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Seven key considerations for successful ERP implementations

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A strong enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is at the core of all effective organizations. A strong ERP enables efficient internal processes, effective analysis, and ensures an organization does not waste time on back end operations that take away from the organization’s core competencies. A successful implementation sets the groundwork for a strong system, relieves change management efforts, and ensures organizational buy-in. Here are seven key success factors to ensure your ERP implementation sets your organization up for success:

1.     Organizational and leadership buy-in: Change is difficult for any organization. People are comfortable with the way they do things, and disrupting that can cause negative effects to the organization. Leadership buy-in is critical to a successful implementation of an ERP system. Executives should drive the vision of the organization. Executives who buy-in and support the implementation of an ERP system help improve morale, motivate employees, and quicken decision-making.

2.     Selecting the right software and implementation partner: There are many ERP systems on the market for all types of organizations and it is critical that your team takes the time to find the right system for your organization. Make sure that you are developing the requirements that your organization needs for a new system and that vendors meet those requirements. The last thing you want to do is go through the effort of an implementation and realize a system does not meet your needs. Selecting the right partner to implement that system is just as important. You need to make sure the team you are working with understands your needs, communicates with you clearly, and works hard to implement your system the right way. Make sure you are doing reference checks for not only the system, but also the implementation partner that you are working with.

3.     Strong organization preparation and vision for the new system: As the saying goes “proper preparation prevents poor performance”, an organization should spend time as much time as they can on developing future state business process to prepare for an implementation. Unprepared organizations end up spending additional time on process decisions, which ends up delaying system build. This will help drive the implementation in the right direction and ensure that project progress is not in jeopardy.

4.     Team buy-in on adapting to new technology: Many times, an ERP implementation is the first system a company implements as it takes on a digital transformation, as such organizations are used to outdated systems and paper. This can make any implementation difficult when employees are not able to adapt quickly to new technology or simply do not want to adapt. Organizations should invest in training courses for their employees to help them understand new technology and feel more comfortable when working in a new system.

5.     Dedicated project team with an executive sponsored time commitment to the implementation: One of the hardest tasks for any organization when they take on an ERP implementation is managing your normal workload and the time commitment needed for the implementation. To prepare properly for an implementation, the CFO should ensure that there is a project team in place with time dedicated to the project aside from their normal job responsibilities. Any project can be derailed when people become burnt out and just do not have the time to complete tasks. You can avoid this by carving out time for your team and checking in with those resources regularly to make sure they have what they need to succeed.

6.     Buy-in and support from the organization’s IT team: Any system implementation needs support from the organization’s IT department. The IT team is critical to the technical implementation of the system on the organization’s network, maintaining any data requirements, and ensuring data is secure. Without IT buy-in, functional users end up completing tasks that they are not knowledgeable in related to system set up and end up creating unnecessary risk for the organization. IT buy-in is critical to implementation support.

7.     Advisory and project management support from an experienced ERP implementer: Most organizations do not implement new systems regularly; this inexperience can lead to poor planning and halt project progress. An organization should collaborate with an experienced ERP implementer for project management support and general advisory. Although this may seem like just another added cost to the project, this type of support helps organizations cut down on added cost from project delays and added time for the team when issues arise that could have been avoided.

Any implementation is difficult. All organizations will hit road bumps along the way. Keeping these factors in mind will help organizations not only reduce those road bumps, but also address them in an effective manner to keep their implementation successful.

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