Once it becomes clear that your business requires an ERP solution to make its next leap forward, your real implementation challenges begin. You need a thorough plan to ensure that the implementation phase is as short and pain-free as possible – a plan that considers all current and future business objectives that the ERP system needs to address, as well as any challenges that apply specifically to your line of work. ERP implementation is a complex process, and missteps are easy to make, unless your plan is airtight.
Here are 5 best practices that will make your life easier during this challenging process. Keep them in mind, and you’ll be enjoying the benefits of ERP technology in no time.
Understand ERP benefits for specific business processes to secure executive buy-in.
While the myriad benefits of ERP solutions might be obvious to you, other decision makers and stakeholders in your organization might require some convincing. Getting decision makers on board is essential, since 46% of CIOs surveyed claimed that the business case for ERP implementation was “not compelling” enough. Here’s one powerful way to help your ERP implementation project gain traction: make a list of specific challenges your organization is currently facing, or business processes that aren’t as efficient as they should be, and then match these opportunities for improvement with the particular changes that an ERP system will make to address each one. This will help you secure buy-in from your company’s executives by demonstrating real, measurable value.
Select an ERP solution that addresses your industry needs.
Choosing the right ERP system helps improve ROI, which greatly improves the odds of securing executive buy-in for such a major change. That’s why you should determine whether your business can benefit from industry-specific ERP solutions. ERP platforms that are more closely aligned with your business processes take less time to implement because they require less customization. The more comprehensive your implementation plan is, the easier it will be to choose the right ERP solution. Your final ERP implementation will also be better-equipped to perform tasks the way they are expected to be done in your industry.
Plan for every contingency.
As mentioned above, ERP implementation tends to be complex, and extenuating circumstances can arise. Having a contingency plan for each possible challenge can save you a great deal of time, effort, and money. From data cleansing and migration to user acceptance and regulatory compliance, it helps to factor in all possible sources of risk and devise strategies for mitigation. Your data will remain accessible, and your workforce will continue to perform close to peak productivity during the transition.
Consider the need for workforce reallocation.
Since ERP systems improve operational efficiency, it is natural for job responsibilities to change somewhat. During the implementation phase, workers that have prior experience with technology rollouts of this kind can be valuable assets, and might be better-suited than their coworkers as liaisons with your ERP implementation partner. After the implementation is complete, workers that used to perform a single manual task might find themselves verifying the results of several ERP-automated processes. Workers that were once stuck with boring, repetitive duties often find their time freed up for more creative or customer-oriented responsibilities that require a human touch that ERP systems can’t provide.
Invest in training and change management.
According to 82% of CIO respondents, one of the biggest barriers to implementation is the resistance to change. Some team members are bound to hesitate when asked to start using a new ERP system, and might also be unaccustomed to the degree of tracking and visibility that ERP solutions provide. Keeping employees engaged and soliciting their feedback is critical for quick and painless user adoption. To dispel feelings of anxiety, it helps to generate excitement around the shift by highlighting the positives associated with ERP systems, such as automation of repetitive processes or better data availability.
Your employees will also require initial and ongoing training and support to ensure that all personnel are comfortable with the system and prepared to get the most out of using it. Your ERP implementation partner is an indispensable resource in this regard that can help your employees quickly acclimate to the new ERP platform. Use regularly scheduled meetings with your implementation partner to quickly address training-related challenges, some of which might indicate a gap between the ERP system’s capabilities and user expectations.
Successful ERP implementation relies on understanding your needs and setting expectations, choosing the right solution, thoroughly planning for contingencies, appropriately allocating resources, and preparing your workforce for the road ahead. By paying attention to these five essential aspects, your ERP solution will take less time and investment to roll out, will offer functionality that works better for your business, and will quickly gain support from all levels in your organization.
To discover whether implementing an ERP solution is the right choice for your business, please contact Visionet Systems for your free consultation.