10 Steps to a Successful ERP Implementation
If your company is reaching a point where you’ve outgrown spreadsheets and are inflicted with the chaos of multiple work complexities, it may be time to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Implementing an ERP system can be a daunting task as it does take time and careful planning. However, going through this process is well worth the cost as it can drastically transform your business, streamline your operations, improve communication and considerably boost productivity and efficiency. Below are some steps you can take to help ensure that your implementation is successful.
1. Define needs: Why do I need an ERP implementation?
Understanding the reasons why you need an ERP system is a critical first step in ensuring the success of your implementation. You must evaluate the problems your organization faces and how an ERP solution could help you overcome these problems. A good consultant can help conduct a needs analysis, map departmental processes, identify bottlenecks and pinpoint any tasks that have frequent errors or inefficiencies..
2. Define objectives and requirements: How exactly can an ERP implementation solve my problems?
Once you’ve identified the problems you’d like to solve, it’s important to set out the objectives and begin to build a requirements list for your ERP implementation project. Now is the time to determine and quantify the importance of each issue in terms of monetary impact to your business.
The payoff can often be measured as a cost/labour savings or as new growth potential. It is critical to gather as many numbers as possible and to clearly document your calculations and validate assumptions. This exercise will help you prioritize and build your requirements list based on your new processes and expected gains. It will also help you to quickly estimate the ROI of your ERP implementation project.
3. Evaluate and choose an ERP partner
Many organizations lack the internal expertise and experience for ERP implementation. You need to consider hiring or contracting an experienced professional to guide you through the implementation process. This will prevent a lot of headaches and wasted time, as well as giving you time to focus on other tasks.
4. Set up your ERP project team
Choose your in-house project management team to work alongside your ERP partner. This team should have in-depth knowledge of your business process and be empowered to make decisions. Your chosen team then needs to be allocated resources and time to prepare before the arrival of, and with, the partner doing the discovery. These team members will also serve as your product champions as you roll it out organization-wide later.
5. Choose the right ERP software for your needs
Depending on what industry you are in and how your organization is structured, different ERP’s will work better for you than others. Meeting with your consultant and discussing the various options for your business through a discovery process will help you determine the best ERP solution and any customizations you need. Your ERP consultant will then work with your team to finalize the scope of work, project plan and budget.
6. Prepare for data migration and integration
Your ERP implementation consultant should provide a detailed data migration plan. Your goal here is to clean up your data for the purpose of integrating it with your new system. This is an important step for ERP implementation because if done properly, it can streamline your operations, but if you have messy, convoluted data, it can slow your processes down. Filter out the most important information so that your new system can be clean and efficient. If done incorrectly, well, Target Canada should stand as a warning.
7. Test the system
After configuring your system and transferring your data, it’s time to move into testing it so that you can ensure things are working properly. This will give you clear insight into the performance of your system and help you work out any issues that may arise. Again, your ERP implementation consultant should provide a detailed QA test plan.
8. Train your team
Once your system has been implemented and tested, it’s time to train your staff on how to use it. The staff that have worked alongside your implementation consultant will likely have learned a lot on the job and can pass on some knowledge. Having a team of experts to provide the further necessary training will help ensure that all your employees have a good understanding of the software and are able to use it proficiently. Your IT team should be trained extensively so they are able to handle any technical issues that may occur.
9. Go Live
After your system has been configured and tested, it’s time to go live! As a safety precaution, it’s advisable to test the system once more to ensure everything is working properly. After the dust has settled, it’s a good idea to keep a close relationship with your consultant so that you can get optimal value from the system for years to come.
10. Keep up maintenance
Your ERP implementation does not stop once the system goes live. You need to make sure that your system is routinely maintained and upgraded when needed. Regular vendor software updates are a requirement upon completion of implementation and maintenance must be periodically performed as an aspect of ongoing support. Also, as your business grows and adapts to change, other upgrades or add-ons may be wanted to stay streamlined and competitive.
Not so hard, right?
Implementing an ERP system can be one of the best decisions your organization can make. Although it does take time, effort and thorough planning, it is well worth the cost. One of the biggest factors towards your successful ERP implementation is choosing the right partner who understands your needs, and who knows how to solve them with the right solution.