The implementation of an ERP solution in your business can be daunting, but only when you don’t have a detailed predefined strategy put in place. While implementations are incredibly complex projects and naturally do take time, there are ways you can ensure it runs like a zephyr, a soft and gentle breeze, rather than a snowy blizzard or a parching drought.
Here are five ways you can ensure your ERP implementation runs smoothly like a zephyr.
Understand why you’re implementing ERP
The very first thing you need to do, even before you start the selection process, is to understand exactly why your business needs ERP. With so many organisations investing in ERP it can be easy for businesses to decide that they want it too, without already defining what it will do for them. By clearly defining your business objectives you can make more educated decisions during implementation and you’ll be able to get key decision makers on your side from an early stage. Perhaps more importantly, by understanding exactly why you’re implementing ERP you’ll be able to communicate with your vendor more effectively, which will significantly speed up implementation.
You’ll understand the size of ERP implementations and the importance ERP will play in improving your business processes, so you’ll appreciate that implementation won’t happen overnight. It’s crucial that you don’t jump the gun and start implementation without the necessary amount of planning, because there’ll likely be problems down the line if you take this approach. You’ll certainly be looking forward to getting your ERP solution live as soon as possible, but the success of your implementation relies heavily on preparation.
Set up a project team consisting of employees from the various departments of your business, such as sales, customer service, accounting, purchasing, operations and senior management. This team will help drive your solution through both implementation and go-live so it’s crucial that they’re fully committed and passionate about the project from the outset. Hold meetings to discuss your businesses’ processes and issues that you’ll want your ERP solution to resolve, and develop a project plan which you can use as an invaluable guide throughout the implementation.
Promote change within your organisation
ERP implementation is a major step for any business, regardless of its size, and projects of this scale do sometimes attract resistance to change, where end users are nervous or even panicked by a new solution. Resistance to change usually stems from two contributing factors: perceived risk and habit.
Some end users might struggle when it comes to changing operational processes in order to adapt to new business systems. Prior to an ERP implementation or upgrade, staff will be very familiar with their responsibilities and comfortable in their working roles. New and upgraded ERP solutions threaten to stress their comfort levels, disrupt their habits and naturally lead to resistance.
Additionally, they may also worry that they will not be able to effectively utilise the solution, they may struggle to adjust to a more automated way of working, or they may worry about being critiqued by management for not adapting to new systems quickly enough. They might even be of the opinion that they have to work even harder but for the same pay.
By recognising that resistance is common when it comes to a major change in operational processes, you can then start to tackle and resolve it. It’s easier for staff to get behind your ERP vision when they completely understand your aims and goals, why you’ve invested in a new or upgraded ERP solution and why you feel it will recuperate your initial investment. You need to set out your ERP vision from the beginning; before you even start to look at potential solutions and vendors. Help your team to visualise and remember the reason for investment, and why you are making this change across your organisation.
When it comes to an ERP implementation it’s crucial that you don’t underestimate the project. Don’t just consider it 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 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 future surprises.
A good vendor will work with you to ensure any disruption is as minimal as possible.
Training and testing
Your ERP system will only ever be as effective as its users, so without intensive and thorough training your team simply aren’t going to be able to operate it effectively. Training should occur throughout the implementation process and then after the solution has gone live, especially if you hire new employees. Refresher training sessions are an important way of keeping everyone up to speed.
Implementation will prove a learning curve for everyone involved, so you should allow each employee time to familiarise themselves with the new system.
Over the course of your implementation you’ll need to carry out testing to gauge what’s working and what’s not. Using a full week of real transaction data through the system you can test to see if output is accurate and working properly, and then go back to modifying and configuring if necessary.
All these steps together with the right, trusted vendor can ensure that your ERP implementation is as smooth as a zephyr.