Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs) are one of the most effective forms of business process automation. Covering everything from sales through to human resources, ERP systems eliminate the need for the use of multiple application that may not be compatible, and provide a simple, single user interface for all aspects of business operation, as well as data continuity throughout the organization.
Thanks to the many benefits of ERP systems, companies have started to rush into getting their system in place and up and running. However, a fast, shoddy implementation can lead to problems down the road. Implementing an ERP system isn’t a task that should be taken lightly, especially considering it can pose some significant changes to your workflow and internal processes. Getting it right really is essential.
Unfortunately, studies show that ERP implementation success rates are dropping, which highlights the need for more readily available information relating to the selection, installation, and use of ERP systems. Join us as we take a look at the best ways to implement a successful system, covering some of the most common mistakes which can sometimes make implementation more difficult than it needs to be.
1. Choose Wisely
A successful implementation starts with a successful selection. One of the biggest mistakes is purchasing a system that doesn’t actually do what you need it to. Consider all your options, chat with vendors, and, most importantly, conduct a needs analysis so that you have a clear set of criteria in mind. If you can’t find one that ticks all the boxes, go ‘off the rack’. 93% of businesses now choose customized solutions.
2. Expect the Unexpected
Did you know that 57% of companies exceed their ERP system budget? The main reasons for going over budget include an unplanned extension to the project or unanticipated technical or organizational issues, but additional tech requirements and large consultant fees are also common. Budget realistically for your ERP system, and ensure there’s enough of a buffer to deal with any surprises along the way.
3. Be Proactive
It’s difficult to understand the true impact of an ERP system until it’s in place. However, it’s still important to anticipate how your organizational hierarchy may change as a result, and have a change management plan in place ready to be rolled out if necessary. Work with employees directly to determine where their individual skill sets would be best utilized should their existing role change significantly in the future.
4. Have an Expert to Hand
Your ERP system project manager is great for ongoing support, but it helps to have an on-site expert, too. Select one or two individuals, preferably from IT or administrative departments, and ensure they are well versed on the system to an extent where they are able to problem solve, tweak settings and provide on-site training to new staff. It may be worth considering a formal training course for these employees.
5. Set Goals
An ERP system isn’t like a new photocopier or coffee machine; it’s not a case of switching it on and seeing instantaneous results. Especially during the initial phase of learning and disruption, the benefits of a new ERP system may not be immediately recognizable. That’s why it’s important to set clear goals so that even amongst the initial chaos, you have evidence that you’re heading in the right direction.
6. Make it a Priority
Although it’s important not to rush, the faster a new ERP system is in place, the sooner your workplace changes can be implemented. Make your ERP system a priority, and also work to prioritize data and usage. Which is the most important to get in place: functions, processes, or analytics? Consider whether all areas need to be integrated now, or whether some sectors could thrive using their existing systems.
7. Cleanse Your Data
Even the most streamlined of businesses will have some sort of cracks in their data, especially if data has been inputted and transferred manually. Unfortunately, not all of this data is going to be in a suitable format to be converted into a new system. Remove any obsolete data, such as old client contacts, then conduct an intense cleanse to ensure relevant data is clean, formatted, and ready for conversion.
While some types of software can simply be installed and used, ERP systems are different, especially if they’ve been customized for your own business. Testing is a chance to iron out any kinks and fix any issues, and it helps to have a dedicated test client in place to do so. Work with department heads to test specific aspects of sales, invoices, and so on, and set a deadline for this to avoid delays in going live.
9. Focus on Accuracy
Any data that is entered into the system during the implementation phase needs to set an example. Data should be as full and accurate as possible, even during the initial stages; not only does this give employees a good idea of what is expected of this, but it’s also necessary to see results from the system. Even the best ERP system in the world won’t work if it isn’t given the necessary information to do so!
10. Maintain the System
ERP system maintenance is an essential aspect of successful implementation and continued successes. Checking for system updates and bug fixes helps to ensure your system remains relevant, and it also presents a good opportunity to check that the system is continuing to meet your organizational needs. If not, then it may be worth chatting to your vendor to discuss further customization to the product.
Be a Success
Research suggests that 75% of ERP system projects fail, but yours doesn’t have to. By following the 10 simple steps above, you can minimize the risk of easy mistakes, reduce the risk of severe organizational disruption, and really get the most from your system. By taking your time and having a clear implementation plan in place, you should be able to identify and enjoy many benefits of an ERP system.