Manufacturing organizations seeking an effective ERP implementation process are usually measured on key criteria such as initial expense of the ERP system; time and resources needed for education; time and resources required for data conversion and go live; ongoing operating or maintenance costs, return on investment; and time to value.
It is our experience that the ERP implementation process should focus on related, but just as critical, business metrics such as disruptions in operations, impact on productivity and level of ERP adoption across the enterprise.
Unfortunately, there are many horror stories of failed ERP implementations, cost over-runs, time delays, disruptions in operations and worse. One doesn’t have to look far to find news of vendor lawsuits, nightmare implementations and other horror stories.
Since an ERP implementation impacts almost every aspect of a company, the success of an ERP implementation is of the utmost importance.
Strategies for an Effective ERP Implementation Process
We’ve found that a strategic approach helps reduce the chance of implementation problems. The idea is to effectively manage complexity, risk, and data integration challenges.
Whether a manufacturing organization is switching to a completely new system or undergoing a major upgrade, here are some key factors to keep in mind:
- Integrate ERP Implementation and Change Management: Change management is a key part of process improvement, and therefore a key part of a ERP implementation. Does the implementation process include development of a change management plan?
- Emphasize ERP Implementation Education: One of the most critical strategies in an implementation process is to deliver effective ERP education. All process owners must become “ERP experts” in their own right for a successful implementation and go live. A thorough ERP education helps with ERP adoption and effectiveness in the years to come.
- Collaborate for Design and Configuration: This area needs full involvement from both the manufacturer and vendor team when designing and configuring the system to meet specific business requirements.
- Map Out Data Conversion: This strategy involves a thorough review of the current state and the development of the future state of the business. It’s critical to map a data strategy for the conversion of data files, both current and historical.
- Test for Quality Control: Designing an effective Development/Test phase for extensive testing of the new system in conference room pilot environments is critical.
- Plan for Deployment and Go-Live: The final deploy and go-live only takes place after thoroughly managing and tracking the pilot, tests, data migration/integration and fixes or customizations and other pre-deployment phases. Focus on user instruction, user documentation and training with the entire user community. Plan all the “cutover” activities, and revises as needed to minimize disruptions to the operation.
The True Goal
All in all, the ERP implementation process is all about keeping an eye on the true goal line: business process improvement.
All too often ERP implementation teams lose sight of the true goals of the project yielding to the desire to “just get it implemented.” A more strategic approach keeps everyone’s attention on driving business process improvement that drives business performance improvement.
An Additional Resource
For further insight into an effective implementation process, download the free white paper ERP Implementation Best Practices.
Please share any ERP process “lessons learned” in the comments below.