Is your company interested in implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software? As with any new software system, some degree of planning must go into successful ERP implementation to tackle its complexities. We’ll cover the six steps you should follow for a smoother deployment below.
What is an ERP system and how does it work?
ERP refers to enterprise resource planning, a type of software used to manage all everyday business activities from a central system. These activities can include accounting, project management, sales quoting, production, supply chain operations, human resources, and more. Benefits of ERP include a higher level of company productivity and improved efficiency, but development and deployment can take several months to get it right. This is because a comprehensive ERP system will support so many different functions, with all the associated data from each department.
Additional benefits of ERP include:
Integrated data across departments
Reduce manual paperwork and redundant data entry
More secure data storage
Improved customer satisfaction
ERP System implementation: the steps
To successfully implement ERP, you’ll need a methodical approach from planning to deployment and training. Though processes may differ by industry and individual company, here are six general steps to follow as you get started.
As with any new project, your business must start with a planning phase. In these initial stages you should research the best ERP systems out there and pull together a project team. The team will create a roadmap to follow, including objectives, target dates, and resources needed. For large companies, the ERP project team will typically include a project manager as well as a representative from each department (accounting, human resources, etc.) to ensure the ERP system meets everyone’s needs. You’ll also need IT specialists and an executive or management sponsor. At the conclusion of the planning stage, the team should have a clear idea of what it wants to accomplish along with relevant KPIs to track.
After outlining project objectives and timelines, the next stage involves design. Your team can get more specific with precise goals along the way, creating workflows that will be implemented into the new system. To successfully implement ERP, each department should have a say in how the design will work. They’re the workers on the ground who will be best placed to identify problems in need of solutions. This can be accomplished with the assistance of an implementation partner or ERP supplier.
It’s now time to take these design requirements and put them to work with the help of a professional software development team. The best ERP systems are fully customizable and can be integrated with existing applications as needed. At this stage of the ERP implementation process, the software developers can work on creating user training manuals and tutorials to assist with rollout. The project team will also need to start planning for full data migration, determining which data should be moved over to the new system and which is irrelevant.
ERP system implementation should involve constant testing and feedback at every step of the process. You’ll identify any problems before they’re locked into the new system, guiding the workflows and processes. The team can test individual features and modules as each is developed, providing feedback regarding what works best. Most ERP vendors offer training tools for pre- and post-deployment.
With the system now designed, developed, and tested, it’s finally time for deployment. Rollout can be in stages, or you can choose a date for the full system to go live. Either way, make sure your support team is on hand to help answer questions and assist with unexpected bugs during the rollout. Even the best-planned ERP system implementation involves some troubleshooting as you bring all departments on board.
The ERP implementation process doesn’t end with deployment. In addition to requesting and implementing another round of feedback, you should factor in ongoing training to bring all your employees up to speed. This will also need to be used when new employees join your company. Dedicate a support team to keep the systems maintained and upgraded as necessary.
To implement ERP successfully, communication should be at the heart of your processes. This ensures your team derives maximum benefit from the new system, making workflows more efficient.
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