There are many benefits to moving to a standard Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The right ERP can improve your product planning, manufacturing, and product delivery, while also making your enterprise more profitable by improving its inventory levels and procurement practices.
While there are many reasons to implement ERP, the process of implementation can be challenging for many organizations. It requires careful planning to make sure your enterprise is well-equipped to implement ERP as smoothly as possible.
Follow these six steps to make sure that from start to finish, your ERP implemenFtation process goes smoothly.
Determine the Scope and Create a Plan
Establish clear, realistic expectations for your ERP system and implementation. Determine what your ERP implementation goals are and determine the scope of the project. Make sure everyone agrees to the scope.
As you determine the scope of the project, be sure to:
- Define business processes
- Identify system requirements
- Outline necessary customizations (though wherever possible, minimize the number of customizations. They make your ERP more difficult to upgrade.)
Remember, the more specific you can be about the scope of the project and its requirements, the more detailed vendors can be in submitting their proposals.
Once you’ve determined the scope of the project, it’s important you strictly adhere to it. Sometimes, when users discover the new, deep ERP functionality, they will want even more. To keep the ERP implementation on time and on budget, it’s important to limit scope creep as much as possible.
Implement in phases, and create a clear plan to show what will be accomplished in each stage. Determine what functionality is necessary day one after implementation, and which features and functionality can wait until a second phase. A phased approach will focus the implementation team on the key functionalities and ensure that your enterprise sees a return on investment as soon as possible.
Phases can also be very motivating to the implementation team, as celebrating the implementation of the first phase will create momentum for the following phases.
Select the Right ERP Implementation Partner
Look for a partner trained and certified in an ERP solution that fits the specific needs of your industry. This will ensure your ERP system already meets many of your needs, eliminating the need for costly modifications.
When choosing an ERP implementation partner, do your homework. Ensure their ERP solution integrates with the latest software. Find out how long the vendor has been in the ERP business and how their past implementation projects have gone. Ask other enterprises how their ERP implementation went and who guided them through the process.
Ask potential partners about what kind of support they provide throughout the process and ensure they provide you with a dollar amount for the estimated return on investment.
Set Stakeholder Expectations
Throughout the ERP implementation process, it’s important to communicate clearly and often to manage stakeholder expectations. Make sure to set realistic timelines, map out required steps, and outline total costs.
Establish and communicate training requirements for the ERP system. Incorporate a training budget into the costs of ERP implementation. It is an important part of ensuring your staff are comfortable with the ERP system and should not be neglected.
Explain the benefits of the ERP system to demonstrate why it is important to implement, but be sure not to oversell its benefits, which can lead to disappointment when expectations aren’t met.
This is all information that the right implementation partner can provide you with.
Get Employees Excited
Similar to how you set stakeholder expectations, it is important to explain the need for an ERP system to your employees. Make it personal by demonstrating how the ERP solution will improve the way they work, whether that is by making it easier to collaborate, plan, or deliver products. Drive home the benefits for them.
To improve the implementation of your ERP solution while creating buy-in among your employees, build a cross-functional team. This team should include all the important organizational functions such as project management, IT, and executive management.
In fact, it is important employees see executive management actively endorsing the project. This endorsement has to be consistent from day one and continue until the project is completed. Employees need to see executives from the C-suite championing the ERP system.
As mentioned earlier, phased implementation can help to maintain momentum as it offers milestones that can be celebrated along the way.
To maintain momentum, it is also important to keep major influencers involved so they can communicate enthusiasm throughout the process and boost morale when it starts to waver.
Create a feedback network throughout the process to get feedback on the early stages of the implementation, to improve the later implementation phases.
Don’t forget to communicate. People will be more engaged and enthusiastic if they feel they understand what is happening when, and why. Don’t be shy about letting everyone know how the implementation process is going.
Perform Success Checks
Throughout the process of implementing the ERP system, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is everyone still on board and supportive of the project? If not, why? How can this be addressed?
- Are employees being adequately trained for the ERP system?
- Are team members performing their assigned duties?
Again, implementing in a phased approach will let you make course corrections where necessary.
Implementing an ERP system is a huge task requiring a good plan, the right ERP implementation partner, and an engaged team to take your enterprise through the process. While it can seem like an overwhelming task, by following these six steps you’ll be well-positioned to make sure your ERP implementation goes smoothly.
Contributed By: Aaron Continelli, president of Cre8tive Technology and Design, started things small in 2005. What began as a one-person consulting firm has now become a staff of 58 with three office locations. Specializing in ERP system sales and services, Cre8tive Technology and Design became an EPICOR Partner (Value Added Reseller) in 2007. Since then, Cre8tive Technology and Design has emerged as one of EPICOR’s ELITE and won the 2013 Americas Partner of the Year as the Top Revenue Producer.