When a coach in sports picks their team for an upcoming game, they need to make critical decisions, putting the right players and their respective set of skills in the right place at the right time. They give players a job to do that contributes to the overall success of their objective. An ERP implementation should be the same, with implementation managers giving specific jobs and responsibilities.
A successful ERP implementation sets the company up for streamlining and improving existing operations, reducing costs and growing the bottom line, but even the best ERP solution will fail if it’s not properly implemented.
The project team is key to a successful implementation
The key to a successful implementation is to focus on the business outcomes you hope to drive, not the technology outputs. It’s crucial to have a team that is holistic, represents teams from across the organization, and is able to collaborate, facilitate, navigate and recognize risk. A successful implementation will depend on the qualities and experience of the team, with the right mix of experience, technical skills and knowledge of the company’s internal processes.
Also consider whether external support will add to the strength of the team – whether it’s an implementation partner or experts from your vendor. Your partner of choice’s team are uniquely equipped to help you unlock strategic value from your investment and will have many years of experience in implementing ERP solutions across a wide range of industries. These consultants can help guide your project team to deliver a fit-for-purpose solution and avoid any costly mistakes that could result in shelfware.
Choose your key players
ERP implementation across an entire organization is a huge task. An executive sponsor or lead – which may be one person or a small group of people – will play an important role in ensuring that the right ERP software is selected based on business needs, budget and readiness to implement. Top management support gives the implementation the best chance of success.
Having an internal project manager is crucial. Just as you wouldn’t want a sports team without a coach, you wouldn’t want to embark on an implementation without someone whose focus is to drive the implementation across the organization. Your project manager will help outline functional, non-functional and development requirements, manage the project budget and stakeholder expectations, report back to the senior management on the progress made, and manage the overall project timeline and interim deadlines.
Implementing a new ERP system can also mean significant change in the ways of work for an organization, so a change management person or team can help drive the change management strategy internally, manage expectations and obtain that all-important buy-in and feedback from across the company.
Functional team members should come from different departments across the organization, with the goal of explaining to the project manager and implementation partner what their department needs from the system. They will also be an important bridge to employees who are not directly involved in this phase, because they’ll be explaining to those people how to use the system once the implementation is completed.
Just as each member of a sports team must understand their role to get the most out of a game, the same principle applies here. An important aspect is ensuring that everyone has a clear understanding of their specific role and responsibilities, along with the appropriate level of technical skills and knowledge to make sure that the system works for the business.
Gather support throughout the organization
Implementing an ERP system is more than just an IT project, it is a business-wide strategy to unlock multiple benefits for stakeholders. An ERP project can succeed or fail through the commitment of the people who use it. It’s vitally important to communicate with employees early and often, or they won’t commit to using the system correctly. Change management is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked or undervalued.
Training programs should start early in the process, and users should understand the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ of the system. Explain the rationale behind the implementation, why it was necessary to implement the ERP, how it will save money and introduce efficiencies and, most of all, how the new system will improve the working lives of your staff.
Know when to ask your partner of choice for advice
Support adds value to your ERP purchase, and asking for help or advice when you need it can be the difference between up-time and costly downtime. Your partner of choice is best placed to advise and help companies get the most out of their software. This ensures a successful implementation and continuous improvement roadmap is in place, to guide the business in reaping a return on investment of your ERP project for many years to come.