ERP success- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solutions were once the exclusive domain of large businesses.
But time have changed, and now small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly turning to ERP systems to streamline and improve their business processes.
However, implementing an ERP system in an SME is a different proposition than doing so in a large business, for a handful of reasons. One of the most significant is that SMEs generally work under tight budgets, leaving little room for error when selecting and rolling out an ERP solution. Another difference is that SMEs simply have few employees, which translates to less specialized expertise in certain areas, which can be crucial to implementing an ERP system.
Despite these specific challenges, SMEs can effectively and efficiently implement an ERP solution and begin to enjoy the day-to-day benefits such a system brings. To achieve success with their ERP system implementation, SMEs must observe the following guidelines.
Effectively Planning the Project
It’s no exaggeration to say that most companies that have failed with their ERP implementation can trace the failure back to the planning phase. The decisions made before the implementation begins are essential to setting the business up to succeed with implementing the ERP system.
The planning phase should establish a solid foundation on which to build the entire implementation. It should cover areas ranging from choosing the ERP solution best suited to your needs from the host of offerings on the market, to selecting the features and possible customizations you desire, to ironing out all the details of how the project will be implemented.
Outlining Business Requirements
Every business is unique, and a good ERP system should be tailored to an individual business’ needs and goals. To implement an ERP system, you’ll need to get a sense for what features your business will require. You’ll need to envision how your users will interact with the system on a daily basis, and what functionality they’ll need for the ERP system to improve their processes.
ERP solutions can offer anything from an out-of-the-box system to dizzying array of customizable features, and you’ll need to determine what configuration fits your business needs. It’s ideal for you to draw up concrete workflows and strategize as to how the ERP system can integrate with the daily operations and activities of your business.
You’ll also need to make choices as to whether you’ll choose an ERP system that will be installed on your premises within the hardware your business owns, or to use one of the increasingly popular cloud-based ERP systems. A number of ERP software providers even offer hybrid ERP solutions, with a mix of both on-premise and cloud-based features. You can read more on how on-premise and cloud-based ERP solutions work here.
Establishing a Project Plan
At this point you’ve exhaustively diagrammed your business needs and how to fulfill them. Now you’ll want to work with your ERP software provider to establish a clear project plan covering the implementation from start to finish, and beyond. This plan should have concrete objectives and goals, and measures in place for monitoring your progress.
You should have provisions in place for testing along the way, and a plan for dealing with any issues or setbacks in a timely manner before the system actually goes live.
Finally, your project plan should give you a roadmap for your post-implementation needs. Too many businesses plan carefully up to the point where the system is live and expect everything past then to take care of itself. But sadly, this isn’t usually the case. You’ll want to have a plan for support and maintenance, as well as clear assignments for your in-house information technology (IT) staff, which will be responsible for ERP system support. Carefully review the terms of the software and implementation provider so that there are no misunderstandings down the line.