their existing role change significantly in the future.
Have an Expert on Hand - Your ERP system project manager is great for ongoing support, but it helps to have an on-site expert, too. This is where having a trusted partner is imperative to the success of your implementation. A good partner understands your ERP platform and is there to problem solve, address any unique situations that may apply to your particular business and system, as well as provide on-site training to new staff. They can provide personalized demonstrations of your new system and guide you through any customizations needed.
- Prioritize & Set Clear Goals - Implementing an ERP system is a huge undertaking and you won’t see results overnight. At the very beginning, it’s important to set clear goals for your project and prioritize steps of the process. If you don’t prioritize and set goals, the benefits of a new ERP system may not be immediately recognizable. Determine which is a priority - functions, processes or analytics? Consider whether all areas need to be integrated now or whether some areas can still work using their existing systems. From there, you can set clear goals and you have evidence that you’re heading in the right direction even when the project itself may seem chaotic.
- Cleanse Your Data - Clean, clean, clean. Even if you are the most streamlined business around, if you are inputting and transferring data manually there are going to be some cracks. Not all of this data is going to be in a suitable format to be converted into a new system. Remove any obsolete data, such as old customer contacts, then conduct an intense cleanse to ensure relevant data is clean, formatted, and ready for conversion.
- Test - Some software systems can be installed and used, but ERP systems are complex and often customized to your own specific business needs. This requires extensive testing to ensure any issues can be fixed and kinks are ironed out and a dedicated test client is in place to do this. Department heads should be assigned to test aspects of the system specific to their particular department and deadlines set to avoid delays in going live.
- Focus on Accuracy - Any data that is entered into the system during the implementation phase needs to set precedence. Data should be as full and accurate as possible, even during the initial stages; not only does this give employees a good idea of what is expected going forward, but it’s also necessary to see results from the system. Even the best ERP system in the world won’t work if it isn’t given the necessary information to do so.
By following the seven simple steps above, you can minimize the risk of easy mistakes and reduce the risk of severe organizational disruption that many companies face when implementing their ERP system. While these steps will lead you through a successful implementation, it is imperative that you follow one last step after implementation: Maintain the System. Checking for system updates and bug fixes helps to ensure your system remains relevant, and it also presents a good opportunity to check that the system is continuing to meet your organizational needs.
Interested in talking more about where to start with choosing a new ERP and ensuring a successful implementation? We'd be happy to discuss it with you further: Drop us a line.