Implementing a new ERP system is a lot of work and you want everything to go as smoothly as possible.
A smooth ERP implementation is like a swan floating on a lake. From above it looks calm, serene and undisturbed. Under the water it is paddling frantically to get where it is going.
In other words, there is a lot of hard work going on to make the implementation appear so serene. In the case of the ERP project, that means the entire team is working hard to produce results. As project manager it’s your job to see that things appear calm on the surface while everyone is beavering away behind the scenes.
One of the keys to a smooth implementation is planning – a lot of planning. This starts before the project officially begins and continues right through to the end of the project.
Here are some of the steps needed to make the ERP project go smoothly.
Choose Your Team
ERP is not a one-person operation. The first thing you need to do is to put together a team to implement it.
The team should include at least one executive who is to provide high-level support. These are representatives from the area’s most effective, IT people who will help but should not lead the team such as domain experts and representatives of the vendor and consultant.
Choose your people carefully. You want people who have technical knowledge, but they also have to be able to work well with others and be respected by their fellows in the company.
Ideally, you should start pulling the team together as soon as the decision is made to go ahead with ERP.
Inventory Your Processes
The next step is to make a complete inventory of your business processes. Diagram all of them out in terms of what happens in the course of the processes.
Take your time creating this inventory since it will be the central document in the ERP implementation. It should include every process, manual and computer-assisted, that is necessary to run the business.
Make sure every process is completely described and that all variations are covered. There should be no loose ends left in the descriptions.
The best way to document a business process is with a flow chart showing how the work will move through the process and what all the possible outcomes are.
It’s important that nothing falls through the cracks and every contingency is allowed for.
It’s important that you document what actually happens as the work flows through the company. Often that workflow will not be what you think it is and in some cases it will be completely different for what you thought it was.
Prioritize Your Process Inventory
Typically you will want to change something in every process. Most of the changes will be small, but some processes will have to be completely redesigned to do what you need to do.
Plan Ahead Carefully
Work out each succeeding stage of the implementation, including who is doing what and how long it should take.
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