ERP impacts every aspect of your business, from materials in, to goods out and everything in between. All the more reason then, to treat an implementation (be it an upgrade or completely new system) with the respect it deserves. Our 4 Ps of ERP Implementation should act as a useful blueprint to make sure your implementation goes without a hitch before a consultant even steps foot on site. Yes, it may mean an extra week or two added onto the time frame, but if that’s the price to pay for getting it right first time then so be it. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
ERP implementation needs correct planning. You’ve probably read stories in the media which have highlighted failed ERP deployment projects and more than often the reason for this is because the planning stage was overlooked. Who, when, what, why, and how, all need to be covered for minimal disruption to your business. Before you can go ahead with an ERP implementation (or even begin talks with vendors) you need to outline your business objectives. A set of clearly defined objectives for post implementation will lead to better decision making during implementation and will also get key decision makers on your side. Knowing what you want to achieve also results in fewer crossed wires between you and the vendor, and subsequently, makes the whole implementation a smoother and more efficient process. Including the vendor in your process mapping is a great way to formulate the plan, it will help your project managers define roles and responsibilities which keep the go-live date achievable.
When making any change in your business, resistance is to be expected. So when you embark on a project that will have as much impact and reward as an ERP implementation, you need to be prepared for an amplified level of resistance. It’s likely that your team will be settled in their roles, and may be unsure what impact an ERP system will have on their day-to-day duties. This resistance generally stems from two areas; a perceived risk from the change or because they’re a creature of habit and don’t want to change. However, recognising that now, means you can be proactive rather than reactive, and promote the projected benefits of your ERP system before your team have a chance to become too resist. Summarise your aims and reasons for the implementation, how it will save money and, most of all, how the new system will improve the working lives of your staff. Assure them that adequate training will be supplied and management don’t expect them to adapt to the new system overnight. Besides, it’s everyone in the business that is adjusting to the change – you’re all in this together. Turn the initial stumbling blocks into a morale boosting exercise by learning together.
When it comes to an ERP project, it’s crucial you approach the implementation with a good pinch of realism, and don’t underestimate the project. Don’t just consider this to be a standard IT project, it’s going to completely change the way your business operates, from storing emails to handling inventory more effectively. With this in mind, you should set realistic implementation targets and goals, both in terms of resources and timescales. You’ll want to save money when you can, that’s how businesses thrive, but don’t lose sight of scope. By cutting corners during the implementation stage you’re likely to suffer down the line, reducing return on investment. Before implementation you need to ensure you’re happy with the implementation plan, and honest vendors really should overestimate, rather than underestimate, predicted disruption to your business, in order to reduce the risk of future surprises.
ERP is only ever as good as the user community, so for an implementation to be truly successful, the work continues even after the software is installed. End users will need thorough training to make the most of your shiny new ERP system, which means key people in your business need to be in a position to train them. The vendor can’t train everyone unless you have an unlimited budget, so you should ensure that the vendor trains the key people in your business, who can then pass on knowledge down the chain! Finally, a go-live review should be conducted to iron out any final creases that may occur, then you should be good to go! And failing that, there’s always the support team!