5 Keys to Winning ERP Project Support
The reports needed for month-end closing take a really long time to generate and need to be run after hours to avoid crashes. MS Excel is used for your annual budget, but after the exercise of preparing a budget no one looks at the budget until it needs to be done again the next year. Customers are frustrated because they can’t get the same answer from multiple employees, or they are passed from person to person when they have more than one question. Employees are not as productive as they could be and feeling the stress of it all.
If that’s not enough, your older ERP system is running on older, outdated technologies, technologies that were selected based on old business requirements and goals and the limitations of available technologies of that time period. What does this translate to? Often it translates to using an ERP system that is keeping your business from reaching goals, such as goals for growth. Older ERP systems are known for disparate data, inefficiencies, being sluggish, hard to maintain and support, expensive to maintain and support; basically outdated ERP keeps you from being as competitive as you could be.
Upgrading an ERP system can seem like a daunting task. Today’s ERP systems are tasked to meet a wider range of goals than in the earlier years of ERP where the primary requirement was most often to automate processes. With a digital transformation, it’s about trying to establish fewer platforms across the business to increase overall productivity, customer satisfaction, and more.
New choices for technology, vendors, features. More complex than previous generations, leading to C-level executives pulling IT into the process because IT understands systems and databases. ERP decisions are no longer primarily driven by the CEO and CFO, today it’s a broader decision which typically includes input from the CIO, IT and department managers to assure the system meets the needs of the organization as a whole. How do you go about winning support for an ERP upgrade? Here are some tips to get you started.
5 Keys to Winning ERP Project Support
1. Involve Employees Early in the Process
Once you have budget approval, reach out to departmental managers to get feedback on what is and is not working for them with the current ERP system. Departmental managers have a different viewpoint than the executive team and can work with their staff to identify a detailed list of what is and is not working with your current ERP system and offer suggestions for improvements. Input from multiple functional areas will help you better identify business requirements and what it will take to meet your business goals and objectives.
- Are business processes slow, or keeping employees from getting their jobs done?
- Do reports have to be run after hours to keep the server from crashing?
- Are staff reliant on others to get their job done?
- Are customers being passed to multiple people for their inquiries.
- Are data inaccuracies a problem?
- Are sales able to provide accurate quotes with accurate delivery dates, or is it a guessing game?
- Where are the bottlenecks?
Employee involvement will be helpful in getting employee to embrace the forthcoming changes. The lists created by departmental managers will help management and your future ERP consultant better understand your current challenges and the positive impact that a new ERP system will have on your business.
2. Sell Employees on the Benefits of Change
Besides understanding how the new system will benefit the company, employees must also understand how the new ERP system will benefit them personally.
- Will time-consuming manual processes be replaced with automation?
- Will an employee be less reliant on others to get their job done?
- Will they be able to go home on time?
- Will steps be eliminated so they can be more efficient?
- Will they be able to access information remotely if needed?
Technology has advanced tremendously in the recent years, especially the last decade. If you work with a well-established vendor, like Epicor, that has spent decades adding feature-rich functionality to their integrated ERP solutions, you will be able to flip the negative experiences of the current system into positives with the new ERP system as today’s ERP is quite different from older versions.
3. Continue Employee Communications
Don’t close the doors of communication after the initial needs list is created. Continue to communicate with employees to keep them informed. Employee involvement creates a personal interest in the overall success of the project, so provide periodic status updates and don’t hesitate to ask for additional input. The more information you can provide to your ERP consultant about what works and what doesn’t work the less time the consultant will have to spend on that phase of your ERP project.
4. Assure Employees with Special Expertise
Employees with special expertise may feel especially vulnerable with the changes as they may think that they will be impacted the most, or won’t be needed after the new system is implemented. Assure employees with special expertise that this is a period for growth for both them and your organization and they’ll have an opportunity to learn a new system and gain new, more marketable skills.
5. Offer Professional ERP Software Training
Communicating with employees while identifying a new ERP system is important in gaining their understanding of the goals of the project and how everyone will benefit in the long run, but also important is making sure everyone knows and is comfortable with how to use the new system. Offering professional ERP training, preferably on your own company data, is the final step in gaining the efficiencies and biggest Return on Investment (ROI) from your new ERP system.
After initial ERP training, annual, follow-up training should be budgeted for. Whereas many think that once they are up and running on their new ERP system that additional training is not necessary, most forget to consider their need to train new employees as a result of employee turnover. Yes, you can rely on on existing employees to train your new employee, but that’s not the optimal solution because with time everyone develops some level of bad habits, short-cuts and other inefficiencies. Do you want your new employees to start with a set of bad habits, or do you want them to learn how to use the system that way it was intended to be used for the greatest ROI?
Today’s forward-thinking business leaders are investing in technology and modern ERP solutions because they recognize the impact that ERP has on their core business, from day-to-day operations, to management decisions, to how supply chains and customers are engaged. Yes, older ERP technologies can keep your business at status quo, but status quo is not enough to keep your business moving forward and as competitive as it could be in today’s global marketplace.
The balance between evolving technologies and business needs tends to be somewhat of a dance. You need to keep your ERP up to date enough to avoid being left behind, while managing the cost-benefit balance and looking to get the biggest ROI from your ERP investment. The timing is everything – to stay competitive you need to resist the comfort of status quo. Want to learn more? Contact MIS.
Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter or to register for a webinar, or subscribe to our YouTube channel for more insights and product demo’s.
Related MIS ERP Blogs:
Outdated ERP System? How Bad do you Look from the Outside?
How ERP Helps Businesses Become More Customer Centric
How to Select the Best ERP Consultant for Your Business
ERP Selection: 8 Considerations for ERP Selection
ERP Selection: 9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your Solution Faster