Purchasing an Enterprise Resource Planning system is kind of like purchasing a magic wand. If you buy it and just try to use it without knowing how it works, the results could be disastrous and long-lasting. You need to get to know a wand's powers; learn how to speak its language so you can cast controlled, beneficial spells. It's the same with an ERP system. With dedicated time and effort, both objects can work wonders in their respective realms. Sadly, effective ancient spells are hard to come by. On the other hand, ERP implementations are usually accompanied by entire teams of people who share a common goal of long-term, evolving success. Our final three posts in this ERP series will be dedicated to areas you should thoroughly consider in order to make sure your ERP implementation magic is as potent as possible.
In our first installment, you’ll learn the importance of an executive sponsor, a strong leader, clear objectives, a sufficient budget, and the necessary resources to make your team run smoothly. An ERP project team is unique in that most of the members should actually come from the user community. These people are going to use the system day in and day out, and they are the ones who are really invested in making good things happen.
Additionally, we'll discuss the importance of having a plan and maintaining consistent communication between team members. Frequently reviewing and updating the plan, as well as conveying the team's progress and wins, are simple but essential steps to ensuring a successful system implementation. Having all your ducks in a row early will really pay off when it’s time to go live. Before that, however, you’ll need to decide who to partner with to get your business ready.
Choose the right software, but also choose the right implementation partner. Easier said than done, right? In the second post, we'll examine these four critical qualities to look for in your outside team:
- Honesty: The partner’s estimates should be realistic, and they should also prove to you that they sincerely understand the issues at stake in your industry.
- Quality: During the implementation period, your consultants will be second only to your own employees in terms of importance. Be sure that the consultants you meet are the ones who will be assigned to your project.
- References: The names of the companies on your candidate list should resemble yours in size and complexity. Also, ask for references for the consultants themselves; not just for the company they work for.
- Focus: Look for a potential implementation partner whose business is just right. Too small, and it may not have enough experience (or experience in your industry). Too big, and it may not prioritize your implementation in comparison with larger businesses.
The search for the partner with the focus that matches your own isn’t always easy. Still, it's vital to appraise your candidates thoroughly so you choose a partner who’s on the same page. An ERP system will touch your entire business, from your clients to your bottom line. Don’t overlook the essential role your implementation partner plays in achieving your success.
Going live. This is what you've been planning for, and it's where the proverbial rubber meets the road. From here on out, you'll use your new system every day to manage and excel at your business. Figure out ahead of time which approach to this process best suits your company so that you can make your system’s first steps smooth and confident. You have three basic options, which we'll dig into more in our final post in this series.
- The “Big Bang” is the all-at-once transition, and it can be good and bad all at the same time. Good because it’s quick and clean; bad because potential errors in data conversion and other obstacles have to be overcome with no delay under unforgiving circumstances.
- The phased roll-out transition also has pros and cons. On the plus side, going live in steps mitigates some of the risk. However, users can become confused by using pieces of two systems - old and new - simultaneously until everything is unified in the new location.
- The parallel transition method is the least recommended. In this approach, both systems are active at once for a specified duration, so it has almost no risk. Nevertheless, it requires users to duplicate their work until the legacy system is phased out. Parallel transition can be confusing for users and prone to bad data entry, which requires significant rework and leads to initial frustration - which nobody needs during a go-live event.
You know your needs better than anyone else, and it’ll be up to you to make an informed decision about the go-live...and your implementation partner...and your project team. Your Trusted Advisor can help you sort through your options. If you want to learn more about your ERP implementation options, give us a call. And don't forget to subscribe to this blog so you don't miss our future musings on business technology.