10 Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation
ERP implementation is one of the most challenging projects an organization can face. Your new ERP will impact nearly every aspect of your business. Risk of ERP implementation failure is a very real possibility as shown by Panorama in their latest ERP Report, where nearly a quarter of implementations failed to deliver anticipated benefits. With the right planning, however, you can effectively drive your ERP project toward success. Following is a list of 10 tips for a successful ERP implementation that our team offers to you based on our collective experience implementing ERP for customers over the past 20 years. If you incorporate these steps into your ERP implementation plan, you will arm yourself with essential tools needed to succeed.
Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation
1. Make a thorough requirements list before you begin the ERP selection process
There are hundreds of Enterprise Resource Planning software products on the market, each with varying capabilities, solutions and hosting options. Defining your organization’s pain points and business requirements should be near the top of your list of activities before you begin the ERP selection process.
Among the details you will want to collect are current challenges, systems and processes currently utilized, and solutions and processes that will help the company streamline and become more successful in the future.
When you don’t examine your organization closely enough, you risk having unforeseen costs later on from shoehorning in new functionality that was missing. Additionally, keep in mind that change orders significantly impact implementation timelines, causing greater organizational disruption. By understanding your organization’s needs from the beginning, you will be better able to obtain complete pricing and timeline information from vendors who submit proposals.
2. An experienced ERP consultant can drive a successful ERP implementation
Donald Rumsfeld once said, “There are things we do not know we don’t know.” He wasn’t talking about ERP implementation, but his statement holds true here. It’s hard for most people to see trends outside their business and beyond the horizon. The scope of your project will include not only leading your organization through change but also understanding all of your business processes, industry trends, and the highly technical aspects of the implementation. It’s what you don’t know that will cost you, either in real costs from a failed implementation, or in opportunity costs because you didn’t realize what features you could have had.
Look at it this way: You wouldn’t climb Mount Everest without an experienced guide. For most companies, ERP is impactful enough to warrant having an experienced consultant who can guide you every step of the way. Even as you begin preparing your requirements list, an ERP consultant who is experienced in your industry will be able to identify functionality that will help your business excel.
Learn about Trek Global’s ERP Implementation Services.
3. Your project team should include key employees from each functional area
The managers and department leaders in each of your functional areas are best equipped to explain their current processes and department needs. Involving them early on will help ensure all required functionality is included in your new system. You will also find that user adoption becomes easier when department leaders have been involved from the start. These team leaders are best able to help their coworkers transition to new processes. You need their support.
4. Adequate user training is essential for a successful ERP implementation
Many companies cut corners on their ERP training budget, which is unfortunate. A successful ERP implementation requires that employees understand how to use the system. Employees need to be able to manage new processes and enter data accurately into appropriate fields in order to reap the rewards a new ERP brings. The hard truth is that you put your business at risk when employees are not well trained. Employees who do not understand the system will create inefficient work-arounds that bypass its functionality. They will also make mistakes including entering data incorrectly, which will have consequences for your financials and other reports. To get the most out of your system and protect your investment, adequate user training is essential.
5. Learn about hosting options: On-premise, Cloud-hosted ERP and SaaS ERP
As you begin to explore the different ERP solutions on the market, your hosting decision really matters. Choosing an on-premise ERP means you are committing to hardware and infrastructure costs and the internal IT staff to support it. A cloud-hosted or SaaS ERP lowers your hardware and infrastructure costs because you can securely access your ERP from your web browser using hardware you already own, and with SaaS ERP you have significantly less need for internal IT support.
If you need mobility and are interested in moving to the cloud, you have the option of either a single-tenant cloud-hosted ERP, or a multi-tenant Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP. Learn more about this option with our article, Cloud-hosted ERP vs. SaaS: Which Choice is Right for You?
6. Identify solutions that need to be integrated with your ERP
You can significantly reduce your ongoing operational costs by creating a seamless path between your ERP and other essential business systems. An ERP with customizable APIs like found in Trek Cloud ERP allow you to integrate with many other products. Companies that utilize Trek Cloud ERP have integrated with their webstores, Point of Sale (POS) systems, CRM, payment gateways, shipping services, tax management solutions, and many other solutions for highly streamlined operations. Learn more about the advantages of ERP integration and connectivity with our article, 4 Ways ERP Connectivity Improves Your Business.
7. Plan broadly by developing an enterprise architecture strategy
An enterprise architecture strategy provides you with a conceptual blueprint that aligns your business vision with technology and processes across your entire organization. Such a strategy also helps you manage your technology costs as you plan for the future. Most businesses can’t accomplish their technology wish list all at once. By identifying future technology goals based on your business vision, you can map out the steps from here to where you want to be down the road. One important benefit of an enterprise architecture approach is that you will ensure the solutions you invest in now integrate with the tools you need later on. Learn more about enterprise architecture by reading our article, Using Enterprise Architecture Strategy to Execute Vision.
8. Establish a wish list for future ERP enhancements
During the ERP planning process, your team will identify the essential functionality required for go-live. In a successful ERP implementation, a wish list is included to identify additional enhancements team members would like but that are not required at the time the system is made live. These wish-list items can then be examined again later on and considered as an enhancement as time and budget allows. Having such a wish list helps to prevent scope creep: You can reassure team members that their important requests were captured, but since the requests are non-critical they are being held for after go-live.
9. Develop a communication plan
A communication plan helps make sure you have informed the relevant internal and external stakeholders about your transition to a new business system. Employees and other system users will want to know the background on why a new system is needed and how it will benefit the organization, along with the implementation timeline and when and how they will receive training. Higher up in your organization, you may need to keep investors, board members and others informed (and perhaps even involved in decision making) about the move to a new business system. Vendors and suppliers may need to be looped in as your processes may change. Customers will want to know in case any service disruptions impact them. A comprehensive communication plan takes into account all of these stakeholders and provides the appropriate messaging and timeline to meet their varied needs. In many cases, your ERP consultant can provide you with a communication plan template or guidance in best practices.
10. Plan ahead for a post implementation audit
In Panorama’s ERP Report, not only did almost a quarter of implementations fail, that many more didn’t know whether their ERP project had succeeded. A lack of project visibility and the absence of an ERP post implementation audit are two factors that lead to this. An audit following implementation allows you to:
- Assess adoption and business impact
- Evaluate the satisfaction of stakeholders
- Identify opportunities for improvements
- Review costs versus benefits
For more information, see our article How to Conduct an ERP Post Implementation Audit.
Need ERP consulting to drive a successful ERP implementation?
Trek Global’s implementation services combines extensive ERP implementation and development experience with industry best practices, detailed project management, and a proven methodology to launch your new system and help users and stakeholders make the transition. Contact us to learn more about our services and to obtain pricing information: