10 Tips on Improving Your ERP Strategy
Enterprise relationship planning, or ERP, is by no means a ‘piece of cake’ to implement. Horror stories abound about failed installations, unresponsive vendors, and wasted investments. ERP can indeed be complicated, however many organizations can’t find themselves able to function without it— It’s used anywhere from the optimization of inventory management to the organization of accounts payable. Despite the ubiquity of ERP among many organizations, it can still be difficult to grow your business with the right ERP tools. Thus, when wanting to implement a new ERP system, it’s important that it efficiently brings together different aspects of your back office for greater insight into business processes.
Today’s ERP offerings are still convoluted, but smaller companies especially have more choices in ERP solutions designed for their requirements. In order to implement ERP effectively, you should remember to stay close with your vendor in order to have easy access to customizations and configurations, choose the right delivery and access model for your business, and of course, use this list as a guide!
1. Focus on the ways ERP can optimize your business processes.
You must first know exactly how your business operates. If you have in-house human resource functions along with the need to manage products or inventory, you should totally be aware of these needs before you can identify the ERP functionality that can support your various business processes. It’s important to be open to some change, however; an ERP implementation can alter some business processes, and your organization will need to adapt its processes to match.
2. Understand your organization’s business goals and decide how ERP can support them.
ERP is intended to boost your company’s bottom line by optimizing your business processes, so it needs to be linked to your organization’s business goals. To this end, it is probably not a bad idea to integrate both your business’s CRM and ERP initiatives. It’s crucial, then, that you identify the ERP functionality — from advanced financials to supply chain management (SCM) to sales force automation (SFA) to workforce management — so it can help you attain those goals. Your ERP goals need to be specifically outlined and defined.
3. Understand your back office workflows.
Simply put, you need to know how your employees perform their jobs every day in order to maximize efficiency. These results should be gauged daily and compared to the amount of production at [the very least] the end of each week.
4. Consider Web-based ERP solutions.
Everybody’s doing it! Most notably SAP, Microsoft, and Sage have moved into the cloud and now offer full-featured hosted ERP solutions that are delivered via the Internet. If an on-premise solution is not available to you because of limitations in IT staff, SaaS might be actually be a better option for you.
5. Involve employees from IT and the departments impacted by ERP in the implementation.
It’s important that everyone is on the same page – not just the people physically installing the new system. Furthermore, since many departments within an organization are affected by ERP, it’s good to have a consistency in understanding among employees. It is important for the people who use ERP on a day-to-day basis to also be a part of the implementation process as they can provide feedback on how to optimize system functionality.
6. Dedicate members of your IT staff to your ERP implementation.
Even if you’re working with a vendor to install an ERP solution, you should have some employees focused only on the implementation. Needless to say, your vendor probably won’t be around as constantly as your employees, and it never hurts to have some extra brains around in case of a system failure. This is why it’s also important to frequently back up your data!
7. Full ERP implementation rarely happens overnight
Be patient. Most ERP deployments take several months or even a year to be fully implemented — Yikes?! No, don’t fret; this timeframe is typical for most ERP modules in midsized-to-large businesses but not necessarily indicative of small business ERP implementations. ERP systems should be installed in phases, one at a time, and must be methodically tested.
8. Limit customization of the ERP solution.
There are so many ERP solutions available that you’ll surely find one that matches your organization’s business processes. While some customization is typically necessary, remember that the less you need to customize the solution, the easier it will be to maintain and upgrade, particularly if your current IT staff changes.
9. Budget for training.
Most modern software is so user-friendly that most people can boot up and go. ERP is unfortunately not like most modern software. Luckily, there are places like us that offer On-Demand training for many Sage ERP products. These feature tutorials, how-tos and other whitepapers.
10. Prepare data for the migration earlier rather than later.
Business data is at the heart of every ERP solution, and it must be migrated from your legacy databases to the new ERP software. To be effective in the system, data must be accurate, complete, and consistent — that means cleaning it before migration. Start cleaning your data early in the implementation and create data entry standards that will be in place by the time the system is live.
For an overview of the Sage ERP family, check out this product portfolio.