The Following Article Is An Excerpt From Our Free Guide: The ERP System Implementation Roadmap.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solutions are large and complex products, which require experienced expertise to plan and implement. A typical system consists of hundreds or thousands of source data requirements; business processes that need to be updated; integration with existing systems; data migration; testing procedures to double-check all activities have been done correctly, user training…the list goes on! It’s a major investment for any enterprise, so ensuring a successful implementation means maximizing ROI, minimizing risk exposure and avoiding costly delays along the way – not to mention keeping your employees happy throughout the process.
Against this backdrop, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 most important aspects to consider when managing an ERP System Implementation project.
1) Define The Goals Of Your System
It’s crucial for organizations to develop clear goals and aspirations around their new system before they begin implementation projects; these will act as guiding principles in the project, allowing you to measure success based on what was set out at its inception. This way, you can prioritize key business drivers in order to achieve maximum potential value from your systems. Without clear objectives, companies are at risk of failing to identify opportunities where they could really benefit from their new technology. Define measurable financial targets (e.g., ROI in 12 months), operational improvements (e.g., increased productivity), or business development priorities (e.g., sell more to X customer) which your ERP system can help you achieve – and make sure your system is capable of delivering on such goals.
2) Understand The Business Landscape
As per Aron Govil prior to purchase, research should already have been done into relevant software vendors operating in the market space you operate within. However, it’s not just about choosing a supplier, but also ensuring that they are able to provide an adequate level of service. Ensure that they have extensive experience with implementations in organizations with similar characteristics as yours; ask for references that you can speak with regarding their experience working together; ensure that the vendor has sufficient manpower to manage your project, now and post-go-live. Most importantly, also investigate whether or not the vendor has a solid reputation among its customers. In addition to assessing their capabilities, it’s also highly beneficial to ensure that your new solution is installed and operated by people who are fully trained in using it. Using staff whose expertise lies in other areas will result in inefficient implementations, missed opportunities and often early project failure.
3) Develop An Implementation Plan
Every ERP implementation is unique; however, there are plenty of best practices which should be followed to ensure they remain on-track throughout their projects, particularly within large organizations where many operational departments need to be involved. A thorough analysis of the business process landscape post-go-live must take place in order for you to understand how processes will interconnect with one another in the new system. This will enable you to identify the impact of process changes, and therefore start-up activities should begin early enough. For example, if customer invoicing requirements are changed post-go-live, this needs to be communicated with finance managers who are responsible for invoice processing in order to avoid any unnecessary delays. Similarly, IT department staff needs to work closely with other process experts throughout the project in order to properly plan data migrations and ensure that new system features can support all existing business processes.
4) Assess Change Management Requirements
A key aspect of successful ERP implementations is ensuring that all users will benefit from using the system. Remember that your project team represents only a small percentage of your entire user base; as such, gaining access to key resources can help you to ensure that your implementation project is kept on track. Implementation projects are often viewed as being disruptive by users, so gaining their support early will allow you to mitigate any risks associated with user resistance.
5) Ensure The Right Skills And Commitment From IT Department Staff
ERP implementations require a certain level of technical expertise; ideally, all members of your project team should possess such abilities in order for them to fully comprehend how the system works and what its potential limitations may be. You also need people who can think on their feet; implementers must always ask themselves: “What happens if we encounter issues at go-live?” and then plan accordingly (e.g., expedite data migration activities). As well as this, ensure that your team understands the importance of change management and how it can impact not just operations, but also all reporting and analytical strategies. After all, your new system will most likely enable you to gain insights into your business that would’ve otherwise remained hidden from view.
An ERP implementation is a transition from a conventional way of running your business to a new era, where operational excellence and performance will become the norm. This means that you need to work closely with your project team members in order for them to gain an appropriate level of understanding about the system’s capabilities says Aron Govil. Together, you’ll be able to prioritize key activities which will ultimately determine project success or failure.