4 Planning Tips: Preparing for Enterprise Resource Planning Implementation
Planning for an ERP system deployment is a collaboration between the business and the vendor, so it is unrealistic to expect to pick a vendor and sit back while they do all the work. You are not just installing new software, you are completely revamping every functional area’s core operational process. This will improve your end-to-end processes leading to greater operational efficiency and reducing costs and errors if proper steps are taken beforehand. ERP implementation must incorporate good planning, training, and more.
With a thorough planning process, training, collaboration and buy-in, businesses can minimize risk, avoid common problems, and reap the full range of operational and financial benefits inherent in an ERP system.
Involve upper management in ERP implementation planning
A new ERP system is a significant investment in time, money and resources. Not only are you paying for software and implementation, but you are completely overhauling your system processes. This requires major commitment throughout the business, it is not just another IT project. ERP implementation is a period of major change that needs attention, understanding, training, and buy-in in all departments and at all levels.
Before an ERP vendor is chosen, any software is installed, or any training takes place, there are several critical decisions to be made. Most organizations try to plow through the planning process as fast as possible, but an extra week or two of planning can be the difference between smooth implementation and one that is hampered by avoidable mistakes. Upper management needs to have a hand in all stages of preparation and planning to avoid obvious mistakes.
Establish an internal project team
Appoint managers at the Executive, Project, IT and User team levels that have the influence and authority to get the rest of the company to buy-in. They should coordinate with the vendor to provide guidance at all levels. Every implementation is different, so your team will need to be able to adjust readily to meet specific needs. Your unique business has its own contours, differing market conditions, and existing business practices giving shape to the task ahead. Every section of the business will have unique needs and issues to be addressed.
Establish metrics to gauge ROI
ERP solutions are meant to enhance and streamline key processes, resulting in greater efficiency, lower costs, decreased cross-department errors, etc. Critical KPIs need to be defined before implementation and all stakeholders should know exactly what the expectations for the project are to ensure everything is proceeding with the optimal end-state in mind.
Make ERP implementation a focus of the whole business
Businesses should avoid taking on any other major projects until the new system is completely operational. If a large project is already in process, it’s best to delay implementation until it has been delivered. There is a learning curve involved in any new system, and employees who are tied up with other duties are more prone to making avoidable mistakes. That is why at TMC, we take pride in a complete (e.g. Dynamics 365) training in order to empower every employee. A Dynamics 365 implementation is no where when the employees themselves do not know the software, so we stress to do a complete Dynamics 365 training. Additionally, not having sufficient human resources directed toward the day-to-day of implementation can cause the project to take much longer than planned for, delaying other major projects. Employees need to be able to engage with the new system as soon as possible without distraction.