A Guide To Successful ERP Implementation

Published August 10, 2020
cloud hosted erp systems for small medium businesses

Choosing the right ERP system for your organization is a major decision and requires considerable thought and planning. The process requires significant investment because companies want to make sure that every step of the implementation process—from choosing your vendor to the post-execution analysis—is flawless.

No two ERP software implementations are identical. The size, structural, and infrastructure needs of every business differ, which is a significant reason why you should always look for a vendor that offers customized solutions rather than cookie-cutter plans.

There are six stages of each software implementation plan—and while the components of those stages may differ depending on the organization, the stages themselves remain the same.

Each stage has distinct and achievable objectives with a realistic timeline to ensure your ERP implementation process is successful, effective, and sustainable in the long run.

Let’s go over each stage.

1. Discovery and Planning

Core Objective: Set the Scope and Direction of the Project

Time Requirements: 3–6 Months

During the first stage of the implementation process, you will need to assemble an in-house team. This team will coordinate closely with your ERP and hosting solution provider and monitor day-to-day operations related to the project.

Your team should include members of the steering committee, consultants, project managers, and key end-users. The collective input from all of these categories will improve the chances of effective decision-making.

Once the team is assembled, you’ll need to carry out an assessment of workflow processes to identify inefficiencies. This will help you determine what software functionalities you need, and, in turn, you’ll be able to choose the right ERP software.

With this information, your vendor will be able to guide you better and will help set expectations for an ERP package that meets your needs and falls within your budget.

2. Design

Core Objective: Assign Resources and Outline an Itemized Agenda

Time Requirements: 2–3 Months

Once you’ve determined which ERP solution will meet the needs of your organization best, it’s time to move on to system configurations and the desired level of customization.

At this stage, you’ll also have to determine user roles and permissions to prevent access and data security issues later down the line. For example, warehouse personnel should not have access to payroll functionalities or personnel records.

The way to execute this is by documenting workflow procedures for each user role and determining what system requirements each role needs.

As the details of the project become more concrete, you’ll be able to design an agenda with target completion dates, key action items, and budgetary constraints.

3. Development

Core Objective: Get the System and Its End-Users Ready For the Go-Live Date

Time Requirements: 2–3 Months

This stage involves leaning down business data to prevent duplication errors and inconsistencies as you migrate to the server. Think of a new ERP system as a fresh start—you want to keep the unnecessary stuff out.

Identify and execute customizations and third-party integration with your vendor to ensure a tailored but user-friendly system. At this stage, you can also start developing and carrying out training programs for end-user.

For the best results, design training programs based on specific user roles to enhance retention and improve acceptance.

4. Testing

Core Objective: Strengthen the System To Minimize Downtime

Time Requirements: 1–2 Months

Testing should be carried out both during and after the development phase. This allows you to identify any gaps in the design or connection. Conduct user-acceptance tests that mimic real-life scenarios to see how your system holds up.

Using the feedback and results, fine-tune your system to minimize sets and downtime after the go-live date.

5. Go Live

Core Objective: Prepare, Validate, and Deploy the New System

Time Requirements: 1–2 Months

After a final assessment, deploy your new ERP system and see how it works. It’s important to note that problems will arise; it’s best to stay calm and keep communication lines open so issues can be addressed.

Keep checking in with different departments to see how the process is going on. As a preventative measure, keep the old ERP software running parallel to the new one for some time.

6. Evaluation and Maintenance

Core Objective: Monitor and Gauge the Success of Implementation

Time Requirements: 3–4 Months

Evaluate your organization against key performance metrics to see how the company is doing in the post-implementation phase. These metrics should focus on workforce productivity, customer satisfaction, and revenue generation.

Incorporate changes based on user feedback and schedule regular maintenance with your vendor for the best results.

Follow these six steps to ensure your organization can make the most of your new ERP system.

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