24 Jun 2015

Top 10 ERP Implementation Strategies

You’ve done the hard part and chosen your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform. Now it’s time to implement. The smartest strategies for getting your ERP up and running allow you to facilitate a more effective and successful changeover.

Don’t make the mistake of failing to properly handle data migration, system implementation and user training. It’s not worth the risk. No one wants to struggle, and everyone should enjoy the benefits a system that provides streamlined workflow and a feature-rich working environment.

The right implementation strategy will ensure that you are better prepared, able to maintain focus on the original scope of your project and guarantee that your staff is properly trained and prepared.

ERP Implementation Strategy #1: Clearly Define Requirements Before Taking Action

The scope of your project can be a critical concern. Businesses that fail to keep tight focus on specific processes and system requirements will find that ERP implementation may require additional time and costs. A well-defined scope will ensure your project does not grow out of hand.

ERP Implementation Strategy #2: Evaluate Your Options

Poorly handled and mismanaged evaluation efforts create serious issues during every step of the implementation process. Vague requirements may lead businesses to choose the wrong vendor, handle data migration poorly or result in delayed completion. Prepare yourself properly, obtain input from users and team leads and a carefully evaluate both your legacy systems and planned ERP implementation before making any big decisions.

ERP Implementation Strategy #3: Document User Procedures

Proper documentation can be essential for understanding how users interacted with legacy systems, evaluating and improving workflow and providing users with the concise instructions needed to navigate a new feature-rich working environment. Create and maintain documents detailing key user procedures and routines, both before and during ERP implementation.

ERP Implementation Strategy Tip #4: Single-Step Implementation

This model of implementation requires all users to migrate to the new system at once. Ideal for smaller operations and businesses that may have few users, single-step ERP implementation offers a simple and straightforward way to handle the process so you can more easily focus on your project scope and implementation parameters. But it’s not for everyone.

ERP Implementation Strategy Tip #5: Phased Rollout

Changing to a new system incrementally over an extended period of time can allow for early implementation of key features, and ensures that any issues or complications are isolated from working processes that have already been brought online. While more flexible than a single-step approach, this strategy may entail a lengthier process, especially for businesses that keep changing the parameters of an implementation project.

ERP Implementation Strategy Tip #6: Parallel Adoption

This strategy involves both new ERP and legacy systems operating simultaneously. Ideal for businesses and organizations that have concerns regarding the effective training and education of users, parallel adoption allows users to learn how to navigate the new system while retaining access to a familiar and established working environment.

ERP Implementation Strategy #7: Consider Customization Options Carefully

You should consider the amount of customization required to configure and implement a new ERP system. Systems that have been heavily customized often lead to higher deployment and operational costs. Many of the most basic business processes are the same for the vast majority of companies, and you should always evaluate the need for customization carefully, making sure to weigh it against potential costs.

ERP Implementation Strategy #8: Choose the Right Project Leader

Designate an internal project or team lead to spearhead your implementation efforts. A vendor-selected project manager can be a terrific asset, but it’s an inside partner who gets what’s really going on, with a complete understanding of your working process or the needs of your staff. Select a team lead with experience managing software systems and task him or her with assessing all end-user requirements as well as fully learning the new system. An internal project lead is an invaluable resource for handling many aspects of data migration and staff training.

ERP Implementation Strategy #9: Don’t Forget Mobile Users

Limiting access to ERP systems to desktop working environments would be a major liability. The growing popularity and sophistication of mobile devices should not be overlooked when it comes to your ERP implementation strategy. A recent Nielsen study found that mobile has now surpassed desktop usage of the Internet. With that in mind, it’s important to roll out a mobile ERP strategy that allows users to stay productive when using smartphones and tablets, and will not create additional security issues.

ERP Implementation Strategy #10: Allocate Sufficient Time and Resources for Training

Learning and mastering a new way of operating can often require a considerable investment of time and effort. Provide your staff with the time needed to get acquainted with the new ERP system and ensure they have access to ample training resources and opportunities during migration and rollout, and in an ongoing capacity.