Replacing your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system will be a significant project. There’s no getting around it, though the process has gotten a great deal easier and faster with the advent of modern, cloud-based ERP solutions like Acumatica. With that in mind, here are five steps for success with an ERP replacement strategy.
1) Undergoing the preliminaries
The first step is to realize you need to replace your ERP. You’ll know when it is time for a new ERP when your current system doesn’t do what it once did or cannot expand as needed. Staff will let it be known in various ways that using the current system makes it difficult to do their jobs. Users will be improvising workarounds and will resort to spreadsheets to cover what your legacy ERP does not provide. The “bending over backward” to complete tasks exposes software limitations and will, by definition negatively affect time-sensitive customer requests.
You’ve grown out of your software. You probably already know this for a long time, but didn’t want to face the issue. However, you might want to see this as a great indicator of your business being on the right track. If you didn’t feel constrained by your ERP, that would mean your company has been static for years.
Then, you need to do a quick assessment about whether the replacement project is worthwhile. You’ll have to pencil out Return on Investment (ROI) and related business factors. It shouldn’t be that hard. Your outdated software is not cost effective and is causing you to instead lose money. Now, your company is at a competitive disadvantage. Learn more about how much ERP costs.
2) Getting buy-in from all stakeholders
A new ERP represents a major commitment, one that will affect nearly everyone in the business over a long period of time. Buy-in from stakeholders is therefore absolutely essential. These include people from IT, finance, accounting operations, project management, customer service, sales and marketing and production operations. In some cases, engineering may also want to have a voice in the decision. Key decision makers need reasons why the company should spend money and agree to some “downtime” while implementing the new system, training staff and getting up to speed.
3) Choosing a solution provider and implementation partner
It can be hard to know where to start. Do you figure out the system you want and then find an implementation partner? Or, is it better to do the other way around. There is no correct answer, but in our experience, it helps to have a trusted implementation partner on board at least during, if not before, the solution selection process. The software vendor wants to sell software. That’s normal. However, they probably won’t understand the nuances of your business as well as a partner can.
Your employees need to be part of the selection process, too, identifying preferred functionality and highlighting what is not working with the old system. Your company needs to delineate and project what may change as well as what needs may become apparent with the natural evolution of your core business and possible new ventures. The software must be easy and intuitive. It must be able to support many users. It must address the challenges that brought you to “test drive” a new ERP.
Next, narrow down a preferred list of ERP candidates from research and requests for proposal (RFPs). Meet with these companies and carefully evaluate their ERP software demos so you can make a short list. Support is key. Your system developer and implementation partner must also be “best in show.”
4) Acquiring and implementing
If you have done your research and worked closely with the right partner, the process of acquiring and implementing the ERP should be relatively smooth. There will always be issues, of course. However, hopefully you and your partner have anticipated the most serious of them. Change is difficult, though stress can be mitigated with proactive discussions. Planning and training are also critical for success. They should be line items in the process of bringing the project in on time and budget.
You should have already set expectations regarding the ERP software roll-out and discussed the process with relevant employees. That way, no one will experience any surprises. Track everything. Be clear and give users the latitude to know that there are no “irrelevant” questions. All who will use the software need to feel comfortable. Now is the time for “over communication” and clarity.
5) Making the most of the time after the “Go Live”
The “Go Live” moment feels good. It’s been a long road, but now the company has the right tools to work efficiently and grow. New technology is constantly evolving, yet hopefully with strategic planning and a good relationship with your vendor, good choices will be proven successful. Flexibility, an open mind and ease of the planned switch to the best ERP software for your company will pay off in human and financial dividends. This isn’t the time to rest, though. While you may no longer be in a high-stress state, you should get to work right after go live to think about optimizing workflows on the new ERP, adding modules and the like.
We have a long track record of advising companies like yours on replacing their ERP solutions. To learn more, contact us for a free consultation.
Learn More in Our ERP Selection and Implementation Guide
How can you maximize the benefits of ERP while minimizing the risks? Find out in “Navigating ERP Selection and Implementation: A 5-Step Process.” In this white paper, two ERP industry veterans share their decades of ERP implementation experience and reveal the practices that successful implementations all have in common, such as:
- Setting the project up for success before you even start looking at vendors.
- Putting together the right team.
- Selecting the best system for your company.
- Remembering key post-implementation issues.
Don’t miss this chance to get expert guidance for your ERP selection and implementation process. Download the ERP selection and implementation guide now.
Learn more in our ERP Software Comparison Report: Compare 14 Providers.