ERP implementation often requires many months and involves multiple steps, including migrating your current data into the new system. It also requires you to map your processes and train staff who will eventually use the new ERP. Not surprisingly, ERP implementation is a multi-step project that requires careful monitoring.
During an ERP implementation, an organization goes through radical changes — in terms of changes to current software usage and organizational culture. The process includes:
- Planning your ERP implementation.
- Configuring or customizing your ERP depending on A/B testing.
- Deploying your brand new ERP across your business.
Most businesses find it hard to implement ERP successfully, so it’s no surprise that nearly 50% of ERP implementations fail around the first time.
Avoid being a part of the statistics by following this simple ERP implementation planning steps guide:
1. Set realistic expectations and define your Implementation project
An ERP will not magically transform your organization. It cannot fix underlying organizational issues, financial mismanagement, and lack of goals or purpose. An ERP helps you automate your business processes and enhances communication between various departments while creating a single copy of data that is verifiable and synced automatically.
Speak to different stakeholders and identify the reasoning for ERP implementation. It could be a desire to scale your business or move to a more efficient working style. As there will be disagreements within the company regarding what an ERP system must provide and which processes should be automated, this is the right time to align your organizational goals and set realistic expectations for your new ERP.
2. Identify tasks that need to be completed on a priority basis.
For your ERP to function the way it should, you should identify things that need to be done on a priority basis, even before you install the software program. Here are the most critical tasks:
- Plan your data migration at the outset. Cleanse your old data, and create a unified copy compatible with your new ERP. ( in most cases, this should be an integral part of the implementation project led by your vendor)
- Now is the opportunity to weed out financial mismanagement, unnecessary expenses, and revenue loopholes. Hire a tax and finance expert to audit your money matters and identify your weaknesses. In addition, set aside a budget for your ERP implementation.
- Speak to your ERP vendor and discuss the specifics of your business processes. Most customization requirements should occur at this stage, considering you will have already discussed your needs during the buying process.
- Focus on change management. This requires a change in your mindset and allows you to be more open to adopting new techniques and technologies.
3. Appoint an internal ERP implementation team
Many ERP implementation projects fail simply because there isn’t a hands-on team to oversee the entire project. As ERP implementation affects every aspect of your business, from customer service to production, finances, Human Resources, and inventory management, it is necessary to put a team that liaises with everyone involved. Identify key stakeholders who understand their domain best.
Your internal ERP implementation team should have the brightest minds from your HR, Finance, Marketing, IT, and Production teams. If you have specific departments that are not listed, ensure that you form a team that best represents your organizational structure. In other words, your internal ERP implementation team should represent your organization and the variety of business processes involved.
4. Conduct testing and configuration during deployment
ERP implementation is a process during which you discover your organizational shortcomings. It is a time of revelation that will leave you vulnerable and exposed to technical loopholes. However, it also allows you to test which processes work better when certain ERP functions are tweaked, configured, and reconfigured.
Use the A/B testing approach to monitor every business process affected by ERP implementation. The customizations you request at the outset may require further tweaking and configuring to eliminate future problems. If you do not have an in-house IT team, seek your vendor’s support to help you further personalize your ERP as and when vulnerabilities are discovered.
5. Invest more in training
Most implementations fail because employees are not ready to embrace a new way of working. It is human nature to stick to what’s familiar, even when it hinders progress. ERP implementations illustrate this behavior, as staff continues to use older tools and software programs and jeopardize your company’s ERP implementation project.
It may cost you both time and money, but when people who have to use the ERP daily acquire adequate skills right from the get-go, you are more likely to skip the part where you experience the hurdles that come with most ERP implementation projects. In addition, your employees may be a valuable source of information to rectify errors they find when they use the ERP on the job.
6. Continue to seek support from your vendor.
Technology changes rapidly, and it is essential to keep your ERP updated and customized to reflect these changes. Maintaining an ongoing relationship with your vendor, who can advise you regarding critical updates, is vital. Your business processes are not stagnant, either. They often change dramatically within a short period.
Your ERP will have to play catch up to reflect these changes to your business processes. An empathetic ERP vendor will factor in these transformations and help you attune your new ERP on an ongoing basis.
The right ERP implementation project plan is an ongoing process
You can see that ERP implementation is not a one-time effort. It requires you to monitor and make changes to your automation strategy as you go.
- Start with realistic expectations about what your ERP can and should do, and identify tasks you need to complete before implementation.
- Identify key members of your internal implementation team so they can closely liaise with all stakeholders.
- Make sure to conduct testing on an ongoing basis and allocate enough resources to train your staff.
- Most importantly, continue to reach out to your ERP vendor so that they can advise you regarding essential updates and keep your ERP suitable to your changing business needs.