An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can dramatically affect your business’ productivity and scalability. It helps automate multiple manual processes, reduces human errors, and ensures you have access to a constant supply of insights to build critical strategies. However, ERP implementation can seem daunting in the beginning.
ERP is a complex software encompassing almost all your business processes, and implementation usually ensues in multiple phases. From discovery and planning to actual implementation and seeking tech support, Implantation is a constantly evolving process that must be monitored, tracked, and arranged well ahead of time.
The 6 phases of ERP implementation.
1. Identify your goals
ERP is a complex software program that requires much forethought before the implementation begins. It is a costly affair, but it is also a long-term investment. As such, it is vital to identify your technological goals and expectations. It is important to note that operational requirements vary across different organizations.
For example, an eCommerce company may implement ERP to ensure that sales and deliveries go through successfully and on time. On the other hand, a manufacturing company may use an ERP to streamline its production processes and ensure that quality standards are maintained.
The goals are always diverse and dynamic. Make sure you put together a multidisciplinary team and brainstorm ideas related to ERP implementation. Once you have identified your goals and expectations, you can look for the correct vendor and product.
2. Conduct a thorough audit
Once you have chosen your vendor and the ERP product you seek to implement, conduct a complete audit of all technology-related items. This includes the hardware, software, and peripheral infrastructure necessary to run your business.
Much of your hardware may be outdated and may require replacing. In addition, existing software programs hold a lot of unstructured data and are probably incompatible with newer ERP programs. Consequently, you need to extract data from all current software programs and cleanse it.
After cleansing your data and removing duplicate entries, it is essential to store your data in a central repository that is universally compatible. Last but not least, make a list of peripheral infrastructure that may require an ERP configuration. This includes your PoS system, hand-held devices, field machinery, etc. You may also need to invest in sensors if you plan to integrate Internet-of-Things (IoT) with your ERP.
3. Prepare your infrastructure for the implementation
Once your data is cleansed and stored and your hardware is ready for a brand new ERP solution, it is time to prepare your overall infrastructure for implementation. This stage involves analyzing your workflows and business processes so that you can integrate ERP seamlessly with minimal interruption. Businesses often do not identify their existing workflows, making it challenging to integrate a new ERP based on previous business practices.
Having to implement a new workflow is one of the reasons why many ERP implementations fail. It is always easier to customize a new ERP to suit your existing workflows rather than you having to comprehend a new workflow just because you purchased a new ERP. At this juncture, you must also ensure that you configure all your hardware and software programs for the actual implementation.
4. Test your implementation
ERP implementation can only be assessed when complete.
Since we’re talking about an often very complex, branched system, testing and assuring quality is best done in intervals.
Define the departments, roles, or functions to test your ERP’s functions first and gradually move forward.
For example, you may initially only implement a CRM module and get your sales and marketing executives to use it until the transition is complete.
Next, you may expand your ERP testing to the finance department and supply chain.
This truly depends on your unique business requirements. However, identify problems that arise during the testing process, and get help from the vendor to fine-tune the product.
5. Deploy ERP organization-wide after successful staff training
Staff training is an integral part of ERP implementation. However, many companies assume that users will learn to use the ERP along the way. This is primarily untrue and can lead to disastrous consequences.
Getting to know a new ERP system may cause some fumbling around.
But to avert general productivity loss caused by employees that resist change or make operational mistakes that eventually lead to ERP implementation failure, it is imperative to ensure that your staff is prepared during implementation, not after.
Once your staff is trained, and you have tested your new ERP until you are satisfied with its performance, it is time to go live!
6. Seek ongoing support and system agility
Your ERP implementation phase does not end when the system is up and running. Instead, it moves to the next stage of implementation – constant monitoring and tracking. Make sure to seek support from your vendor and rectify errors as they occur. In time, Your business requirements may also change, and you will need to customize your system to fit your needs better.
Keep an eye out for your changing business workflows. You may need to customize your ERP or add newer modules. Along the road, you may occasionally find that scaling down and withdrawing unwanted modules is the right move for your business. This final phase is crucial to ensure that your ERP implementation remains successful for a long time.
Always implement ERP phase-wise.
Successful ERP implementation holds many aspects, including implementing it in planned phases instead of haphazardly. During the first phase, identify the needs that brought you to the decision to implement an ERP software and what goals you plan to achieve. During the second phase, conduct an audit of your existing hardware and software, and prepare for the significant change underway.
During the third phase, prepare your infrastructure for implementation by identifying your workflows and business processes. The fourth phase involves testing your ERP and ensuring that each department gets to try it out firsthand. During the fifth step, ensure your employees are thoroughly trained and go live. The final phase of ERP implementation is seeking ongoing support and requesting customization when necessary. This will help you to keep your ERP in sync with your changing business needs.
You might also like to read The 6 Best Practice Highlights for Preparing for An ERP Implementation Project