Are you afraid of becoming disorganized labor when it comes to your ERP implementation? Or worse yet, disorganized implementation.
It's a very valid concern.
So, how do you gear up for the implementation process without becoming disorganized?
According to Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, in her article titled, "13 Common ERP Mistakes and How to Avoid Making Them", there are several key items to address prior to implementation that will keep you from becoming disorganized and confused. Schiff points out the mistakes, but let's take a different view. Let's start from the beginning, so you can avoid some common pitfalls with implementation.
1. Planning. This seems like a no brainer, but often, it becomes a process without brains. Understand your processes and procedures. Evaluate how everything works and the role in the process. This may require a flow chart or two. It will probably be tedious, but worth the effort when it comes time to implement.
2. Vendor Selection. I have previously given some insight regarding demos, and how to choose your ERP software. This could quite possibly be one of the most crucial steps in the process.
3. Understand key features. Understanding ERP Software features and which vendor provides those features, should be already be understood before you invite anyone for an ERP Software demo. This is the part where you get to address those problems that plague your current process, as well as dream a little about what the future could look like.
4. Don't underestimate time and resources. If you have never done this before, this could be the grossest miscalculation of the entire process. Ask your ERP Software vendor estimated hours needed for implementing each process. This is definitely the time to consider what your vendor's implementation strategy consists of, and whether or not you should obtain an outside consultant. Seem expensive....you betcha, but not near as expensive as not giving yourself enough time or manpower to finish the job.
5. Choose your team wisely. I cannot emphasize this enough. There are power users in every department, and usually someone that know the processes backwards and forwards. Just don't be surprised if it isn't the department head. Also, make sure that every department is represented. Don't think just because you remembered to invite Accounting, that they are going to completely understand the purchasing side of the business.
6. Set your priorities. Determine which processes need immediate attention and decided which processes will follow. So, what are the base procedures and processes that have to be functioning, and which processes will piggy back on those. Focus on the base procedures first, otherwise the implementation team will exhaust themselves trying to focus on everything all at once.
7. Training. Make sure you have an adequate training schedule, and everyone get's the information they need about the new system. If employee's understand the new system and have had time to practice and get familiar with it, then there will be fewer headaches when you get to the other side. There are companies out there (like Godlan) that have teams of trainers & consultants that will come in to give you and your staff lots of attention - making transitioning a little less painful.
8. Data. Ever heard "Garbage in, Garbage out"? It's true. Setting up the system with accurate parameters, and information is imperative. Don't take this step lightly, and don't bypass a process and say that you will figure it out later. When later comes, it will be a major headache.
9. Understanding why you have an ERP system. Don't assume that ERP Software will encompass every moving part of your business. Focus on the purpose of the software. Look at what the software can do and what your current processes are. This is somehting that should be done during the initial selection process. Don't assume that every business process and procedure is going to fit.
10. Put the old applications out of their misery. When implementing new software you want to have a "pull the plug" date on your old software. This is another reason why implementing with correct data is important. Remember the reasons why you are upgrading. Do not slow down progress and simplifying workflow by hanging on to your old applications.
11. Testing. Do not naively think that you will be able test with a handful of power users. Testing has to mirror the whole process, complete with all your users.
12. Support. Check your vendor's support policies and provisions before you sign on the dotted line. You don't want to enter into shock-and-awe because the actual amount of support required for implementation was an after thought.
13. Maintenance. Don't get cheap now. You will want the software updates. These updates not only continue to improve the usability of the software, but often times they incorporate legal changes that could affect your business. Systems like SyteLine ERP can store customizations as metadata and automatically pull those forward in version upgrades - saving you time and money, so never be afraid of upgrades again!