ERP Selection and Implementation Tips and Tricks

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Helpful Tips on ERP Software Selection and Implementation

 1.     ERP Selection/Implementation Team

Think about who you want on the selection/implementation team.  The quality of your team members is important to the success of the implementation.   Each team member needs to have detailed knowledge of the current procedures.   They also need to be someone that can envision the future goals of the company.   It is required that the selection team is also thr implementation team.   If the teams are not the same people then the finger pointing begins.   Prior to the selection process, the selection team needs to document the requirements.   These requirements will be useful in comparing the ERP software functionality.

2.     Narrow down the list of ERP Products

There are hundreds of ERP packages on the market.   Your company can not look at all of them.  Use the following criteria to narrow down the list:

  • Your business type – If you are a discreet manufacturer, look at the ERP products that handle discreet manufacturing.   There is no need to look at the product that does not handle your type of business.
  • ERP Product lifecycle - What is the long term life of that ERP software package?   Many on the market today are near the end of the life cycle.   Many of these products are based on old technology.  In some cases, the software vendor is limiting any new enhancements.    At some point in the future your company may be pressured into migrating to the vendor’s newer product.    This means another implementation in the near future.   Choose the new products now to look at.
3.     Get a head start on the ERP Implementation/Upgrade?

Your company has bought or is in the process of buying/upgrading an Integrated ERP system.   Getting a head start can help keep the implementation on-time and can help you keep your sanity.    It can be tough at times to complete your tasks for the ERP Implementation and get your normal job duties completed.    It is much easier and faster to perform the following tasks as you are performing your standard routine than it is to sit down and document over a couple of days from memory.

Although many of the recommendations below should have been done before the purchase process began, any missed items should be started now:

Meet with key personnel and have them start collecting the following information:

  • Collect sample documents given to you that you use to make decisions.    Just a page or two highlighting important fields and making a note of how the data is used.

This includes legacy reports, Access databases, Excel Spreadsheets, Word Documents, anything else used.

  • Daily reports
  • Weekly reports
  • Monthly reports
  • Yearly reports
  • Other on-demand reports
  • Phone Calls
  • Emails
  • Faxes
  • Handwritten notes, Post-its, Napkins……
  • Document reports that you get which have no value.
  • What information is missing that you need to make better decisions?
  • Approximately how much time each week are you spending doing certain functions?

Track it several weeks daily to get real numbers.   Be brutally honest.

  • 10%  Planning
  • 20 % Paperwork
  • 10 % Deleting SPAM emails
  • 60 % Firefighting
  • What Software Products do you currently use?
    • Spreadsheets               Microsoft Excel                      Other ______________
    • Word Processor          Microsoft Word                      Other ______________
    • Email                          Microsoft Outlook                  Other ______________
    • Contact Management Microsoft Outlook                  Other ______________
    • Project Management  Microsoft Project                   Other ______________
    • Database Software      Microsoft Access                   Other ______________
    • Flowcharting              Microsoft Visio                      Other ______________
    • CAD Software                        Name : ________________
    • ERP Software             Name : ________________
    • Other software not mentioned : ________________________________
  • What items are on your wish list or goals for the ERP implementation?  List them and rank them by priority.
  • Document your process flow.  For example:
    • Receive email from customer with PO info.
    • Email Sales Manager to get approval of pricing
    • Email Finance Credit Manager to get Credit approval
    • After everything is approved Enter Sales Order into current software
    • Print Sales Order (5 copies)
      • Copy  1 – Fax to Customer
      • Copy  2 – Take to Purchasing
      • Copy  3 – Take to Manufacturing
      • Copy  4 – Take to Finance
      • Copy  5 – File away in Sales Order filing cabinet
  • What are the challenges and problems that keep repeating?    List them and rank them by priority.

After the ERP Software has been selected:

  • If you do not know what ERP or the other acronyms/terms mean ask the questions or look them up on the internet.   Software suppliers are notorious for using TLA’s (Three Letter Acronyms) so it is important to understand what is being discussed.
  • Get the ERP Supplier Network, Server Hardware, Workstation Hardware and Software Requirements documented.   Analyze and create a plan to replace anything that does not meet the minimum specifications required.   It is recommended that you exceed the minimums.   At least make sure the Servers and key personnel workstations exceed the minimums.
  • From the ERP Supplier, get and distribute the electronic manuals of the new system to the appropriate parties.  The more they know how the system works, the better they can make a contribution to implementation.
  • Go to the appropriate product specific Clients First Video Demo site and watch all of the videos to learn more about what the software can do.
  • Begin clearing your plate of any ‘procrastinated’ projects so that when the ERP implementation begins you have as free a schedule as possible.
  • If an option, ask key implementation team members to take vacations before the project starts to minimize project delays.

Performing the above steps over a several months will give you a head start on the implementation.    This is more important if you have certain monthly/quarterly/yearly documents that you may not remember.

4.     Training. Training, Training

Training is one of the most important processes in the correct use of the ERP system.  Over time people come and go and are moved to new responsibilities.   Training needs to be performed for each change.   Not just the software training but the business processes that lead and follow that person's responsibility process.   It is important that the person understands the data being supplied to them and the data they are supplying to the next person.   

5.     Testing, Testing, Testing

During implementation be sure to test.

  • Each ERP system will have several different ways to do something.    Test each one to see which one is correct for you company.    Document your findings from the tests.   I have seen on several occasions the same testing performed two or more times because the people forgot the findings.
  • Test each product line from Quote to Cash until needed
  • Test any unique internal company requirements.  First decide if this is truly a unique internal requirement.   After discussions you may find that it is the way it has always been done and nobody knows why.  If this is the case get rid of the requirement.  Document the findings and how it was handled.
  • Test any unique Customer or Supplier Requirement.  Make sure it is still a requirement.  Document the findings and how it was handled.
  • Test Security settings.  Document the findings.

The following item is for Epicor but many of the items also apply to other ERP packages.

6.     Software Installation/Upgrade Checklist

One of the most important steps of the of a good implementation project plan is to get the software installed and tested. The install process is often complex and needs to be verified before the ERP install consultant leaves.  Once the ERP installer leaves, it could be weeks before rescheduling.

  • Before the installation consultant is scheduled to arrive and install the software verify the following:
    • o Verify your vendor/VAR has sent registration key codes to all modules purchased.  If you are missing registration key codes, contact your Salesperson immediately to get all of the codes.   When you receive the fixed registration key codes, verify them again.
    • o Verify the publisher has sent the correct DVD’s or download links to all modules purchased.   If you are missing DVD’s, contact your Salesperson immediately to get all of the DVD’s.   When you receive the replacement DVD’s, verify them again.
    • o Once you have all of the hardware and software and registration codes have arrived you can schedule the ERP install consultant.
    • Before the ERP software installation is checked off as complete. Be sure to verify the following:
      • o Verify database software is installed and tested.   Download and install any outstanding patches.
      • o Verify  modules purchased are installed on server.    Third party modules will probably be installed later.   Download and install any outstanding patches.
      • o Verify help is installed and working.
      • o Verify the client software is installed on several client computers and is working.
      • o Verify someone at your site is trained on installing the ERP client(workstation) software.
      • o Verify Crystal Reports developer is installed and document which computer it is installed on if applicable
      • o Perform prints and print previews on various reports from a client.
      • o Verify Backups routines are created, tested and scheduled to run nightly.   Make sure a test restore plan is in place
      • o Reboot the ERP servers and make sure the ERP software restarts automatically.  You don't want some Microsoft update to push down months from now, reboot the server, and find out due to an installation glitch, the ERP software doesn't start up and you now have an all hands down situation.
      • o Get all ERP Software media together and store somewhere safe and where it can be found.

Following the above list will help insure a successful software installation.

Contact Us if you have more questions or check out our regular blog HERE.

by Clients First Business Solutions, Mississippi Microsoft Dynamics

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