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Common ERP Challenges Faced by SMBs

Many businesses have already started adopting their own enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology packages to great effect. If you’ve noticed your current system is having trouble keeping up with the size and growth rate of your business, you’re already wondering what potential pitfalls you may find on your journey to a more effective solution.

In this article, we’ll be looking at a few of the things you should look out for when launching a new ERP software solution, some things you should consider using, and a bit of guidance to get you moving in the right direction.

Business people using ERP software

Difficulty Selecting a Solution

As one of the most comprehensive managerial software systems your business is going to have, an ERP solution requires careful consideration and planning – so you can select the right system for your business. The scope of a newly minted ERP system will vary depending on each businesses’ individual needs, and spending the time to ensure your solution meets or exceeds your business expectation will pay off down the road.

There’s a good chance you’ll still be using this same system for the next 5 or even 10 years, so selecting the right ERP solution is going to have an impact on your business for years to come.

Technical Challenges

Once you’re selected an ERP solution that will work for your business, there are a number of technical considerations to keep in mind. Just how much infrastructure overhaul is needed will depend on the scale of the solution itself. It’s important to take stock of exactly what needs to be upgraded to enable the new ERP system to function properly. This could involve new servers, workstations, software packages, and network upgrades.

Small to midsize businesses (SMBs) should take a close look at cloud service solutions as an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) versus traditional onsite implementations. SMBs would prefer cloud-based solutions, as these companies may not have the financial and human capital resources for onsite implementations.

The effectiveness of any ERP system is only as good as the hardware and software it’s running on. So underestimating the infrastructure required to make your system work can drastically impact its usefulness!

Maintaining the Quality of Existing Data

If hardware and software are the beating heart of an ERP solution, data is the blood that pumps through it and keeps it going. That’s why you need to ensure the compatibility and integrity or existing data when transitioning to a new system.

This is particularly important when moving from an older system of spreadsheets or handwritten records to an automated or fully digital platform. Importing this older data into a new system can create huge headaches if safe integration isn’t planned for and tested in advance.

This can be a time-consuming process, and allotting enough personnel and work hours to avoid any potential snags is a necessary step in implementing a new ERP solution. Assuming that everything “will just work” is a surefire way to delay startup time and risk data loss once the new system is otherwise ready to go.

IT team meeting for ERP implementation

Managing Process and Cultural Change

When performing a huge infrastructure overhaul involving numerous systems and sub-systems, you need to involve key individuals to assess and evaluate each step of the process. Each component system that’s being upgraded needs its own subject matter expert (SME) to help identify necessary prerequisites for each system and increase the likelihood that everything will work together seamlessly.

These individuals should also be leaders in their respective departments. Implementing a new ERP solution is always going to create significant amount of work, training and time integrating with the new platform. It’s going to take a concerted effort from multiple departments and their personnel, and that makes having the backing of opinion leaders a necessity. Having these individuals involved from the very beginning of the process will make it easier to sell the rest of the company on the usefulness of the new system.

Hopefully at later stages of the ERP implementation process you won’t need to make too many adjustments. It’s all good however to briefly evaluate any misalignments between your business process and the software backing it. Making note of any reporting requirements of specific configurations that may be needed for your departments can save some extra time down the road.

Investing in proper training is also necessary to make the most of your new system. If your users aren’t fully trained on the new features and conveniences, you’ll be missing out on many of the benefits of your transition. It’s worth training individuals on the new tools they have available in order to maximize the effectiveness of your system.

Once you’ve got everything in place and members of your organization have begun to work with your new system, don’t be disappointed if you see a variety of reactions to your overhaul. If you’ve selected the right solution for your company, the advantages will quickly become apparent.

With a little time and patience your organization will start to see the improved efficiency, reliability, and effectiveness of your new ERP system.

New ERP solution adoption employee meeting

Securing Employee Buy-In

One of the more difficult hurdles you’ll need to overcome with your new system is getting everyone on board with your project. This can be a real challenge. People are naturally resistant to change, and if you’ve ever tried introducing a new piece of software to your users, you’ll already know that there’s always going to be some kickback no matter how great the implementation is.

There are a few ways to combat this, and taking several approaches will increase the likelihood that your users will accept the new system. Providing plenty of advanced warning that the new system is coming, along with regular progress updates and highlighted features, will prepare everyone for the changeover. Asking for feedback on the new system both during the planning process and after implementation will help users feel engaged and invested in your system. Lastly, getting everyone involved with the training program and encouraging users to experiment with the new system can reduce adoption time and frustration.

Conclusion

If you’re considering implementing a new ERP system, it’s likely you’ve already been struggling with the deficiencies of your current system. With some careful planning and evaluation, your new system will be worth the time and effort – rewarding your company with increased productivity and efficiency.

About author

Ivan Widjaya
Ivan Widjaya 3560 posts

Ivan Widjaya is the Owner/Editor of Noobpreneur.com, as well as several other blogs. He is a business blogger, web publisher and content marketer for SMEs.

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