Investing in a new ERP system is a critical decision to make and and if your project does not succeed it can influence your business really hard.
So how do you make sure it goes right and that you achieve what you want with your new system? I will try to list 10 of the most important things you need to think about in order to launch and complete a successful ERP project.
Many of you will probably expect to find – “Choosing the right system” – as no. 1 on the list. But I have chosen not to cover that topic in this article. And I have a bias here anyway all the time that I am working with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. So if you are in the small and mid size segment I definitely think you should consider Business Central as one of your options.
- Make sure your project gets a commitment from your top management.
It is important that the message from the top management is that they are 100% behind the project. If the organization is sensing that the top management have doubts about your ERP project they will also start having doubts.
- Define the success criteria for your project.
When you plan and start your project you should have a clear idea about why you want to invest in a new ERP system and what you want to get out of the projects. You should define criteria that are measurable so you have chance to see if your criteria have been meet or not during and after you project. One example of this can be that you want a new system because you want to be able to process a 10% increase in your sales volume with out an increase in your staff. Another one can be that you have your project to give you a minimum 5% decrease in your IT spending.
- Be open to adjust your business processes to match the functionality of the system.
If you are looking for a new system that works exactly like your old system does, then why switch your system at all? Make sure your organization is open to adopt new ways of working so you do not end up customizing your system to be a copy of the old system.
- Make sure your project organization have mandate to make decisions.
The people you appoint to be a part of the project organizations needs to have a clear mandate to make decisions on behalf of the project. If the project group constantly needs to seek approval outside the project organization it will have a tremendous impact on the progress of your project.
- Move your system to a cloud based service as soon as you can.
If you invest in a new ERP system today and decide not to go for a cloud based version of the system then you need to make sure you really have very good reasons for your choice. The benefits of running a system that is constantly updated to latest version is great. The times of having to do major upgrades to your locally installed ERP systems should be over. Make sure this ERP system is your last major upgrade project.
- Make sure you have an integration strategy in place.
We live in a time of integrated systems. Make sure you have a strategy on how you will integrate your different systems to benefit your organization. Make sure you understand why and how the systems are integrated. Move to API based integrations where you can.
- Have a clear understand of the impact 3. party solutions have on your implementation.
If part of your new solution is based on a 3. party solution, it is important that you know what will happen to that solution if anything happens to the company behind the solution or to your partner.
- Train your organization properly.
Make sure you do proper training of people, especially those who needs to do their job in a different way than why they have been used to. Well trained people gets less frustrated when they have to face new challenges in a new system.
- Remember that everything does not have to be perfect before you can go live.
Today we are used to systems getting updated all the time. So instead of aiming at the perfect system from day one you should make sure that you have the most critical processes in place and than build the system from there. In many projects organizations spend a lot of resources on having customization developed before they go live, only to find out after a while that many of the modifications are never used. Use the system for a while before you request to many modification from your implementation partner.
- Have a clear reporting strategy.
Many businesses invest in new system to be able to expand their business and to get a better understanding of their own business. To get the information needed to be able to use your system as a management tool you need to make sure you get reliable reports out of your system. Some of the worst things that can happen after investing in a new system is that your management teams looks at different measures and reports to get a view of the business. There are plenty of examples where that have happen and the management team end up spending time to discuss who have the right figures in their reports instead of spending time on improving your business.