What does it take to select, and then implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution that will drive your business forward? It’s a non-trivial issue. ERP typically comprises the core operational software in a company. The better it works, the better the business runs, all other things being equal. Thus, choosing an ERP solution requires some focus and the investment of time and people—an investment that will surely pay rich dividends if the process runs the right way. Here are five steps we recommend you go through (or at least consider) if you’re thinking about acquiring an ERP solution or replacing one you already have.
1) The Preliminaries
Some of the most important work you can do in selecting and implementing an ERP solution occurs before you actually do much of anything specifically related to selection and implementation. First, ask yourself the question we encourage our clients to ask: Do you actually need an ERP solution? Not every company needs one. Answering this question might set up a useful dialogue on what kind of ERP you need. Some companies do well with quite simple solutions, while others need more sophistication. Also, do you need it right now? If it’s October, and Christmas is your busy time, then wait.
From there, you need to assemble your team. Selecting and implementing an ERP solution is a big, lengthy process. (If it isn’t, that probably means you’re rushing, and that’s not a good thing.) Ideally, the ERP selection and implementation should be a project with a full-time project manager for its duration. There could be months or even a year or more of work. You should probably have an executive sponsor, too. The CFO might be a good person for this role.
The ERP selection and implementation project needs a plan and a strategy. This includes having a statement of purpose and expected benefits. For example, how will the new solution positively affect end users? How much money is it expected to save the company and so forth.
2) Get Everyone on the Same Page
The second step involves thinking through and listing system requirements. Here, it’s useful to differentiate between absolute needs versus desirable or “nice to have” features. Think through what functionality you might need in the future. For example, speak to the accounting department about their needs. If they are planning to set up multiple corporate entities next year, then multi-entity accounting is a good thing to have, even if it’s not put to work right away.
3) Choose a Solution Provider and Implementation Partner
Getting a new ERP solution means going into partnership with two other firms. You have the ERP solution provider itself. That might be Acumatica or other ERP vendors. However, unless you have extraordinary capabilities in-house, you will need an implementation partner. This is what we do. Modern cloud ERP solutions like Acumatica are indeed a great deal easier to deploy then the older, on-premises systems. However, there are still specific skills—and just pure bandwidth—that you need to get from outside your organization to implement a new ERP.
The implementation process can be challenging, though if you have done your requirements work and chosen the right partner, you may avoid the most serious problems. Unforeseen issues will surely arise. Here’s where having the right team in place can make a big difference. For example, you might have a choice about whether you should integrate the new ERP with the legacy warehouse management system or run them in parallel until you can install the ERP’s warehouse module next year. The executive sponsor can help think through the decision and reach a conclusion that will keep the process moving forward and avoid organizational difficulties.
5) Go Live and After
After a lot of hard work, it will be time for the new ERP solution to go live. This is the start, not the end, of a process, however. Launching a new ERP is an exercise in change management. People may not like the new system, even if can do all sorts of new things and save time. The project plan should include a post-launch adoption process. This might include training and feedback sessions along with the identification of project champions.
Get the Full Selection and Implementation Guide
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As a leading implementation partner, we can help you think through these often overlooked, but quite important aspects of a successful ERP debut. To learn more about what it takes to succeed in selecting and implementing a new ERP solution, contact us for a free consultation and product demonstration.