When I meet clients before starting an ERP implementation, I always think about this time when my friends lied to me about the difficulty of a hike that we were going to do together. Between rock climbing without a harness, moments when I was out of breath, and the two or three episodes where I truly thought I wouldn’t make it alive, I was thinking that I would have preferred to be aware of what to expect that day.
This is why I’ve decided to be honest with the companies I work with. Not because it’s impossible to implement an ERP and that we won’t survive. On the contrary: because, when we want to succeed, it’s essential to be well prepared for the issues and challenges of an ERP implementation.
And it’s also the reason why I have decided to prepare this list of 6 solutions to the problems and challenges of an ERP implementation. Because we have to say it, there are many. To give you an idea, here is a non-exhaustive list:
- Implementing can be complex if the parameters have not been well determined or are too dynamic, or the project is not well managed
- Heavy and strict implementation
- The team has difficulty using it
- A good knowledge of the enterprise is essential
- It’s essential to adapt some processes of the organization or the enterprise to the software
- Ongoing maintenance is necessary
- The solution can be difficult to change: the company is often stuck with the structure of the chosen solution
A bit dizzy? I was a little bit when I faced the mountain for the first time, too. However, you need to know there’s not one challenge or issue that is insurmountable (as I learned that day), and even if there’s no miracle solution, these 6 practical tips will give you the best chance for success and prepare you for an ERP implementation.
ERP implementation issues and challenges #1: Establish (or clarify) your organization’s business goals
As you already know, an ERP is an incredibly powerful tool that’ll help you ensure your business profitability, optimize your business processes, and support your team with their daily tasks. However, in order to actually do this, it’s necessary to have an ERP system that’s intimately linked both to your business goals and also your processes.
To get there, you’ll need to sit down with your team to analyze your strategic plan, your short-term and long-term goals while examining your needs. These discussions will help you figure out which solution is best for you and your organization.
This is why it’s essential to know your organization, its goals, and also its needs in terms of processes. It’s not for nothing that this is our number 1!
ERP implementation issues and challenges #2: Focus on the ways your ERP will be able to optimize your business processes
As explained earlier, the ERP will take charge of your different business processes to optimize your organization, so it can be its very best. However, to get there and to be able to choose the best ERP, you need to know the way your business works. Sounds easy?
Look closely at every process, its components, needs and weaknesses or strengths. You’ll get a better idea of what your ERP can bring to you and your business. This way, your ERP will be able to adapt to your methods with its specific modalities or personalized functions.
However, you’ll need to keep in mind that it’s possible, for the good of the organization, that your ERP will have a certain impact on your processes. Its internal operation might ask for you to rethink or modify some of your ways of working to benefit from its maximum potential.
ERP implementation issues and challenges #3: Make sure to understand the back stage
An ERP affects the smallest details of your daily work, and it’ll greatly influence your employee’s life, it’s essential to know well not only your goals, and business processes, but also all the procedures that fill your day with your team. To sum all this up, an ERP will impact your work, the financial core of your business, your supply chain, stocks, human resources, and so much more.
And if an ERP is that indiscrete, it’s because it takes your productivity and your needs in terms of efficiency seriously, and it’s making sure nothing is left unseen. So make sure to choose and implement an ERP that’s at the height of your daily work, there is no other option other than to know how your employees accomplish their work every day and how they use apps, and figure out if they should be integrated in the ERP solution to better support them.
As you can see, one of the biggest ERP implementation challenges and issues is to find that one-in-a-million solution that will suit your company, serve its interests, and help in the most difficult times. An ERP is, after all, an ally. To make sure you’re using its full potential, it has to know your organization from head to toe.
ERP implementation issues and challenges #4: Plan training (and a budget accordingly)
Another big ERP implementation issue is definitely its success rate in an enterprise. As you can see, it’s a system that ‘s everywhere in your company, and if it doesn’t suit your organization and its processes, there’s a big chance that your employees will reject its usage.
In fact, while an ERP can be an incredible ally to lighten your business processes and optimize your efficiency, if it’s not right or not well adapted, it can be a real obstacle for you. How to prevent this?
First, by making sure to meticulously complete the first 3 steps, but also by preparing yourself for the software’s arrival. Your team will need to perfectly understand the functions, applications, and processes of the ERP in order to use it to its full potential, but also to avoid daily frustrations.
This is why we believe that it’s essential to have a training plan and a budget even before starting the implementation to guarantee a seamless transition and increase the chance of adoption of the software.
By reminding yourself that the project will require a learning curve and by providing all the necessary tools to your team and the proper information for them to accomplish their work with the ERP, you will breeze through the ERP implementation challenges and issues.
The ERP implementation issues and challenges #5: Prepare your data for migration, and the sooner the better
We can never stress this enough, but your data is just one of the elements (if not THE element) that’s the most important for your company. All the information about your client’s accounts, your order history, sales volume, inventory, invoices, taxes (and so much more), are essential for you to operate as a business.
Without them, it’s impossible to work. Let’s face it. So when you have to implement an ERP, it’s important to think about the data migration to your new software because they are at the center of it.
You’ll have to migrate your data from your existing database to your new ERP software. Simple? Not really. Different from a file transfer from your computer to your cloud, the data that you’ll have to manage contains sensitive information, weighs a lot and cannot be rebuilt in a couple of hours. This is why you’ll need a solid methodology, and a good back up, too.
First, to make sure your new system will be efficient, your data will have to be exact, complete, and coherent, which means that you will have to do a little bit of clean up before the big data migration. And after that, you’ll have to put in place norms and procedures for data entry so you’re ready to face the new system once it’s officially implemented and up and running.
6. Be supported by an ERP partner or integrator
The road to ERP implementation can be difficult and lonely if you haven’t had the experience of a process like this in the past. And since you need to keep up with your work while the implementation is happening, you’ll be better with a trustworthy team player by your side to face the ERP implementation challenges and issues with you.
An ERP partner or integrator isn’t just there to support you throughout the implementation process, but it’s there especially to carry out the mission. By having the experience of many implementations with similar projects, by knowing all the ERP implementation challenges and issues, and by anticipating the difficult times ahead, your partner or integrator will know how to guide you and your team toward a successful implementation.
Besides, they’ll be your ally in the technical field and will keep the essence of your company, its needs, its expectations, and operational reality in mind to make sure that your project is a triumph, and nothing less!
Are you feeling better about the issues and challenges of an ERP implementation? Because planning, preparation, and expert support make all the difference in a situation like this one. We can never stress enough that an ERP is a major investment for your future, and its implementation should never be an obstacle. This is why it’s essential to be prepared for the issues and challenges of ERP implementation.