Experts in ERP and change management share their tips on how to choose and deploy an ERP system to maximize your investment. Plus, they outline steps you can take to improve the chances of workers will actually use the software.
Deploying an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is an expensive proposition, not just in terms of licensing dollars (SLA) and maintenance, but in terms of dedicated resources and time. And yet all too often, organizations, dazzled by vendor promises and hype — Deploy our ERP software and your manufacturing business will instantly run smoother and increase profits! — fail to come up with a viable long-term (or even short-term) roadmap.
So to help organizations increase the odds of a successful ERP deployment, with the help of dozens of ERP and change management experts, we came up with an ERP selection and implementation tip sheet. Here are nine tips on how to choose an ERP software solution and successfully deploy it.
1. Get upper management support. “Companies that tend to struggle the most [with ERP] are the ones that lack upper management level involvement,” says Daniele Fresca director of Marketing, IQMS, a provider of industry-specific ERP solutions. “Resources at the lower level tend to not be edicated and engaged with the implementation project without senior level involvement,” she says. That said, “executives don’t need to get to the point of knowing every single configuration detail. But [they need to] be aware of the issues that are causing delays to the project.”
2. Make a clear and extensive list of requirements before you start looking at vendors. “Begin by carefully defining the scope of your project,” says Ed Talerico, director, Industry & Solution Strategy, Infor, a provider of enterprise applications. “Focus on specific business processes and system requirements. The more specific you can be upfront, the more detailed your vendors can be in their proposals.”
“If you get one thing right, make it the up-front requirements gathering process,” says Brian Shannon, principal business process management architect, Dolphin Enterprise Solutions. “Few things derail project budgets and timelines as the ‘assumptive’ or absent requirements.” So make sure you engage with end users, IT and senior management.
“Too often, people select an ERP system based on factors such as price, current technology buzz or the system that is the flashiest,” adds Fresca. “But without a good fit, companies are left with expensive customization and bolted together solutions,” she notes. The solution: “Find an ERP system that is industry-specific, with tools and features designed to solve your business requirements. The ROI and long-term benefits of a good fitting system are extensive.”
3. Don’t forget mobile users. “As mobility and BYOD increase across industries, accessing ERP systems from desktops only is no longer an option,” says Ilan Paretsky, vice president of Marketing, Ericom Software, a provider of access, virtualization and RDP acceleration solutions. Choose an ERP solution that “allows users to be productive on smartphones and tablets.” Yet at the same time will ensure that sensitive information is secure.