You know it’s time to bring an ERP to your business, but where do you start? This is a very common question, but there are a few relatively simple steps you can take to make your project a success from the get-go.
Here’s our advice on how to successfully implement an ERP within your company.
Why you need a strategy – common ERP implementation problems
The reality is that anywhere between 55% and 75% of ERP implementations fail. Why? There are numerous reasons but the common culprits are:
- Poor communication
- Lack of planning
- Unclear goals
- Human error
- Failed collaboration
The goal, then, is to avoid mistakes like these when it comes to implementing your own ERP. Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience with ERP, either. It’s less intimidating than it sounds.
How to implement your ERP
Once you’ve decided that you want to adopt ERP, you’re left with two major questions:
- How do you choose the right ERP solution?
- How do you implement it?
The good news is that ERP implementation isn’t as overwhelming as it seems at first glance. Here’s what you can do to make everything go smoothly. It’s all about breaking the process into manageable steps.
Identify what you need from an ERP
To set your ERP up for success, you must first understand what you’re looking for. There’s no point in implementing an ERP if it’s not going to deliver the right tools for your commercial needs. Decide:
- What your objectives are
- What problems or challenges your business faces
- Your long-term goals
Set and adhere to a budget
According to Panorama, roughly 64% of ERP projects go over budget.
That’s why it’s so important to know what you’re looking for from your ERP and compare this against what you can realistically afford to spend on the project.
How do you figure out the budget? Well, statistics show that 1% of your company’s gross annual revenue is a useful starting point, but you must also consider hidden costs such as training fees and hardware upgrades.
Do your research
Don’t just sign up for the first ERP platform you find. Here are some research tips to help you identify a great solution for your business:
- Shop around and talk to different providers
- Ask IT service providers for advice
- Test or demo a platform before you commit to a contract
You don’t want to end up in a position where you sign up for an ERP solution that can’t handle the specific tasks you plan on using it for.
“Roughly 64% of ERP projects go over budget.” -Panorama
Check your infrastructure
It’s crucial that your chosen ERP is scalable. It should support business growth, not hinder it. First, set up an ERP team within your IT department, or seek help from managed IT professionals.
Then, decide on the infrastructure that suits your business. You may elect to have the ERP entirely onsite, in which case you’ll need the right hardware, software licenses, and a dedicated server room. More commonly, businesses choose to work on a SaaS model, meaning a network of remote servers that provide the ERP services from the cloud.
The SaaS model reduces operational costs, but it also makes it easier to scale and change your platform to suit the business. It lets you keep up with evolving security demands and emerging technology as well.
Plan for data migration
Data migration is extremely important. You’re effectively shifting your business over to the ERP. Needless to say, then, data migration is central to a successful ERP implementation, and it’s vital that only the highest quality and most important data is transferred to the ERP software.
Assign an analyst to handle the migration, or employ IT specialists with experience in ERP data migration. It’s important to strike a balance between moving over too much data and over-taxing the software, which may result in downtime, and moving over too little data so that the ERP doesn’t deliver the right services.
Customize the platform
Once you’re clear on infrastructure and your data has been moved over to the ERP, it’s time to decide if you’ll customize your software.
Often, ERP solutions are designed to suit a specific industry, and so, there’s not always a need for customization. It’s often unnecessary to customize the software once employees are familiar with how to use the default settings to their fullest potential.
You can always start with the standard software and customize the software down the road if necessary. This avoids unnecessary costs and IT burdens upfront.
It’s all well and good implementing an ERP but it doesn’t mean much if no one knows how to use it. Chances are, personnel will have many questions and the platform will take time getting used to.
Schedule training sessions tailored to suit different departments. Assign a team, or at least a point of contact, to answer questions as and when they arise. Make sure staff knows that they’re supported and that they’re free to raise any issues they have.
This is the perfect time to reinforce a company-wide message covering what’s so great about the ERP and how it’ll make everyone’s lives easier.
Perform ERP testing
Launch day is the test of any ERP implementation. To make sure things go smoothly, it’s a good idea to test the software before it rolls out across the entire company. Here are some tips for the weeks prior to launch day:
- Test the dashboards, the templates, interface compatibility, and the network.
- Check that the backup system works and establish how long the backup process takes.
- Decide what access rights different users will have and set this up.
- Identify what additional training is required and follow up on any problems that you’re already aware of from the initial training.
Have a contingency plan
For all your planning, there’s still a chance that something minor will go wrong or that some employees will take a while to adjust to the new system. Perhaps implement your ERP in phases to give personnel time to adjust, and make sure there’s a manager or IT contact in place to deal with teething problems.
ERP solutions typically fail because companies ignore one or more of these steps. By carefully choosing the right ERP solution for your commercial needs, and following a clear, defined implementation plan, your business will reap the benefits of enterprise resource planning for many years to come.
ERP implementation doesn’t have to be stressful. Contact us today to find out more about our services or ERP strategies.