Each time I watch the Olympics and I hear the athletes explain the numerous factors that helped them win a medal, I think that we would all benefit if we would learn from the analysis of their success.
Why? Because we too often hear that talent or hard work are the only ingredients needed to overcome any challenge. And between the two of us, I don’t believe it. Whether it’s a sporting event or a big company project, there are many elements in your path that will be crucial to your success. This is the same everywhere!
So, when my clients ask me what they need to succeed in their ERP implementation, they often expect a simple answer that combines investment and expertise. However, it’s far more complicated than that. This is why I’ve decided to give you a list of factors for successful ERP implementation to help you better understand the important points and elements to consider throughout your journey.
Factor #1 of success of your ERP implementation: take the time
We must make something clear right away. An ERP implementation demands your most precious cargo: your best resources, your most versatile employees, and, obviously, your time.
So, everybody that works closely with the elaboration of processes and the set up of the ERP will have to invest all of their time in an ERP implementation. Since it’s an extended project that spans a long period of time and requires a lot of energy, it’s essential to free the necessary people from their usual tasks, so they can streamline the implementation process and avoid delays.
So, for a while at least, you’ll need to think about redistributing tasks for your teams and maybe even hiring more employees to help you tackle the challenge. This way, you’ll enable your project team to avoid being overwhelmed by the size of the task, the goals to achieve, and the deadline. If you do this, you can guarantee your ERP will work for you for a long time.
Factor #2 of success of your ERP implementation: clarity is needed
Besides time and resources, it’s essential to have clear goals. You’ll need to answer questions and create understandable targets for everybody on the team:
- Why are we replacing the actual solution?
- What are the problems to handle?
- What are the factors of success specific to the ERP?
This way you’ll be able to ensure that each decision made during the process (and there will be a million, trust me) will work toward those goals. These questions give a spirit to the project and provide clear objectives.
Factor #3 of success of your ERP implementation: communication is queen
Obviously, when we talk about clarity, we also think about the importance of communication. In a project as complex and as long as ERP implementation, it goes (almost) without saying that communication is essential. By defining clear objectives or goals, you’ll ensure that your project team knows the destination to reach.
However, you also have to define your needs and take the time to explain each parametric specific to your demands. So, when you ask the solution to manage a customer account, you need to be a little more precise: talk in terms of particular payments, explain the client’s claims, etc. Our main goal? Do not make any assumptions!
Besides, it’s also important to manage the expectations. An ERP is a solution that affects everybody in a company. It can support you in everything you do. It’s certain that there will be changes, improvements, and even some frictions at the beginning. Don’t be discouraged. Make sure that you’ll be able to defend your choices and thoroughly explain what the solution will and won’t be able to do.
Factor #4 of success of your ERP implementation: get a steering committee
So, since an ERP implementation is the work of a village, it goes without saying that you’ll need a steering committee. Between your organization, your clients and your suppliers, everybody will be affected by such an implementation. So what does a steering committee do?
A steering committee is a team that ensures a good liaison between the managers and the ERP implementation project. That way, all of them who work directly or indirectly with the project will be able to get support and needed resources from the managers.
By providing regular reports and ensuring cohesion between the managers and the demands of the team working on the ERP, the steering committee makes sure, like a plane pilot, that everything is under control and the project gets to the destination without any setbacks.
Factor #5 of success of your ERP implementation: choose your abilities wisely
Besides the steering committee who will ensure a liaison between management and project development, you’ll also need a project team who will put the ERP implementation in place. Remember that your task is putting in place a managing solution that will help you in every aspects of your company, not writing code or installing programs. This isn’t a tech project.
Then, you’ll have to think about creating a project team whose abilities and work in your company have given them understanding of your processes, your operation, and your work method in each sector. Why?
Because this team will be responsible for defining the processes in your ERP, documenting them, and even challenging some ideas. They then give them life and convince other colleagues of the benefits of these new ideas. They are kind of your evangelists.
Finally, remember to appoint a project manager for your team to ensure follow-up for finances, deadlines, and issues. The project manager also to helps find global solutions and negotiates compromises for setting up an ERP that will please everybody. Make sure that you have somebody who knows your organization well and who has experience managing projects that involve multiple departments.
And, if I may add, if you know another person that could be valuable for the team because that employee knows your processes well and has a bit of time on hand, consider naming that person project champion. It’s not a mandatory role, but it gives you an exterior eye and a more global view of the project. This person will be able to support the project manager in their decisions.
Factor #6 of success of your ERP implementation: limit the customization of the solution
Do you remember when I talked about defining clear goals? Well, they’ll be useful here because you have to remember that customizing an ERP can be very interesting and beneficial for you, but it can also cost you a lot more and extend your deadlines.
So before asking for a customization of your ERP, go back to your goals and needs. Is this customization serving my goals? Are these needs really necessary? Is there a way to reach those goals while using the out-of-the-box process for this solution?
You’d be surprised by how many customizations are implemented just to reproduce what the last solution was doing. Never hesitate to challenge customization requests! And if you think you’ll have a hard time doing it, think about implementing a ‘’no-change’’ committee. Your project team will have to justify each customization and answer to this group.
Factor #7 of success of your ERP implementation: don’t forget data conversion
So you’ve worked for many years to build your database and it’s essential to progression and performance in your company. What do you do with it once you have implemented your ERP?
It’s important remember to convert your data for your new ERP. Be aware that it probably represents the biggest piece of the implementation puzzle. But this operation should not be, under any circumstance, underestimated.
Get to know the state of your database before the implementation process and choose what data will be converted and which data will not.
Factor #8 of success of your ERP implementation: training is ESSENTIAL
I repeat, essential. One of the biggest challenges of your ERP implementation isn’t really choosing the process or developing customizations. No, the ultimate obstacle to your success when implementing your ERP is the challenge for you and your employees to adapt to the new solution.
An ERP is a complex software that brings its own set of new processes and new work methods. So, if you want your employees to benefit most from your ERP, you’ll have to give them the tools to do so with the proper training.
Yes, the training will truly guarantee the success of your ERP. Ideally, you’ll need a lot of documents. Also offer adapted training and create some custom training that addresses the specific needs of your teams. This will help you make a smooth transition and show the new benefits to everybody.
Factor #9 of success of your ERP implementation: you must also think about change
The success of your ERP implementation depends on many factors, as you can see. However, its success or failure depends also on its future. You probably know that an ERP will bring plenty of changes and new ways of doing things.
Besides reassuring your employees and helping them ease into those new changes with the training, you’ll have to think about reorganizing tasks, managing new responsibilities and eliminating others, and you’ll need to be there to accompany your teams into the transition.
Think about asking experts to help identify the challenges, issues, and solutions to reduce the impact on your team. A new tool like an ERP could cause your employees to worry about their job security and resist the implementation.
By thinking ahead, by hiring the necessary resources, and by making sure to address every apprehension and fear of your employees, you can guarantee the success of your ERP implementation!
Finally, these 9 factors of success for your ERP implementation are nothing more than a recipe for victory. I have worked with my colleagues on so many ERP projects that we know exactly what we need to guarantee your success. This list is, in some ways, a reference point for every project because it combines so many years of expertise in the field. So, use it! You’ll see. It’ll become a precious ally.