You’re ready to start your ERP software implementation journey with glorious intentions of adding unicorns and rainbows to your efficiency, inter-department communication, and the bottom line. Either you figured out on your own that it isn’t that easy, or you hired someone to assist you with your project. Or you haven’t done either yet and want to learn the top elements of an ERP implementation plan and ‘what not to do.’ No matter where you are on the spectrum, there are several factors you should be aware of—things that your people should know before beginning an ERP implementation.
ERP Implementation Plan Tips
What are the top things that you wish your ERP implementer told you…before beginning your ERP implementation?
1. Going ‘Live’ Doesn’t Mean You’re Done
Going live is step 67 of 124 in the erp implementation process. Those numbers are estimations as every implementation is unique but relatively accurate. Going live doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. ERPs aren’t set-it-and-forget-it solutions; think of them as living organisms. Investment into your ERP after launch is a key to successfully deploying to any organization.
2. Assign Designated Superusers by Area
Testing and launching without an area superuser are like cooking a new recipe without tasting it before serving…it likely won’t end well.
An area superuser is someone designated to become the go-to expert in each area. They will continually connect people, processes, technology and data in their functional area. Contribute to process optimization, troubleshooting, ongoing training, and trickle-down information to ensure their end-users have what they need to meet their day to day workload. The superusers are very important to long-term ERP success and should be identified early in the implementation process.
The superusers tie the functional departments together to help ensure the adoption of your new technology, find the kinks and help end-users prepare for change.
So—who should be your superusers? Ideally, someone with Rockstar communication skills, a multi-tasker, can train others (and people will listen to), have overall leadership skills, can triage the importance of tasks, have at least some technical skills—and also knows the requirements of their area to facilitate efficient changes for the new system. Oh, and they need to be willing to and can collaborate with a team to drive innovation.
Consider your internal posting for superusers, and it will start with “Rockstar needed… .”
Suppose you have folks that fit the bill for your functional areas—incredible. If you don’t, consider bringing in an experienced ERP consultant(s) to augment and train your future superusers.
contact a member of Withum’s ERP Implementation team.
An ERP won’t solve every problem you have. Initially, it may create more problems than it solves—it is an ongoing investment of time and planning post-launch to reach your desired outcomes. Understand that this won’t be a miracle cure, at least not immediately, and that patience is essential (as is planning, execution, and aftercare).
Your ERP can do a lot, but it won’t make the coffee, replace staff, or any other super-human software ability.
4. At Least Something Will Go Not As Planned
Again, ERPs aren’t a magic bullet solution. At least one thing won’t go correctly. Managing risks is vital as you navigate your implementation. Have an ERP implementation plan and contingency plan and a quick response team to deal with unplanned issues. Be bullish on containing scope as you implement your new ERP with plans to push new scope to a subsequent phase once you launch.
5. Launch in Phases
Launching every aspect of your business software at once is a formidable task. Ease the burden by breaking it up into various smaller projects to increase your chance of success. For example, consider a “financials only” deployment for phase one and then follow on with more advanced financials or extended operations in phase two—this will give your team more time to learn the new system and apply their knowledge.
6. Double the Time You Think it Will Take
ERP implementations take time, and one of the most common challenges we see with implementations is squeezing the project based on a perceived date. ERP deployments will impact the organization for years to come – take your time and do it right! Most companies do not consider the post-launch of their deployment timeline. It is at this point that the team is most vulnerable and needs to be supported as they deal with the pressures of their day to day while ironing out the kinks and solving issues that come up post-launch (which always takes time to reach maximum efficiency).
7. Understand It’s All About the People! – Not (Just) Software
ERP is a software solution, of course, but the difficult part of the equation is that it is the people, not the software. The team involved, the training/education, motivation to change the paradigm of “the way we’ve always done it” are at least as important—if not more important—than rolling out the software. Your ERP rollout should have a people focus!
8. Test, Test, Test
Testing your new ERP—before going live—is one of the most critical parts of the process. Test before you go live. Test thoroughly. Also, test after you go live, but test before. The amount of ERP software testing you do before you go live will be in direct correlation to its success and the mitigation of errors.
The eight pearls of wisdom above are things that companies looking to implement an ERP should know beforehand. It’s a people thing, process-driven with technology as an enabler. To be successful, you will need more time than you think, test early and test often – and your people will make all the difference.
If you don’t have an ERP implementation plan and a team in place—and identified superusers—we strongly recommend at least talking with an experienced consultant to learn about planning your implementation and selecting the right team for the job.
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