Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are no longer an optional business management software. They have become a key aspect of modern businesses, boosting overall growth. A good ERP system converts various activities and complexities of companies into a comprehensive design for uninterrupted delivery of positive output. It restructures and accelerates the process, giving the organization a competitive edge. To harness the full potential of ERP, however, proper implementation is necessary. Check out the 10 must-follow steps for successful ERP implementations below:
Establish your business objectives
Unless you resolve the issues encountered by the company, you will have trouble identifying the actual objective for ERP implementations. So, stop asking if the company should implement ERP. Instead, start enquiring why the company needs ERP in the first place.
The answer lies in analyzing the key performance indicators that provide a better idea regarding the need for software intervention. Key objectives assist with present and future projections, enabling businesses to factor in scalability and accommodate changes in the future of the company or industry.
Make your scope clear
According to the 2011 ERP Report from Panorama Consulting Group, 61.1 percent of ERP implementations exceed expected durations while 74.1 percent pass the established budget by a wide margin. The main reason behind the over-budgeting and delays is the unclear definition of the enterprise resource planning requirement. Companies need to evaluate ERP features as per their core requirements and budget for a smooth, hassle-free ERP implementation.
Figure out the options available to you
According to Capterra, nearly 33 percent of ERP customers skip product demos before purchase and almost 22 percent of organizations purchase the first system they look at. Such statistics do not bode well for ERP implementation and vendors. Optimal utilization of ERP software is possible only if the company invests sufficient time in evaluating the available options.
Businesses must learn the distinction between ERP package customization and configuration as requirements are often met by the purchased ERP system without any customization. ERP evaluation is a critical task, since options must be evaluated according to existing and future needs.
Customers prefer the latest additions, such as SaaS ERP or cloud ERP solution, since they provide the flexibility and scope to accommodate business demands in the future. So, it is important for a company to brainstorm with ERP consultants and vendors about introducing the finest solution.
Start data migration processes
Now that you have identified the ERP solution, you need to begin data migration for uninterrupted transition and software utilization. ERP implementation is a major change for a company, especially the first time. Now, the majority of solutions permit data inputs but whole data shifting might be too much for the software to handle. Thus, only the most important and indispensable data must be transferred to the system, and proper care is required to ensure the data gets retrieved from the software whenever needed.
Inspect the company infrastructure
Now it is time to prepare the business for ERP implementation. Set up the necessary infrastructure after a full-fledged brainstorming session between the management and the vendor. Make sure the infrastructure that will be running the software has the options and scope of scalability to update according to demand.
To customize or not?
The design of an ERP solution is the outcome of significant research and insight into the needs of a particular industry. So, customization might not always be necessary. When a company implements the ERP solution, it requires a lot of money and resources. As a result, management needs to maintain tabs continuously on ERP maintenance schedule and software. During pilot testing, companies should check the system adopted by the business since inception and compare how the software stacks up to understand whether the need will ever arise for customization.
Introduce changes to existing management
Business employees are used to routine activities in their daily schedule and any changes are met with resistance, especially when it concerns something as all-encompassing as ERP. The thing is, ERP solutions are not fixed assets; they change the company’s working environment and style for the better, which impacts every operation.
It is the responsibility of the management to involve employees and mentally prepare them for welcoming the positive changes with open arms. They must send a welcome message to introduce change for one and all since ERP offers optimal results only when each employee embraces the change. Thus, building employee confidence and consensus is integral to a successful and smooth transition.
Promote knowledge and technology transfer
ERP implementations often fail to deliver worthwhile benefits to a business, the primary reason being the incorrect customization for non-optimal software utilization stemming from poorly trained employees feeding information to the solution. Training is vital for successful ERP implementation and increases the chances of success. Thus, the management team needs to impart correct technological knowledge and vendor detailing to the in-house IT support team.
The correct technological use coupled with suitable knowledge transfer and training will determine the success of the overall project. If the consultant is treated as a part of the project, not only does it promote hassle-free operation but also it reduces the time gap between the sudden glitch and the solution considerably.
Ensure project testing and management
Once you’ve evaluated all available options, chosen the ones most suited to the task, and trained employees accordingly, it’s time to get down to the actual implementation process. Now, keep in mind that most ERP implementations disrupt operations after going live.
The only way to avoid this situation is to follow through the steps carefully. Any rigidity and errors may creep in from the time taken to choose, evaluate, and implement the process. Lateral improvisation must also be incorporated without changing or diluting the core objective. Testing is a vital method in implementation, which handles user acceptance and system testing.
Arrange for final touch and ongoing support
After properly inspecting and implementing the ERP solution, go live. But before that, perform one extra functionality test for added safety. This helps prevent any systemic glitches or aberrations that could hamper the functionality of the ERP software. Also, pay attention to periodic vendor software updates and perform maintenance to minimize errors.
ERP implementations: One and done, so do it right
ERP implementations are a one-time process. So, you should make sure everything goes smoothly without any problems. Otherwise, your business might fail to harness the full potential of ERP solutions.
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