Implementing an ERP system is one of the most important, expensive and complex tasks your company may perform. While it would naive to assume all will go perfectly according to plan, many common mistakes can be avoided.
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Here are the Five Biggest ERP Implementation Faux Pas’:
Poor Planning -
It’s true. Proper planning prevents poor performance. The most robust way to plan well is to create a Business Process Model. A BPM will not only guarantee that the enterprise application will fit the different functions within a business, but also will help define the ways in which these functions are performed. Detailing the work flow of each department and how they work together enables a company to determine specific requirements for the new system and helps to design processes and templates that fit the business much more closely than an out-of-the-box software option.
Your vendor can help create your BPM by helping your company ask and answer the right questions such as:
Once these and other key questions are answered and documented, a wish list / needs analysis can be created for the new software.
Wrong Vendor -
Make sure implementation is not an “afterthought” for your ERP vendor, who should be able to provide benchmark data from other organizations that they have worked with of similar size. As mentioned above, they should also be concerned, not just with software functionality and process, but business needs that extend to non-software activities such as business process models and planning, organizational change management, and successful training.
The best way to avoid a bad vendor is to ask for a few references. Be sure the solution provider takes the time to get to know your business and gets a complete picture of how your business works and what needs must be met with the new ERP system.
And finally, beware of price guarantees. Fixed costs are not the industry standard for good reason. Implementation is never 100% predictable and even a fixed-price contract rarely, if ever, guarantees a true cap on cost.
Wrong Software -
If you do not yet know what’s possible in terms of today’s ERP software functionality, spend time with knowledge acquisition. This includes dedicating a key team to research, read articles and talk with other businesses using ERP. Talking with vendors will also help educate the core team about software functionality, reporting and customization options. This step cannot be skipped and should not be completely delegated to an outside consultant. A successful implementation will be done in true partnership with your ERP provider.
Common features of ERP software include functionality for: Inventory, distribution/warehousing, supply chain management, customer relationship management, business intelligence, purchasing/procurement, service management, HR and finance.
Companies can purchase these functions in suites and sometimes ERP systems and suites are designed for specific industries, such as manufacturing or construction. The vendor is key in helping the firm understand out of the box functionalities and customization capabilities.
It’s important to also consider hosting options when buying software. It can be hosted on premises, run through a vendor server or placed in the cloud. Vendor partners can help choose the ideal hardware and infrastructure for your business.
Incomplete Training -
The one thing that cannot be skimped on is training for back office and operations employees on the new ERP system. When you have an integrated business system, it is vital that everyone is comfortable and efficient with all of the new processes involved, in order to get your best results from the improved functionality.
Many opportunities for hands-on experience must be given so that employees are not overwhelmed on the go live day. More thorough training will also help your employees feel confident in the decision to switch to the new system, once they can gain familiarity with it and understand how it will benefit them and the business.
To get the best results from all of the hard work you have already put into the implementation — planning, overcoming everyone’s fears, and making sure your data is properly prepared — you want to ensure that everyone using the system is comfortable and confident in its use.
Bad Data -
Clean up the data before it is converted over to the new system. Do an internal audit to review records for correct entries on customers, vendors and accounts. Update information, eliminate duplicates and generally clean up bad entries. The process of scouring data is time consuming, but worth doing up front.
Not only is it important for the data to be complete and accurate, but also formatted properly before extraction and conversion. Getting this right at the start of ERP implementation, means the new system will be ready to use immediately. When it comes to working with data, your vendor’s expertise will be invaluable.
If you are looking for an ERP vendor, please consider contacting Parallel Solutions at (440) 498-9920. Our team will implement, train and support your company every step of the way.
Our experienced staff can help assess your software needs for Accounting, Distribution and Manufacturing. We offer multiple ERP solutions as well as software for Warehouse Management, Time Collection, EDI Processing and Forecasting. Being a full service solutions provider offers you peace of mind, knowing that every aspect of your investment will meet your expectations.
Mary Jo O'Neill