Key success factors when implementing an ERP platform
As business needs expand, organizations often come to the realization that their processes have outgrown their current enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. However, choosing a new ERP system is only the first step in the process. After selecting a platform, there are several implementation factors to consider to help ensure the new system aligns with your requirements and that you receive the most benefit from your investment.
Before beginning the implementation process, you must undergo a business process review and requirements analysis. Work with your implementation team to document key processes, identify how you want your ERP system to operate and what outputs are necessary to improve your business. Preparation for these sessions is critical—ask for key questions in advance, schedule internal meetings and review and detail your key work flows. Do not underestimate the importance of this phase, as implementation should not begin until design is complete.
Be sure to identify critical success factors before the project begins. Look for measurable areas for potential improvement, instead of setting vague goals. Be creative but realistic, and take advantage of the functionality of the new ERP system. Don’t restrict yourself to existing processes “just because it’s always been that way.”
Chances are, you are working with a defined budget for your ERP implementation, and you must be careful to avoid cost overruns. Common areas of unforeseen costs typically involve:
- Lack of project management – This can be an issue internally and potentially from your vendor. Ensure that you have an effective leader to drive the initiative.
- Data conversion – This is often a difficult undertaking, and you must take ownership to ensure it is completed in an efficient and effective manner.
- Project delays – Any delay can be costly and affect your productivity; watch carefully for inefficient processes or missed deadlines.
In working with our clients, we have developed a list of several lessons learned for successful ERP implementation. These lessons include:
Have a well-defined implementation strategy with detailed critical success factors: Develop a comprehensive project design, including your unique demands from the ERP system and how it should integrate into your current processes.
Encourage involvement from all users: Establish small working groups of key users to define goals and track progress.
Communicate early and often: Organize routine communication sessions early in the implementation process and continue through completion.
Develop and conduct meaningful user training: Conduct refresher and follow-up training as needed, including process as well as systems training.
Establish and communicate points of contact for users during and after implementation: Commit to one-on-one individual support as needed.
When integrating a new ERP platform, many organizations concentrate on selection, but do not dedicate enough energy to implementation. The processes and planning involved with integrating your new platform are just as important, determining your goals for the system and how it will align with your existing structure. Choosing the right implementation advisor can ease concerns by working with you to develop a comprehensive plan to help ensure that your ERP project is a success.