ERP Implementation: Strategies for Success

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ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) selection and implementation is a big undertaking; you can’t afford to get it wrong. Unfortunately, because it’s a big project, implementation is often complicated by escalations, delays, or cost overruns. And aside from implementation glitches, some projects prove less than successful because of the failure of users to adopt the new technology.

At KORCOMPTENZ, we’ve implemented hundreds of intelligent business solutions that help our clients empower their teams, optimize their business processes, and better serve their customers. We can help you avoid the pitfalls often associated with ERP implementation and user adoption. We’ve compiled a series of suggestions you can follow to ensure ERP implementation success:

  1. Start with the big picture.

You have to visualize your organization's future requirements like technology landscape, process automation & various application integration requirements, and the latest technology adoption requirements like IoT, etc. before you plan to implement any ERP Solution.

Determine from the start just what you want to accomplish with a new or upgraded ERP. Ask your stakeholders and process owners about the limitations and pain points of your present system and what features would be most beneficial in a new solution. Revisit / Reengineer your key functionalities, business processes, workflows, data requirements, and other systems which might need integrations, including those of your customers and vendors. If digital transformation and growth are your goals, ERP will be a major player.

You should also make sure to involve your top executives in the planning process. Not just with regards to the budget but the project goals and any changes that need to be done, must have the involvement of all key stakeholders.

  1. Garner the support you need by involving all stakeholders.

Identify your Project Sponsors. Even the best ERP implementation projects can quickly go awry without the support of those who will be using and relying on the technology.

Support for the project must come from those who have authority and from those who will use it the most. Outline your plan with these stakeholders and be sure their concerns are addressed, and their requirements are considered. At a high level identify the business consolidation requirements, Executive information system requirements, etc.

Besides being in on requirements gathering, the users and stakeholders must be given the time to understand the plan from the start, increase their involvement along the way, and follow through with enthusiastic adoption of the product. Choose your core team of users and the project manager from among those who have a stake in the project’s success.

  1. Focus on the people, not the technology, and set measurable goals.

In most cases, businesses are under the impression that just choosing the right technology is enough. But this is not the case. The success of the project depends more on the people than the technology. An ERP is just the enabler. It can be easily customized based on our needs. It does not matter if Microsoft is better than SAP or if NetSuite is better than Microsoft. The most important question to ask yourself is who can bring your implementation plan to life?

Once you have decided on who will be managing your project the next question to ask yourself is what your goals are and what do you need to do to achieve them. It is best to set measurable goals as it will help you better measure business benefits during and after the implementation process and will also help in aligning your stakeholders with the project goals.

  1. Establish proper project governance.

At every stage of the project, you must work hard to manage peoples’ changing demands. Help them understand the scope of the project and how it will benefit them in their job roles as well as moving your organization toward your goals. The top issues often are related to change management, training, and adequate staff to manage processes.

It might be best to establish a set of governance procedures that every member of the project team needs to follow to ensure the smooth running of the project. Even if the people managing the project change, if there is an established set of guidelines to follow - the project can easily go on without pause. This will help you to greatly reduce the amount of timeline overruns and ensure the smooth completion of the project.

  1. Allow sufficient time for your project and budget.

 Scheduling realistic timelines will set you up for success. Building in some time for unforeseen adjustments is a good idea and having contingency plans will serve as a safety net, should you meet with resource fall outs, change requests, missed deadlines, or schedule disruptions. If you can - avoid going live during peak business times.

The expectations and goals which you set for your project timeline, as well as the project budget, should be realistic. Adopt a flexible timeline and budget to account for unexpected changes.

ERP implementation can be a costly investment. It’s important to budget for the complete cost of ownership before you commit your company. It is recommended that you budget at least 25% over what you think it might cost. That way you’ll be able to meet any unexpected expenses that might arise.

  1. Let your business processes define your ERP and determine how much customization will be necessary.

One important point which you need to consider is that rather than adjusting your business processes to suit your ERP what you need to do is to ensure that your ERP matches your business processes. Having clear business requirements will ensure that your ERP software will align with your goals smoothly minimizing disruptions due to repetitive edits to the original plan.

Once you have finalized the people and processes that you are going to follow, then it is time to focus on the technology. If this is your company’s first ERP project, it’s wise to minimize customizations that are complicated and may cause delays. Customizations can create expenses and complications for your project. Look for an ERP solution that has the features you need already built-in. If you have specialized processes for your industry, consider third-party ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) who are specialized in your industry. This will save you time and expense.

  1. Consider your other applications and don’t neglect user acceptance testing.

Make sure that only necessary applications are integrated with the ERP. Don’t integrate all your present applications if those processes can be handled independently.  Once your team becomes increasingly familiar with your new solution other integrations can be done after you go live.

An important step is when those who will use the technology confirm that the system is configured and customized according to your business processes, allow key users the time necessary to test the system. This is so, as if there is a problem after going live, it will be costly to make changes. It will also disrupt business if your team is making changes to the system while the system is being used by the users. Skipping testing to go live with the software due to time constraints can have disastrous effects. Even if the time for testing prolongs the implementation of the project, it is advisable to delay the go-live date.

  1. Provide sufficient training and invest in change management.

Effective training is an art as well as a science. Your team, from the top down, needs to be supplied with the proper amount of training, not too much or too little. There is a lot they need to learn but avoid overwhelming them with everything at once. Identifying your core team and allow them to learn and then become trainers for other employees. Choose these core team members carefully to ensure they have the right skills and personalities to master the software and deal successfully with other users.

Investing in change management will be very helpful in getting the employees to transition to the new change in process in the ERP System. While having a training plan is good but the training will end up getting wasted if there is resistance on the part of the employees to learn. Thus, investing in change management activities such as transparent communication of all your plans as well as the benefits of these plans will go a long way in dispelling this resistance to change.

  1. Have a risk mitigation plan.

No project is without risk. Thus, it is best to create a way to identify and deal with potential risks to the project through the creation of a risk mitigation plan. To assess risks, it is best to get an unbiased third-party perspective. Someone who is used to assessing risks for projects such as yours and can give unbiased advice on a plan of action.

Risk assessment should be done periodically, and it is best to assess the risk to your project through a variety of different perspectives to get the most comprehensive assessment of your project. A qualified and experienced Microsoft partner such as KORCOMPTENZ can help you assess and understand the risks involved through a thorough risk assessment.

But which ERP?

Of course, an important question you’ll need to answer is, which ERP solution will best fit your business needs. While mapping out your business processes is more important than selecting an ERP that does not mean you should be negligent in choosing one.

We have put together a list of reasons why Microsoft Dynamics ERP is worth considering:-

Microsoft Dynamics is one of the top 3 Enterprise Business ERP solutions. Here’s how it compares to its competitors, SAP Hana and Oracle Enterprise Application:

Cost: Microsoft Dynamics is in the low to mid-price range for Enterprise ERP solutions.

Deployment: Microsoft Dynamics offers both on-premise and cloud options.

Implementation time: The implementation time for Microsoft Dynamics ERP is shorter than the estimates of the two competitors.

Support costs: Microsoft Dynamics has lower support costs than the other two.

Training time: Microsoft Dynamics requires less training time because your employees are already familiar with the Microsoft platform.

Ease of Use: Microsoft Dynamics is user-friendly since the UI is like Windows.

Flexibility: Microsoft Dynamics is more flexible than SAP Hana or Oracle Enterprise.

Customization: Microsoft Dynamics is easily customized compared to SAP Hana which requires deep knowledge of the software and takes longer.

Integration: Microsoft Dynamics Integrates well with Microsoft’s suite of products as well as non-Microsoft products.

Ease of user adoption: Of the top three solutions, Microsoft Dynamics is the easiest for your employees to adopt.

BI capabilities: Microsoft Dynamics has built-in Business Intelligence tools like Power BI. Multiple sources of data can be used. SAP Hana requires a separate server, database, and security. Oracle Enterprise requires deep data scientists and analysts to operate.

And for small and mid-sized businesses, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central outperforms NetSuite and Infor for cost, ease of use, implementation time, ease of customization, and user adoption.

KORCOMPTENZ is a Microsoft Gold-Certified Partner headquartered in New Jersey with extensive experience improving business outcomes for our customers. We leverage end-to-end solutions involving the ongoing convergence of ERP, Azure Cloud, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT. We specialize in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 range of products such as Dynamics 365 Business Central, Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, and Dynamics 365 CRM. Request a consultation today!

By KORCOMPTENZ, www.korcomptenz.com

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