Software Selection and System Implementations are considerations for businesses that are growing, wanting to streamline their business processes, and need to harness the best technology to stay competitive in the marketplace. Under these conditions your organization may want to upgrade or replace their old Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for a new one to stay in the game.
For many companies going through a formal Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) review is complicated, long and drawn out, and a daunting experience; from soliciting their users about what they need, to determining the best Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for their organization after talking to many ERP vendors.
One would naturally think that whatever the final decision, the ERP system should work for them because it works for other companies with similar processes, the product demonstration looked good, and most of all, the vendor said it would work for you. So, if we trust the process and ERP vendors, we should arrive at a happy conclusion, right?! In some cases the outcomes were successful and in others fraught with cost overruns and Go Live delays. Those who have gone through system selections and implementations know exactly what I’m talking about. No one wants a hit and miss approach to System Selection and Implementation and everyone wants that predictable outcome. So how can that be achieved?
Here are 6 simple steps to remember if you are embarking on the journey of Software Selection and Implementation and you want to increase your chances for a successful outcome:
Step 1: Understand your companies’ goals, objectives, and business requirements, and figure out where you are today and where you need to be in the future.
Step 2: Understand the complexity of your business and how change is evoked within your organization and the how sophisticated your users are to embrace the change that is in front of them.
Step 3: Based on the above two steps, determine the best ERP solution for your organization. Something that is tried and tested and made for your industry and size and is aligned to your ERP Roadmap.
Step 4: Go through the process of comparing the top ERP vendors and select the best one. Be sure to review the Software, Services, and Annual Maintenance contracts so you know what’s in scope and the costs to deliver the full solution, including support costs post Go Live.
Step 5: Hire a Project Manager to manage your team and the ERP vendor so the project is implemented correctly, is on time, on budget, and the vendor delivers on their commitments. The Project Manager should also be able to coordinate the activities to make sure your I.T. environment is ready for the ERP implementation.
Step 6: Pop the champagne after you go live with your new ERP!
The above steps are the foundation for a successful outcome if you spend the requisite amount of time at every step. The one size fits all does not apply with ERPs. Your industry, your size, your complexity, your people, your budget, and your timelines are just some of the factors to consider when choosing the best ERP solution for your organization let alone the future scale so you don’t outgrow what you have purchased.
Whether you do this on your own or you hire an outside consulting agency, the thing you should remember is to follow a process and make sure your Project Team is included at every step of the project from requirements review, to system selection, to the system implementation.
About the author: Al Esmail, PMP, CPA, CGA has held Senior Management positions with ERP vendors like SAP, Microsoft, Infor, and Sage to name a few. He currently leads an ERP I.T. company helping customers with all facets of their ERP life cycle from identifying your business requirements, helping you select the best system for your industry, Project Managing the implementation, and providing post live support for your ERP solution.