5 Critical Steps in Implementing a New ERP System

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The New Year can be the best time to kick off a new ERP implementation project. Take advantage of this fresh start to begin the planning process!

Countless organizations are finding their existing ERP system no longer able to keep pace with their growing business. The failures are frequent, the expenses are mounting, and the frustration is increasing. For far too many finance professionals, one New Year’s Resolution is “I am not doing this again!”

To maximize the outcomes, and minimize the distractions of your ERP implementation, be sure to include these five critical steps in your selection:


Identify the People

A successful ERP implementation depends on involving the right people, at the right time, and in the right way. No other decision is ultimately more important than the selection of the project team itself. Start smart by identifying and assembling the right internal team (owners, executives, managers and staff) for you to have the best information available. The size of the team will vary over time, but a common core should persist throughout the entire project. From defining the vision of the new systems’ scope and functions, to process documentation, through testing and training, it is the insights and participation of these key members that make the biggest difference in the outcome of your implementation.

Document the Process

The frustrations, inefficiencies and shortcomings of the existing system have likely led to an increasing set of work-arounds that are required at present. Yikes. Indeed, it is precisely these problems that prompted the search for a replacement. Now it is time to “formalize” these work-arounds, at least in terms of a process document: What is the objective of the process? What are the current steps in the process? Which of the steps are currently supported, and which require a work-around?

The flaws in the current system, and the work-arounds employed to get past them, are critical bits of information. When it comes time to select a new system, these process documents can form the basis for objectively comparing the replacement candidates.


Set the Priority

It can be tempting to allow your desires for a new system to include every possible change or improvement you or anyone else can think of. While documenting your processes, a brief poll of your colleagues can produce a lengthy “wish list” of better processes, analytics, or collaboration tools. Years of frustrations should provide plenty of material. This is a great starting point, but it needs to be worked through first.

A successful ERP implementation will focus only on a carefully selected and ranked list of priorities. Start with the “everything” list. Next, identify those functions, processes and analytics that need first priority, then second priority, etc. Some of the Wish List will be mission critical and essential to the success of the company, and some will be very beneficial, but not quite rising to the first priority group. This ranked set of priorities is essential for the next step.


Select the Product

Armed with a set of process documents, and a prioritized list of features and functions, let the search begin. Where to start? Use the priority list and decide if you need a “general” product with a strong set of core features and functions, rapid implementation and wide applicability, or a more specialized and focused solution, designed for your industry and, perhaps, even customized to your own specifications.

The range of options for a replacement ERP system is extensive, with choices for deployment method, size and scale, and every budget. The key to making a correct selection is having completed the first three steps. Does the proposed system support my existing processes without the work-arounds? Does the new system improve upon my existing processes, introducing greater efficiencies or collaboration? Can the new system support future growth, greater volumes, or new ventures?


Engage the Partner

Moving through the selection process for your new ERP system, the final choice is the implementation partner. Choose carefully, this decision is important. The ERP partner is responsible for delivering your vision, developed by your key people and based on your key priorities. Does the partner have the technical expertise the project will require? Does the partner follow a defined implementation methodology? Does the partner have an approach that is compatible with your own company culture and personality?

For any ERP implementation, it is the collaboration between your project team and the ERP Partner that determines the ultimate success or failure of the project.




A successful ERP implementation doesn’t require magic. It is the result of careful product selection and collaboration with the right partner, made easy by following these specific steps. Include these 5 key elements in your new system: People, Process, Priority, Product and Partner. Your new ERP system will be magical in itself! Take advantage of these five critical steps to make the year 2015 a step forward for your organization.


By TMC, Your Southern California Dynamics GP Partner.

5 Critical Steps in Implementing a New ERP System

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