Implementing ERP software into your business allows you to manage and integrate data from your core business processes into one system. Benefits include increased productivity, improved efficiency and more flexibility.
However, these benefits can only be realised if your system is properly implemented in the first place, and the project is given the care and attention it deserves. We’ve put together this guide to ensure that your ERP project is a success from the outset.
Steps to take before embarking on your ERP project
Proper planning is vital for any large scale project, and implementing ERP software is likely to be one of the biggest in-house projects you will undertake as a business. You need to get the right people involved and understand exactly what processes need to be improved so that you can select the right system, and the right vendor.
1. Assemble your team
Before making any key decisions regarding your ERP project, you must ensure that you have the right people on board.
- You need to have executive buy-in, so ensure someone at senior level is involved from the very beginning.
- Selecting a good project leader is extremely important as they will act as a champion for the new system, keep the project moving and help to ensure that deadlines are met.
- It’s also important to involve the people who are going to be using the ERP system the most and have an understanding of how each part of the business works, so these are your business process owners.
- Other members of the team should include key employees that will provide you with the help you need, whilst acting as advocates of the system.
2. Identify & document business processes that need improvement
The whole purpose of using ERP software in your business is to make key processes more efficient. Therefore it’s important to take the time to look at each business process and speak to the different staff members that handle them to see what works, what doesn’t work, and how things can be improved. Make sure you document this.
3. Identify existing costs
You should look at what your existing systems are costing the business in areas such as security, support, downtime, upgrades, security, insurance and inefficiencies. This will give you a better understanding of what your current system is costing you and help you to identify a budget for your ERP project. Also, these cold hard facts and figures may help you to convince less willing members of management.
4. Choose the right vendor
Deciding on the right ERP vendor for your business is hugely important. This is why you should do your research and invite multiple vendors to interview.
- Invite 5 vendors to interview initially. Be prepared with a list of questions to ask them. Obvious questions include – How long have they been in business? Does their technology enable you to achieve everything you need from the software? How do they deal with disaster recovery and security? Do they have experience in your industry? What are their performance statistics?
- Asking these questions will enable you to narrow down your list. Once you have 2 or 3 vendors that you’re interested in, you should then ask to see a live demo of their software. Ask them to show you the processes and scenarios you want to see.
- In order to make your final decision, you should find out exactly what you’ll be paying over the next 5 years and get your legal team to go through the contract. Don’t forget to do your data due diligence – understand exactly what you are responsible for and what you need to be aware of.
5. Choose the right implementation partner
Unless you have a skilled IT team in-house, then you will need to use an implementation partner. They can help to make the process much less disruptive and will have the know-how to help make it go as smoothly as possible.
- Source 2 or 3 potential partners – perhaps a local partner would be useful so they can easily visit you on-site? Find out if they have experience in your industry.
- Don’t forget to discuss your current business processes with your chosen partner – it may be that they can spot needs you may have missed, or perhaps they could suggest a better way of doing something.
Making your implementation a success
It doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve got your ERP software implemented you need to make sure it is a success, and one of the biggest hurdles is achieving employee buy-in. Making sure your employees are on board and using the system correctly is vital since it’s only through their input that it can be a success.
1. Provide excellent training
Good training is one of the best ways to achieve employee buy-in for your new ERP system. When people have been doing something the same way for a long time, they can be resistant to change, particularly if they find the new system difficult to use.
The big decision to make regarding training is whether to provide it in-house or hire a trainer outside your business (this could be your implementation partner). If you’re confident that you have people in your organisation who provide excellent training then a ‘train the trainer’ approach may be best.
2. Ensure senior staff members are using the system
As well as providing good training to your staff, you should also make sure that senior staff members are using the system as they should be. This shows your employees that the system provides benefit across the entire organisation and sets a good example. If staff members see that their managers aren’t using the system correctly, then they are likely to follow suit.
3. Regularly review the system
You should make sure that the system is regularly reviewed and performing well. Take the time to speak to users of the system – ask them how they are finding it, what’s working, and what they are finding difficult. Provide extra training if necessary.
This is where an implementation partner can come in handy – they should be able to provide you with a system health check which includes a review of your use of the new software and ideas for optimisation.
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