Most businesses have heard horror stories about ERP software implementation. While the solutions provided by ERP systems can streamline workflow and improve data procedures, there are many companies that leap before they look and end up with wasted capital, resources and time.
Industry reports conducted by the Aberdeen Group and Gartner have found nearly three quarters of ERP projects fail to meet the goals established by the company. Implementation plans run long, cost more than expected and do not deliver the services the business was expecting.
Most problems boil down to unrealistic goals stemming from a lack of information. Approximately 50 percent of companies said they were confused by the sheer amount of ERP solutions and didn’t know how to compare services. As implementation proceeded, companies felt they did not have the resources necessary for optimum performance, felt pressured to reduce costs on the fly and felt a need to show a return on investment faster than possible.
Avoid common ERP pitfalls
Proper planning safeguards against most problems recorded by industry surveys. While every business is different, there are numerous guidelines companies can follow to ensure a smooth ERP software implementation:
- Create a committee. Somebody has to be in charge of success, and it’s even better if the responsibility is divided amongst a team. A company should start by forming an ERP system selections committee made of stakeholders from different departments
- Perform an audit. An audit of current software procedures highlights where the business is lacking. The selection committee needs to be fully aware of the company’s tech capabilities and requirements.
- Determine objectives. The committee should expressly state requirements for ERP success in writing. It’s important the company settles on achievable and measurable goals.
- Reach out to software partners. Once the committee decides on standards for success, it can reach out to providers to request information. Requests should be complete with the list of requirements and projected budget.
- Narrow down options. Pare down responses to the most promising options. The committee should carefully evaluate each one. Remember there are no stupid questions; research any terms or services that aren’t understood.
- Arrange benchmarks. It’s time to create smaller standards for success. The committee should determine what the software should demonstrate in a 2-hour sample walkthrough. List out the success factors that must be visible and send it to the potential ERP providers.
- Narrow options further. From the replies, a company should narrow their options down to two vendors and arrange onsite discovery meetings. While talking with providers one-on-one, make sure to very clearly communicate your goals and ask any questions that have come up thus far.
- Follow up with questions. The committee should reach out to potential partners anytime there is a concern or a need for further demonstrations. The ability to communicate is an important feature in a proper software partner.
- Make a selection. Once the committee gathers all necessary information, it’s time to make a decision. The choice should be fully informed and supported by the entire company. ERP implementation is most successful when the entire business is behind the project.
Choose the right ERP partner
As demonstrated above, much of the success of ERP implementation depends on locating an experienced partner ready to fulfill your specific needs. The following are tips for finding a company that suits yours:
- Seek out knowledgable partners. There are many ERP providers available, so it is important to find a service that has plenty of experience in your particular industry. The ERP consultant’s experience should be easy to find online.
- Insist on flexibility. There’s an old business saying: “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” You want to find a partner that has multiple ERP solutions with numerous features available instead of trying to adapt to a less flexible system.
- Search for implementation assistance. The company shouldn’t just sell a product, but a method of implementing the solution into your infrastructure. During initial contact, ask about the different approaches your company could take in implementing new solutions.
- Explore demonstrations. What resources does the provider have available? Can it provide you with demonstrations? One-on-one consultants? See what options they advertise and be sure to ask about the materials they offer that set them apart from competitors.
- Educate yourself. Going into a project with plenty of information is key to success, so an ERP consultant should have plenty of educational materials available including conferences, user groups and webinars.
- Invest in strong relationships. Are you comfortable communicating with the ERP partner? Do they have an inviting corporate culture? You want to find a provider you can talk to and work with for an extended period of time. Choose a partner that is invested in your success.
By keeping these tips in mind, businesses can better undertake an ERP implementation project and rise above any potential challenges.