Mistakes at the beginning of an endeavor are notoriously difficult to fix. This is especially true of complex processes like implementing an ERP system. Errors at the beginning of the implementation can doom the project no matter how well it is executed.
Unfortunately such early mistakes are all too common in ERP implementations with often disastrous results for the project.
This is a killer. An ERP project can deliver a lot of things, but if you don’t know exactly what you want from your ERP project, you’re not likely to get it.
Before anything else carefully defines what it is you want your ERP project to accomplish. This should be a short list of two or three goals that represent the top priorities for your project. Make those items as concrete and short as possible. Keep that list in front of you as you plan for your ERP implementation. That will let you keep your efforts focused from the very beginning.
By its nature, an ERP implementation is a team effort. It’s important to assemble a strong group to work on implementation.
Choose your team carefully, both for their technical skills and the ability to work together smoothly.
While you can do an ERP project without bringing in a consultant, it is not a good idea to try. You will need someone with experience in ERP implementations to help guide you and to get you over the rough spots.
Because a consultant is central to the process. It’s important to take the time and carefully choose the right one. Evaluate potential candidates carefully, both for their experience with ERP and for their fit with your team.
An important part of a successful ERP project is business process re-engineering to streamline and rationalize the way you do things. This needs to be a ground-up effort that starts with understanding how all your processes work now and then going through and improving them.
In fact, by some accounts, most of the benefits of an ERP implementation comes from the process re-engineering. This is a vital part of the ERP process and you need to spend the time to do it right.
It’s important to start the process by looking at how things are actually done in your company, not what your procedures manual says they should be done. Documentation of business processes notoriously lags behind the actual practice and what you’re interested in is the practice, not what it says in the documentation.
An ERP implementation is a time and resource-intensive process. It’s important you budget enough for both to let the process succeed. You can skimp on the budget, but the hard fact is that the ERP implementation will take as long and cost as much as it does no matter what your budget says. Underestimating both only leads to going over budget and over schedule.
Finally, it critically imports that you have firm, continuing support for your project from the very top. Lack of ongoing support will doom an ERP project. Part of the job of the team manager is to make sure that support is there for the entire ERP effort.