Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are rapidly changing the face of business operations. By streamlining processes and data management, these ERPs support companies in achieving productivity and informed decision making for a boost in business output.
The implementation of these ERPs can however seem complex and daunting for businesses due to the amount of time and resources required. A structured approach is required to unlock the full benefits of an ERP system. In this blog, we will discuss 10 steps for achieving a successful ERP implementation.
What is an ERP system?
An ERP system is a type of software that helps organisations in automating core business processes to achieve one system that allows everyone in your organisation to view the same information and drive optimal performance They support you in managing day to day activities such as manufacturing, supply chain operations, procurement, finance and reporting, from a centralised platform.
The integrated platforms located on-premises or in the cloud, provide transparency into business processes by providing performance tracking into all aspects of an organisation. They are made up of modules and features for promoting collaboration, data management and decision making.
Main types of ERP solutions_
ERP can be classified into two main models: On-Premises and Cloud.
On-Premises ERPs are installed and function on an organisation’s own server and hardware. This gives you full control over the software, security, hardware and the maintenance of the system. On-prem ERPs can also be customised to meet the bespoke requirements of your business. IT personnel and specialists are needed to regularly update the software.
Cloud-based ERP systems are hosted on remote servers and can be accessed over the internet. Employees are able to use the software once they log onto a computer. Cloud ERPs reduce the need to house extensive IT infrastructure and resources. This lowers operational costs and helps businesses to function in a more agile manner. Examples of such software include Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Dynamics 365 – Microsoft Finance and Operations and Power Platform. These applications empower business leaders in having an end-to-end view of their business.
A successful ERP implementation requires the right mix of expertise and software to achieve a desired output. Below, we’ll outline 10 steps for successful implementation.
Define clear objectives and the scope of work_
The path towards attaining a successful ERP system implementation starts with outlining a clear plan. Defining the aim for the project and how it will be achieved will guide the entire process. You should be able to articulate succinctly the business activities that the ERP system will improve, such as customer relationship management, financial management and supply chain. Having this clear understanding will lay the foundation for the implementation process.
Create a reliable ERP implementation team_
Assembling the right team is key to the success of any ERP project. By putting together well experienced specialists from across different departments in your organisation, you will be presented with a breadth of knowledge, which can then be used for the implementation process. A project manager should also be put in charge to map out timelines, resource management and execution. Regular reviews should also be conducted to ensure the success of the project.
Conduct an extensive business analysis_
Businesses seeking to implement a successful ERP strategy should conduct a comprehensive analysis of their existing business processes. This will help in identifying any inefficiencies and areas needing improving, thereby making it easier to align the ERP system with the specific needs of your business. Additionally, it offers the opportunity to design new processes which will improve upon any problems that are identified during the analysis.
Choose the right ERP system and vendor_
Selecting the right ERP vendor is crucial to the success of the implementation project. Companies need to conduct extensive research and evaluate different ERP software, so as to be able to compare features, compatibility, scalability and flexibility with their IT infrastructure. Factors such as vendor reputation, implementation guidance and cost of ownership should also be taken into consideration when deciding on the right vendor to proceed with.
Develop a comprehensive implementation plan_
Creating an effective plan provides the framework for a successful ERP implementation. By detailing tasks and responsibilities, all parties involved will know what is required of them to achieve the desired goal. Establishing realistic timelines and goals for the ERP strategy, ensures the effective management of resources. Complex tasks should be broken down into simpler activities to allow for a seamless rollout and execution.
Adequate user training_
Employees need to be given adequate training on the integral components of the ERP system. By educating staff on the features of the software and its benefits, they will be able to effectively use it for improved outcomes. Once comprehensive training is provided to all users involved, different functionalities in the ERP system are thoroughly addressed, for effective change management. This ensures the buy-in from all ERP users for a smooth adoption of the system across the business.
Data accuracy and migration_
Every successful ERP system implementation relies on the accuracy of the data provided. Before beginning the migration, existing data should be evaluated to ensure that the information being fed into the system is precise. A well-outlined data migration strategy stating processes, tools and methodologies should be designed to make the transfer from legacy ERP systems to the new system seamless.
To ensure the full utilisation of the features within the ERP system, IT consultants involved with the ERP migration should conduct configurations within the entire system. It is recommended that these skilled professionals are largely involved in the migration for risk assessment and to prevent any loss in resources.
Configuration is a very crucial step in the implementation process, as it ensures that the various features of the software can be suited to meet the requirements of the larger organisation.
System testing and quality assurance_
After going through all of the above steps, intensive testing and quality assurance should then be undertaken so that any problematic areas can be rectified before the ERP system implementation is finally launched. Testing should include scenarios covering different processes and user data. This will ensure the seamless performance and operation of the software.
Go-live and system maintenance_
The final step in the process is the ongoing maintenance of the ERP system. Regular evaluations including upgrades are needed to ensure the smooth performance of the application. The system should be monitored closely in the initial stages for any teething issues to be addressed. User feedback should also be collected to facilitate in delivering any enhancements needed. IT personnel should also manage updates provided by the ERP vendor, for the features to be fully leveraged.
Advanced ERP implementation for business transformation_
ERPs facilitate businesses in driving innovation and development across the board. By establishing clear objectives prior to ERP implementation, organisations will be able to benefit more from the smart functionalities of systems. It also requires comprehensive planning and an adequate strategy to improve factors such as productivity and cost savings.
For more information on how to conduct an effective ERP implementation within your organisation, you can contact our experienced team of specialists.