Implementing your new ERP is one of the most important things your company will ever do. It will change how efficient and productive your company can be. In the long run, you will be more profitable. But you are making an investment, not only of time but of money.
So the way you approach the implementation of your ERP is the same way you would approach any other project. But what does project management of ERP implementation look like? Here are some key points to consider and follow.
Focus on Business Drivers
You’re spending a ton of money on an ERP, so every feature is important right? And even if it is a smaller feature, why not implement it right away? This kind of thinking gets a lot of companies in trouble and drags out the implementation process. It slows the project down, and it takes a lot longer to get the results you are looking for.
Instead, focus most of your energy on the key features that actually drive your business and make you profitable. Use a simple 80/20 rule: focus 80% of your effort on the 20% of the ERP features that are the most important to you and your company. Complete the implementation of the rest once you have implemented the key elements.
Just as with any other project, having the right people in the right places will make all the difference to your success. The chances are near 100% that you will face challenges during this process. Are the people on the implementation team the people who can face and help solve those issues?
At the same time, it is not just about the implementation team, but about those who are vested in change management, and those leading your organization overall. Remember, your greatest asset is your people, and leaning into their strengths is the key to your business success.
Put Function First
This is a tough one because there are two aspects to a successful ERP implementation. The first is that the right people are leading the project to ensure the functions of the software that the business needs to drive growth and profits are in place. However, those people are usually not your greatest software experts.
That means that your IT team must also play a key role. They need to keep those seeking better functions informed and sometimes in check so that they stay within the scope and capability of the ERP.
Think of it this way. If IT led the ERP process, it is probable they would miss some of the business needs in the interest of efficiency. However, if the business functions team led the ERP implementation, they could potentially create huge headaches for the IT team. The best solution is a collaboration between the two entities to get the best results quickly.
Much like the IT argument above, one of the keys to ERP implementation is change management. People’s jobs will change, the duties they perform will be different, and the process by which things get done will change as well. This will create some discomfort in your employees.
Managing this change is vital to your success, but that does not mean that the ERP team leader needs to be the expert in change management. In fact, it is often best for that aspect to be handled by leadership. It is about open communication, proactive conversations, and clarity whenever possible on where the company is going next and what that will look like.
While this clarity and openness in leadership is key, your employees must understand that until full implementation happens, nothing is set in stone, and things can still change. Eventually, new processes will be fully in place as will new duties and new positions. In the meantime, stress can be a reality, and leadership assisting with that as much as possible will help you retain your best talent.
Training and Education
Why are you implementing a new ERP? What do those who actually do the various jobs everyday need, want, and care about with the new processes? You want to enable feedback you want your people to push back and teach you about their jobs.
At the same time, for that feedback to be effective and useful, your employees need to be fully trained on the systems and updated as changes occur. Training must be ongoing and thorough. Expectations need to be set, and they need to be realistic under the new process.
Your team must know how to correct mistakes, what they can and cannot experiment with, where changes are still coming, and how they fit into that process. The better they know and understand the system and the changes that are happening, the greater help they can be in the implementation process, but also in the execution once implementation is complete.
Every organization will go through growth and change when implementing a new ERP. The key is to treat and manage it like any other project in your company. Put the right people in the right places and let them do their jobs. Focus on what matters along with change management, and your ERP implementation will be the most successful.
Ready to talk about a custom ERP, ERP implementation, or other business process automation? Contact us at SixtySIxTen today. We would love to hear from you, and figure out how we can best help your company.