Recognizing that you have a serious problem is the first step in getting help. This is certainly true when considering your antiquated or underpowered accounting system. Without doubt, this system has helped you reach your current status, but you now realize that it is holding you back. Achieving the growth that you know you are capable of will soon require a new ERP system.
Time is of the essence, certainly, yet haste makes waste. The key, then, is making efficient use of your time and effort. As you begin to scour the internet, seek the knowledge of your colleagues, and revisit familiar platforms you may have used previously, there are also 5 key steps that need to be completed, and are entirely internal, so there should be minimal costs involved. You might be the Project Lead, working solo, or one member of a project team; in any case:
Honestly assess your current system: detailing its strengths and weaknesses will help you identify what must be retained, and what must be improved in the new system. A simple two column list can be a great place to start. Use this list to compare your potential candidates.
Develop a budget, but retain some flexibility. Allow for the software (and hardware if required), implementation services including data migration and training, and “expect the unexpected”. There will be revisions to this as details on the project becomes clearer over time.
“Put it in Writing”. Document your critical business process flows, those specific tasks and steps that are unique to your business or industry. Simple flow charts with basic steps and decision points will help you identify inefficiencies and redundancies in your processes, and these are opportunities for improvement. Be sure to include the appropriate people to participate: stakeholders, executives and managers all have unique needs and insights; don’t leave them out.
Create a “soft-focus” vision of what you hope to achieve. Don’t just say “I want a better system”; be specific: “This process needs to be improved, by this measurement”. This “soft-focus” will become much clearer over time, but start with general terms and perspectives.
Set a realistic expectation for what you need to achieve in terms of time and effort. The goal is to achieve the desired outcome with minimal waste and inefficiency, so keep your eyes on the prize. Be wary of distractions and avoid the tendency to replicate your existing system, warts and all, in the new system. Consider the impact of any other systems that will need to be integrated, where a phased approach would be appropriate.
Haste does make waste, and that causes problems for everyone involved. Time invested up-front will pay large dividends later. Setting clear and specific goals and objectives, having a preliminary budget and timeline, and involving the right people early in the process produces results.
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