Conquer Your ERP Implementation

9 Rules to Help You Conquer Your ERP Implementation

by jdelozier

9 Rules to Help You Conquer Your ERP Implementation

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation ranks right up there with the largest, most complex and critical undertakings an organization can go through. The right ERP solution is pivotal to a business’ ongoing success, but the implementation process is as critical as the ERP itself. Drawing from our experience with countless successful implementation projects, we have developed nine proven rules for how to have a smooth ERP implementation.

  1. Build a solid internal team. This first key rule is critical for a successful ERP implementation. The internal team needs to be a cross-functional and include subject matter experts (SMEs) from each of your organization’s core departments including Finance, Engineering, Operations, Supply Chain Management, Quality, Sales, and any others that would apply to your business. These individuals should be well-respected and possess deep organizational knowledge. They must also be prepared to dedicate up to 50% of their time to the implementation project from kick-off to launch.
  2. Appoint a project champion. This person will serve as both the project lead and the liaison with the implementation team. It is critical that the project champion command respect from everyone on the core team and throughout the entire organization. This person must also have deep organization knowledge and experience managing complex projects and running productive and effective meetings. The project champion should be prepared to focus 100% of his or her time on the implementation process from start to finish, as well as be the point person for future ERP questions and troubleshooting. Ultimately, this person will become the owner of the project and hold ultimate responsibility for the ERP implementation.
  3. Establish realistic expectations. A successful ERP implementation takes time and money. The internal team and ERP partner must have a shared, realistic understanding of the time and resources that will be required for a successful implementation. They should be able to defend these resource expenditures and overcome objections should they be faced with them.
  4. Choose wisely. We can’t stress this enough. Please take great care when choosing your ERP implementation partner. Ask them for references from other companies in your industry for whom they have completed ERP implementations. If they can’t provide you with at least three, you should be looking for another ERP partner. Contact those references and ask them about their level of satisfaction with every phase of the implementation process, as well as the ongoing relationship once the implementation was completed. Your relationship with your ERP partner should not end once the implementation is complete. Ongoing reliable support is a critical part of an ERP partnership.
  5. Analyze your current situation. As part of your implementation process, a thorough analysis of the existing ERP (if one exists) should be conducted to create an accurate needs assessment. As part of this process, the team should map every singlebusiness process of the organization and identify key success criteria in advance. This helps establish that unified understanding of expectations discussed in rule number three above.
  6. Establish a data migration plan. Your implementation partner should have a detailed data migration plan and provide upload templates to assist your organization with inputting data into the new ERP.
  7.  Establish a strong overall project plan. Again, your implementation partner should develop and provide a detailed implementation plan for your organization to follow. Having experience conducting literally hundreds of implementations (ideally), your partner will have time tested and proven implementation plans that your organization can adopt with confidence.
  8. Ensure proper scope and/or change management practices are in place. While the scope of your ERP implementation should be documented and agreed upon prior to project initiation, it is inevitable that the scope of the project will be challenged or even change during the implementation process. This may happen incrementally, but over time can add up to a large amount of time, money, or both. Whenever something that is out of scope is added to the project, it is important to have a scope change document completed and agreed upon to keep the project plan current, accurate, and moving forward. Some scope changes can have an impact on timing and budget, so it is important to document these changes without fail in a timely manner.
  9. Secure a solid commitment from your organization to use the new system and embrace the change it brings. This commitment must be driven from the very top of the organization and is one of the most important factors of a successful ERP implementation project. Executive sponsorship and project support are critical to getting an organization to embrace the massive changes that a new ERP brings.

The success of your ERP implementation depends on many factors working together. The process can be daunting at first, but it does not need to stay that way. With these rules in place, your organization will be positioned for a successful implementation process and a longstanding, positive relationship with your ERP implementation partner.

Do you have other tips for a better ERP implementation process?

Share your experience with us in the comments!

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