ERP Implementation Success – 10 Tips
Within the hands of the ERP Project Manager and the CIO’s, CTO’s and CFO’s in charge, is the success of your ERP implementation project, as this is the team that ultimately drives the implementation process. Advice to the above: Choose your team of experts wisely, bring on board a team you can trust, and manage the process. The reward: A good chance that you will beat the grim statistics and walk away smiling because your ERP project was indeed a success.
If a successful implementation is as simple as identifying the right solution with the right team of experts, then why does Gartner, a leading research firm say that as many as 75% of ERP implementations fail? Maybe because failure is a perception, and perception is that person’s reality.
If expectations were set incorrectly, or if the appropriate internal or external resources were not identified, or if there were unanticipated changes to the scope of the project resulting in price creep, is that a failed project? Is it a failed project when assumptions were made around product features or functionality that were never part of the base, out of the box solution in the first place? No, these should not be considered failed ERP projects, but the reality is that these and many other reasons come to mind when ERP implementations are perceived as failures. Think about it.
So, perception is reality, but what is really the reality here? According to a CIO article, “ERP Training Stinks”, most experts agree that ERP implementation failures are not systemic. “Very rarely are there instances when it’s the ERP system itself—the actual software—that fails,” says Jim Shepherd, senior vice president of research at Boston-based AMR Research.” So, how can we avoid some of the common mistakes that are later considered ERP failures? Start by setting aside our emotions and using the opportunity to learn from other’s experiences so we can make better, more educated decisions and manage the implementation correctly.
MIS has a dedicated consultant that spends his time rescuing challenged implementations, so it’s not uncommon.
– Kendra Kalimanis, President MIS
There is no denying that some ERP projects are better managed than others, in fact “MIS has a dedicated consultant that spends his time rescuing challenged implementations, so it’s not uncommon” according to Kendra Kalimanis, President of MIS Consulting & Sales and MIS Solutions Canada. Rather than using a rescue team, below are 10 tips to help keep your ERP project on track and within budget from the beginning:
Build a Team of Experts You Trust with your ERP Implementation
Gartner’s research found that one third of IT decision makers did not trust their reseller or vendor due to a lack of communication or transparency. Choose not only the ERP system that you think will best meet your needs, but also one that offers support from a reseller or vendor that you can have a trusting partnership with. If you can’t trust who you are working with then spend the time to find someone that you can. Larger resellers have multple consultants so don’t be shy. If someone isn’t doing their job, replace them.
Identify Vendors or Resellers with Industry Expertise for your ERP Implementation
Identify vendors for your ERP implementation that have a strong customer base in your industry. For example, if you are a manufacturer, find a vendor that has expertise in manufacturing as these vendors and their resellers will typically be more experienced with your industry and its requirements. If a vendor has a lot of customers in a particular industry, they may also invest in adding industry specific features or integrations to their solutions. Finding a solution that meets most of your requirements out of the box will help keep your costs down because once you start adding customizations, the scope of your project will increase as does the time and expense to implement your solution.
Hire an Experienced ERP Project Manager for your ERP Implementation
“Experienced ERP” is the key here. An experienced ERP implementation partner will provide better time and cost estimates than a consultant that lacks ERP expertise. An experienced ERP Project Manager is also better at keeping the team focused and at identifying obstacles sooner rather than later, keeping your ERP implementation project on task.
Manage Change: Make Sure Everyone is on Board with Your ERP Project
Managing change and making sure everyone is on board is known as ‘change management’. Change management is a hot topic these days. After all, whom have you met that truly likes change? However necessary, change takes us out of our comfort zones. Make sure that those that will be impacted by the new ERP system understand the goals and benefits behind the project and the need to change. Getting users involved and to understand the reasons behind the project should lessen resistance to change. The ERP implementation process has evolved. Back in the early days of ERP implementations, MIS would build a PR plan which would be executed over the life of the project.
Have a Well Thought Out, Detailed Project Plan for your ERP Implementation
If you followed the steps outlined in ‘9 steps to identifying your EPR shortlist’ then you were in control of your selection process and had a good basis to compare ERP solutions. Having followed the 9 steps, you should also have the necessary detail for your project manager to develop an accurate project plan; an accurate plan should result in a fairly accurate estimate of the project scope and costs, including customizations. But be forewarned. There is a fine line between having a good detailed project plan and getting bogged down in layers upon layers of planning documents. Use what is appropriate for your project.
Keep the ERP System as Standard as Possible
ERP vendors have invested a lot of time and research in providing a solution that typically meets 70%-80% of a customer’s requirements out of the box. A new ERP system, full of bells and whistles and seemingly endless possibilities can get one excited, but try to build a solution that incorporates the standard, out of the box features as much as possible.
Use Reasonable Estimates for Your ERP Implementation Budget
There’s no point in low-balling the time or costs involved with a project because eventually low estimates will catch up with you. Instead, base your ERP implementation project off of reasonable estimates. If customizations involving coding are required, accurate estimates of coding time should be part of your plan as well as time to test the new code. Coding is not only a big part of your overall project costs, but can also quickly add time and expense to your project.
Do Your Homework Before the ERP Implementation Consultant Arrives
Once your project is launched, don’t wait for your ERP implementation consultant to arrive before doing your part. Do your homework before the consultant arrives so that the consultant can continue to move forward with his tasks without unnecessary project delays. ERP implementation projects are huge undertakings and a series of delays can quickly push out your completion date.
Continually Measure the Progress of Your ERP Implementation
Throughout your ERP implementation, progress should be measured against the initial estimates that your ERP implementation partner provided. Closely tracking progress enables setbacks to be identified sooner rather than later so adjustments can be made. Additionally, it’s far less expensive to fix a problem sooner rather than later.
Provide Training… and Continuous Training After Your ERP Implementation is Complete
“Avoid the number one mistake organizations make with regards to implementing an ERP system and make training a priority from the beginning of the implementation project” says Learning Solutions Magazine. Independent UK researcher Vanson Bourne found that 37% of companies found it difficult for staff to adapt to the new business processes. Your company has invested a lot of time and money in your new ERP system. Make sure that adequate training as well as follow up training is provided for those impacted by the change. ERP best practices suggests annual ERP training to review business processes and correct bad habits and train newer employees as employee turnover is inevitable.
If you would like more information on this subject or have questions about identifying a ERP solution for your business, please contact us.
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Learning Solutions Magazine: http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/803/five-tips-for-a-successful-enterprise-resource-planning-erp-training-program
Vanson Bourne: http://www.vansonbourne.com