Getting the most from an ERP system requires two areas of focus: picking the right ERP provider and implementing their services properly (carefully). Neglecting one in favor of the other will limit the impact your ERP has on your organization and expose you to risks and vulnerabilities you wished you avoided.
In this article will focus on the second part of the process, implementing an ERP system. Follow these steps to speed up the process while ensuring the best possible outcomes:
- Consider Specialized Support – An ERP implementation can be a long and complex process. If you have a limited in-house tech team or have never undergone a major revision to your IT, you might find the implementation process overwhelming. Consider working with a provider of ERP implementation services from the start. They will evaluate the needs of your business, align those with the capability of your system, and then execute the implementation carefully and systematically. You incur an extra cost but sidestep major pitfalls as a result.
- Prepare Your Team for Change – The reason you’re implementing an ERP system is because you want to fundamentally change the way you do things. Once the system is in place, everyone on your team is able to operate more collaboratively, transparently, and innovatively. It’s important to educate your team in advance about the capabilities of the ERP, your motives for implementing it, and your expectations for how it will be used. This kind of open, direct approach helps to get everyone feeling excited rather than resistant about the change.
- Get Your Data Ready – Quality ERP systems will flexibly and fluidly adapt to many different kind of data. It’s important to understand, however, that their adaptability is not universal, and that not all your data will be appropriate to enter into ERP databases. Start by making sure that any data you want to integrate is stored in acceptable file formats. Then scour that data for items you may want to exclude like information about old, inactive customers or information that doesn’t need to be shared company wide.
- Plan for Change – ERP implementations, like most major IT initiatives, rarely go exactly as planned. Before you actually start implementing the system, identify your major needs and primary end goals. Once the implementation goes into effect, you can amend or revise the process as necessary without compromising the core purpose for the project.
- Test Early, Often and Extensively – Given the depth and breadth of an ERP system, it’s easy for problems both major and minor to hide out of plain sight. Throughout every step in the implementation process, invest the time, labor, and resources necessary to test thoroughly for problems with the system, data, or user engagement strategy. The earlier you resolve them the better.
- Prioritize Training – The best way to train your team on how to use the new ERP system is hands on, in person. Since this is a resource you want your staff to use extensively on a daily basis, don’t try to rush or abridge the training process. Ideally, they will feel completely comfortable using the system to the fullest starting on day one. Make sure your IT team is also trained in how to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot the system.
- Ensure Ongoing Support – The process doesn’t end after the system goes live. There will almost inevitably be problems that you overlooked, and keeping the system optimized and up to date will now become a priority. It helps to survey your employees to identify possible sources of friction and to identify areas for improvement. You may also need to add staff or resources to your in-house tech team to handle the additional demands for support.
Finally, be sure to track the impact your system has on your business. Look at productivity and efficiency metrics to get a clear understanding of your organization pre and post ERP. If you’ve handled the implementation effectively, your company is in an ideal position to overtake the competition, win new customers, and bolster your brand.