Based on the experience gained during these years as ERP consultant implementing projects in great companies from disparate industries I have been able to gather some essential facts regarding selection and implementation you should have in mind when considering an ERP to manage your business.
Now, when it comes to selecting the best system some key points must be considered to ensure your investment will last; the new system needs to be reliable, faster, safer and flexible to be able to capture your current and future needs.
ERP selection is the first big call, you can read more about getting the most from selection in this article shared last month. There are some steps before implementation:
- MoSCoW -Must have, Should Have, Could Have, Wish it Had
- Design and
And some others after implementation:
- UAT – User Acceptance Test
- Change Management
Any company has different departments to cover different areas of the business. Depending on the size they can go from 2 or 3 departments to 15, 20 or more.
Part of the analysis includes compiling information on all processes each department has end to end, such as: Sales, Marketing, Logistics, Aftersales, Manufacturing, HR, Finance… any department your company may have.
Your new ERP system will help automate all your processes, even across different departments, so describing processes to detect possible improvements, eliminate duplicate tasks and in the end analyse everything to ensure everything is well synchronised and communication flows effectively and clearly is basic. Process owners and the team involved in the implementation need to identify and list all key elements of the business, in order to define the correct MoSCoW, so don´t underestimate the time and effort to get this right.
The objective of the implementation is to be able to run your business more efficiently and be prepared for the future expansion of the company. To achieve this goal, it is essential to identify which are the Must Haves Should Haves, Could Haves and Would Like to Have. Although it is very easy to lose the view of the MoSCoW with new features, cosmetic changes, optional add-ons, the success of your implementation will be in relaying your Must and Should Haves. With the right ERP and a professional team supporting you, the Could Haves and Should Haves will require less time than expected. Depending on the system you select small details and cosmetics are an easy fix and can have a great impact for those who pay attention to the detail.
The first step when initiating the ERP implementation to customise it to your requirements is getting a design easy to use and able to collect all the necessary information and deliver insights. Therefore, how we structure NetSuite in terms of department, classes, locations, segmentation and categories is fundamental. Capturing information correctly will mean accurate insights and thus more informed decisions, even better if your report can be on real time with “one version of the truth”.
To get the best-in-class design, the implementation team needs to have a complete understanding of the company, the industry and the ERP functionalities. During the project communication is very important, but in terms of design becomes essential. This may increase concerns about the progress due to the amount of questions raised, backs and forth due to long brainstormings and different points of view and experiences shared trying to find the best solution.
Nowadays, planning is a basic requirement for any role, job, project or even on daily basis, but again is underestimated in an ERP implementation project. A good planning with fluent communication, clear milestones, assignees and due dates for tasks is a main contributor to achieve the Go-Live dates successfully.
User Acceptance Testing
After all these previous phases of the implementation project, the standards defined for the ERP might have changed due to improved workflows, new requirements and the team discovering “holes” in processes. At this point, the Super Users needs to have a script with all daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks of every job position, role and processes. It is determining to find out specific cases and scenarios that might not occur frequently but have to be considered and built in the system to avoid critical errors when running live. To have a good and detailed list of processes and tasks to check, we recommend to start at the very beginning, get everyone involved by asking employees what cannot fail or miss. Once the testing is successful, you are ready to Go-Live!
One of the most important phases during a project is the Training to the End User. Your employees, your team, every user of the system needs to know how to get the most of the new ERP. There will be new ways of doing things, saving time in some processes and having more control in others. The recommendation for a good training is not only let them know how to use the system and avoid errors, but to obtain the maximum benefit of your new tool, saving time, improving quality of work and life and last but not least, getting better results with major control.
Finally, a key factor during the entire implementation project is to raise awareness in your team of the need of being open to the change, have a problem-solution mind, Positive Mental Attitude and being cooperative. Switching systems can be a big problem for some people as they are reluctant to changes or fear learning something new, etc. It is difficult to maintain everyone on board, especially at early steps, when everything is being analysed and under discussion together with the speed of changes and fear of the unknown. Understanding future benefits, discussing the fear and other factors that might position some employees against the change, should give enough reasons to join and help embrace change.
Through the years I have faced different situations and I can say always a good staff management and correct analysis are key to a successful implementation. If you have already gone through the process I would love to read your comments in your experience, if not, you can share your doubts with us.