Enterprise resource planning (ERP) can help your company plan, systematize, and regulate the flow of information more productively and efficiently. But, ERP implementations can often be frustrating, leaving many project managers feeling like they’re wasting their time.
At the beginning of any ERP project, you must consider many issues and concerns. Prerequisites to an actual ERP project may include:
When undertaking a project of substantial size and importance, failing to make a plan all but guarantees its failure. Too often, organizations jump into a project too quickly, without taking the time to ensure that a vendor understands their needs and requirements or verifying that all the points of their project plan have been met. Spending the extra time now to ensure that everything is done correctly means spending less time addressing issues and fixing problems in the future.
When your company makes the decision to launch an ERP project, the first step is to create an expert team dedicated to the success of that project. Your ERP project team should consist of a project leader and several team members. These team members should be key individuals, such as department heads, long-time employees, or employees who have had previous experience with system implementation. This team will act in the company’s best interest and will be responsible for all aspects of the project. They should be given sufficient time and support to ensure that they can complete the project on time to increase the chances of success.
This step contains a few tasks, each just as important as the next. Procure a vendor after you have created your budget and completed the necessary financial evaluations and negotiations with various potential ERP vendors. Don’t settle on anything, yet, though. First, be sure to take part in any available product demos, check references, and open discussions to ensure that any potential vendor is equipped to handle your business and customization needs. The last task in this step is to procure a reputable vendor by signing on the dotted line.
Next is the project kick-off presentation. To obtain support from upper management, build momentum for the project, and boost the team’s morale, the ERP project manager should organize a presentation. This presentation should include:
The success of the ERP project depends on support from upper management. A thorough kick-off presentation is a sure way to obtain that much-needed support.
Depending on the nature of the team and the familiarity of the individual team members, it may be necessary to allow a few days to determine the qualities of each member before assigning specific roles. It may also be necessary to partake in discussions about leadership, a chain of command, business process, etiquette, project management structure, and decision-making models to ensure that all members are working in a unified manner.
The most important step is making a decision and starting the project. There will be several other important steps along the way, but when your team and upper management are satisfied with the chosen vendor, ERP features, and outlined plan, it’s time to take that leap of faith and start the implementation. Taking too long to make a decision is often just as damaging to your company as making a decision too quickly.
The process of selecting and implementing an ERP solution is not only time-consuming but can be costly and lead to a lot of frustration for everyone involved. These five steps are by no means a complete list of what goes into an ERP project, but following them ensures that your business is moving in the right direction and increases the likelihood of a successful implementation.