I’ll stay away from the definition of an ERP. Neither would I explain how important it is nor will I mention how should one implement it. However, I can definitely tell you what should be considered for a successful implementation of the right ERP. If you are someone looking to implement a brand-new ERP, a quick search will tell you that there’s a wide range of options available. It’s no longer a wealthy man’s game. However, while getting yourself ready for an ERP implementation requires you to know where you stand in the entire journey.
To me, there are two core teams when it comes to ERP implementation a) Users b) Implementers. Each of these stake holders must look at various facets to ensure a successful implementation.
For the users, looking to get ERP implementation done:
Start slow but start right
More often than not, it is not the cost of the ERP that makes it a failure. It is the choice of the technology & processes that become an impediment to adoption. I strongly suggest to remember that form follows function. Making a wrong decision about the right ERP can be disastrous for any organization starting from efforts, costs to change management and disgruntled employees and most importantly opportunity loss. Spend good amount of time in evaluating the ERP to match your business needs. It may also help to hire an expert to recommend what makes the most sense for your needs.
Go top down when it comes to adoption
Let’s admit, change is not easy. Unless driven from the top where the key leadership adopts the ERP, it becomes very difficult for the entire organization to fall in line. More often than not, once fully implemented, ERPs end up giving insights that require significant time from the leadership to make decisions beyond just process automations.
Even more important would be to drive the change and demand that the team starts adopting it for day-to-day automation. A ready reckoner will be to keep a list of reports you want on a periodic basis from your teams that will mandate them to adopt the system.
Ensure all the business cases are tested- Patch work looks ugly!
We all like the fact that it’s great to start using it quick, don’t we? Imagine situations when 6 months down the line, the process that is not used so frequently starts failing and the system starts failing, consequently impacting the business.
I’ll stress on the need to think through user acceptance scenarios across every facet of your business before you roll out your ERP. And even more importantly, find out areas where you need to interact with external vendors, extract reports and data that may be fed into other systems outside your control.The last thing we want is to lose business because of technology that was supposed to work is now working adversely.
For the team to do ERP Implementation:
Understand the Business Well
A very common mistake from the implementers is the lack of clear understanding of the requirement / end goals of the organization for ERP implementation. Have the end result clear in your mind with respect to what reporting, automation, & insights expected of the automation.
Ensuring apriori discussions with the stakeholders about their requirements in detail, will help ensure you know the expectations. It can get even better if there are experts on the implementation team knowing how the business works; domain knowledge in ERP implementation is one of the most critical to success criteria identified so far. Not having this knowledge from the beginning will more often than not lead to numerous iterations and higher costs.
Adopt Robust Implementation Strategy
As an implementation partner, it would be critical to acknowledge that ERP implementations cannot have trial & errors. The approach you decide & the processes you identify for a go-live can impact an entire business worth millions of dollars.
It will be critical to have the goals, pros, cons, limitations and additional features of your approach addressed and discussed with all the stake holders. Discovering them mid-way during implementation can make the plan go hay-wire.
Further, having a detailed plan is the first step. What follows critically is the execution of the plan that can make or break an organizational success.
Communicate to achieve great results
Another thing that always strikes out when studying failed ERP implementations is communication. Each side, without any wrong intentions, failed to communicate on key decisions. The stakeholders modified processes that the implementation team did not know or the implementation team assumed that the approach and solution provided to the team is right.
Regular meetings with the stake holders across the board is a must. It will be good to have the blueprints of your approach discussed with the stakeholders to ensure there isn’t any gap to be discovered later.
A detailed & clear blueprint of the ERP implementation approach will always work right to keep the management & the implementation team on the same page. It also helps in evaluating & preparing for the pros & cons of the impending situations.
Develop & Test extensively
Development & Testing are sides of the same coin. Development is just the beginning, make sure a thorough testing of ERP is done to provide the best user experience and attain business goals simultaneously. A poorly tested ERP could juxtapose with a good product development.
Once the technical team has completed the development, it should be handed over to SMEs & followed by User Acceptance team to certify the conformance with the business needs.
Lead from the front- Leadership Matters
A team is as good as its leader. Program managers in an ERP implementation have to have a myopic vision of getting the job done – through selection of right resources, communication management and most importantly through risk management. It is the responsibility of the leader to lead by example for the team & make sure that team has a clear & concise understanding of the objectives. A well designed approach is the only way to achieve desired results.