ERP implementation is considered a difficult thing to get right. According to Gartner, up to 75 percent of ERP projects fail to meet their objectives. This does not make good reading for any business about to embark on a project. Undoubtedly, selecting, designing and deploying the right solution for your business can be a difficult task, but not an impossible one.
When done well, a properly implemented ERP solution can deliver huge return on investment, enable growth and ensure future success. At Cooper Software we are experienced in implementing ERP solutions. Based on our experience, we have identified a list of eight ‘golden rules’ to follow when planning a potential ERP implementation or upgrade project.
1. Understand why you are doing the project
Often an ERP project is struggling before it even gets off the ground. An organisation, unhappy with their current system might think that a full ERP replacement project is the answer. The grass is always greener if you like. In contrast, the answer can lie in simply re-tuning their existing solution. Very often, working with what an organisation already has and refining it to meet their needs, can result in the benefits the business is looking for.
2. Create a clear vision
Once you have established that an implementation or upgrade is necessary, there must be consensus on the problems to be solved, the outcome desired and especially the level of financial resource required. A company must be clear from the outset what business processes must be addressed and the benefits the solution needs to bring.
If this is not properly agreed, controlling the scope of the project and achieving management buy-in will become a real challenge. Cooper Software’s Business Information Review is an exercise which can make establishing a vision and developing a clear structured plan much more straightforward.
3. Establish who has ownership of the project
An ERP implementation or upgrade project should be seen as a business project and not just an IT project. It is vital that key sponsors and champions at all levels within the business understand the vision and are engaged and motivated to ensure the project is a success.
4. The project team – consider your resources carefully
Underestimating how long the project will take, the costs and the resource required is probably the most common reason ERP implementations fail. It is imperative that any organisation considering an implementation or upgrade understands the level of commitment and knowledge required from internal resources.
Often there is a lack of expertise internally that can only be addressed by taking on external resource. When choosing a consultancy to partner with you to facilitate the project, make sure to select one that understands your business, fits with your culture and fully comprehends and believes in what you are looking to achieve.
Use consultants from accredited partners of the ERP solution you have chosen, as these consultants will have been extensively trained, have a support network in place and be able to access to the proper tools and documentation. Agree upfront the commitment of consultants in terms of their role, the number of consultants required and the time they need to commit to the project.
5. Be mindful of customisations
When it comes to customising an ERP solution, it is broadly agreed that these can enhance an implementation. However, caution should be exercised. Too many can hamper the project but failure to implement any at all can mean the solution isn’t meeting your needs. Any customisations have to be properly identified, justified, implemented and managed.
6. Test, test, test
Testing the developed solution, prior to full implementation is very much seen as the responsibility of the client. However, without expert knowledge, how can you be sure your solution is tested properly? At Cooper Software, our project implementation methodology is created in such a way so as to give thought to testing. We can advise on and work with our clients to facilitate this and help to deliver a successful outcome.
7. Invest in training and post implementation support
Following an implementation or upgrade, lack of user training can result in issues. Users don’t understand the system which can result in failed adoption, leading to the overall failure of the project. Take advantage of the training and support offered by the implementation partner to ensure that the solution is widely accepted and any issues raised can be dealt with appropriately.
8. Clear communication is vital
This is vital across the project team, both internally and externally. Everyone must be working to the same end goal and processes, with clear escalation routes. As previously mentioned, having a robust plan in place at the outset of the project can ensure that the project roadmap is highly visible with clear roles, responsibilities and outcomes. It is also vital to engage with the wider business.
As stated above, an ERP implementation or upgrade should be viewed as a business project rather than a standalone IT project. Keep the entire business updated on progress, but also prepare them for change. This will ensure everyone is aware and included, leading to greater buy-in and more successful adoption of the final solution. Taking all of the above in to consideration, it is imperative to choose an ERP partner who has a proven track record, who can recommend the best fit solution for your business and who can work with you to establish a clear vision and roadmap.
Any partner must follow best practice implementation to deliver a project, helping to ensure you’re in the minority 25% who succeed.