Best Practices for a Successful ERP Implementation
Best Practices for a Successful ERP Implementation
ERP software is a powerful technology that can streamline processes, improve visibility, reduce costs, and completely change the way that your company does business—but it won’t happen overnight. ERP solutions encompass many complex front- and back-office systems, from accounting and inventory management to eCommerce and CRM, which need to be integrated to create a seamless experience for end-users.
There’s no getting around the fact that ERP deployment is a major undertaking, but the process doesn’t have to be painful. With proper planning and execution, implementing an ERP system should be a smooth process and quickly improve efficiency across your business. Here are some critical ERP implementation best practices to consider and follow.
Preparing for the ERP Implementation
Assuming that implementation will be speedy, cheap, and easy sets the project up to fail. you must be realistic about the resources that effective implementation requires, then plan accordingly. Since this part of the process is so integral to the long-term utility of the ERP, there is no reason to be hasty or stingy.
Before starting any ERP implementation, make sure that your company has the staff resources in place to see the project through to completion. This may seem like an obvious point, but many companies begin deployment without resourcing it adequately, resulting in overworked, unhappy employees and a less-than-optimal installation.
Identifying a dedicated project leader and a team for your ERP implementation will help ensure that the project goes smoothly. For ERP team members, consider reassigning or removing some of their normal job duties so they have enough time to concentrate on the task at hand. Identify a team leader with strong project management skills who can facilitate team communication, address any issues that may arise, and keep the implementation on schedule.
The best ERP solutions perfectly mimic existing processes and workflows, just with greater efficiency, productivity, and accuracy. This requires teams to document their processes early and in detail. The more consideration that is put into this process, the easier it is for teams to interface and engages with a new ERP starting on day one.
This documentation will need to provide a deep insight into the steps involved. It is important that you document your processes as this exists now without thought to improvement. Once the documentation has been done eliminate any step that does not provide value.
Think in terms of process improvement. This includes considering downstream and upstream communication and how the process could be improved overall.
Once the processes have been documented compare to the proposed enhanced processes available in your new ERP system. Engage stakeholders to make sure all necessary steps are covered. However, be careful of the “That’s the way it’s always been done” approach and have people defend the need to customize the new system to the old process.
Your data is one of the main assets of your organization. Any successful ERP implementation will require you to transfer your data from the old system to the new one. The sooner you start doing that, the more time you have to test the data, and the lower the odds of data loss occurring. Be sure to prioritize your data for migration, too. You don’t have to migrate all the old data that you moved away from.
Manage the ERP implementation for both time and budget.
A software vendor is a partner during the implementation process, but ownership of the project belongs to the ERP subscriber. The decisions and investments that fall on the company to make are what determines the ultimate outcome. Third-party help is a key asset, but organizations must evolve and adapt internally for a new ERP to be the enterprise-wide enhancement it promises to be.
Have your internal ERP implementation team treat the ERP implementation as a critical project that they are delivering to their “customer”. In many cases, the implantation work will be on top of their normal duties. Allow adequate time for them to complete the tasks associated with implementation and hold people accountable.
Your ERP partner should provide a detailed project plan. Make sure everyone on your implantation team is aware of their responsibilities, timelines, milestones and scheduled events. Hold everyone accountable.
A key step in implementation is end-user testing. Do not minimize this.
If the system is going to work, it’s vital that the users are exposed to rigorous testing using process scripts that match the future state definition. You should let users try the full capabilities of the system – it’s a test- they won’t break it!
Set aside a specific place where testing can be done. You may want to do testing at specific milestones and/or full-blown tests with all stakeholders. These stakeholders will become your internal “experts” and communicate confidence in the system to the rest of the company.
Make sure you understand what you will need to print, prepare examples and allow time to design and test them.
Also, understand what reports your company uses now and would like to use it in the new system. Create the requested formats for them.
Once reports and document layouts are ready, make sure people are aware of the new formats and schedule plenty of time to test them with all scenarios.
Determine how much time is needed for training then increase that by 25%. Training should be done with team leads during different stages of the implementation. Look at every time you interact with the new system as training. The training should be done by a process or product expert using as close to real post-implantation scenarios as possible. This is the train the trainer phase. Then the training of the end-users should be done as close to Go Live as possible. Make sure every department is trained and that their “experts” in every department.
Consider the training as an ongoing process.
Post ERP Implementation
Make every effort to eliminate “workarounds”.
Share feedback with your ERP partner regarding processes that need additional implementation/changes.
Ensure people use the system, share their knowledge and follow best practices.
Focus on continuous improvement and process enhancement within the system.
*Content was researched by Karina Milman and George Snodgrass, and graphics were created by Kaitlin Thresher*
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