3 Best Practices for ERP Implementation
So you’ve been thinking that the time has come for your retail business to take the next step: an ERP. You already know all the benefits you stand to gain: a more efficient business, a better end product, and of course, a happier customer. However, as tempting as it may be to dream of the day when everything is up and running, the reality is that it’s going to take some time and effort before that day comes to fruition.
To make the transition a bit easier, we’ve made a list of the 3 best practices your business must follow in order to achieve a successful (and relatively painless) ERP implementation.
- Understand business processes and major requirements to demonstrate ROI to key executives
Though it may seem obvious, it’s necessary to spend time at the beginning analyzing the needs of your business; what your priorities are and where you may need specialized support or customization. To simplify this, many industry-specific ERPs have emerged with capabilities that allow them to thrive in certain environments. By thoroughly understanding your business requirements now, choosing the right ERP will be much easier and you can avoid having to make expensive and time-consuming changes down the line. Not to mention being able to take advantage of features that will meet the specific needs of your industry - such as merchandising or POS management in a retail environment.
Choosing the right ERP is the first step to demonstrating value, and with value we can create a positive ROI. Being able to demonstrate this greatly improves the odds of getting key executives on board with such a major change, especially as 46% of CIOs surveyed claiming that the case to change was ‘not compelling’ enough to make the switch . To demonstrate ROI, it is necessary to assess your existing performance against what would be anticipated post-implementation based on quantifiable KPIs. This also will greatly help when creating your RFQ and ERP implementation plans when these days arrive - leading to clearer expectations from the start.
- Focus on resources, management, and extensive planning from the beginning
Planning extensively for the people, time, and financial requirements that you are aware of will help you to be more prepared when the unexpected occurs. Plan for risk management and mitigation. For data cleansing and migration. For testing. For days when things go wrong and for days when things go right. Getting this right from the start will help you to avoid initial inefficiencies and ‘growing pains’ down the line as things become more integrative. For those who also have compliance factors to consider, this is essential, as it helps to ensure that the existing data that you have will remain accessible whenever it needs to be.
When making a major change such as this, there will always be some debate about where and how to allocate your resources - human, financial or otherwise. As ERP implementation is an inherently complex process, it is essential to communicate with your internal teams to find out if anyone has a background or any experience in such events and consider reallocating as necessary. Working together with the right external partner here is key, as their knowledge of the implementation process and the RFQ will be essential to staying on track and minimizing data loss and disruption.
- Invest in Training and Change Management
Did you know that one of the biggest barriers to implementation is the resistance to change, with 82% of CIO respondents surveyed citing it a problem . As there will likely be some insecurity towards a new ERP, keeping employees engaged and providing the opportunity for their feedback is essential for a smoother transition. It is also important to consider the cultural impact of such a change - particularly if employees aren’t used to the degree of tracking and visibility often associated with an ERP. However, the positives associated with an ERP, such as automation of certain processes or better data availability can be used to generate excitement around the shift, rather than anxiety.
Getting your employees on board with the decision to change isn’t enough though, there must be initial and ongoing training and support to ensure that they are confident and prepared to get the most out of the system. The partner that you’ve selected for your implementation is a wealth of knowledge in this sense also, and should be seen as an excellent resource for your employees to help speed up their acclimation to the ERP. Scheduling regular meetings between internal project members and your implementation partner will greatly help to improve communication and catch any misunderstandings early on.
You may also find that with an ERP in place you may need to make some organizational changes with regards to the different tasks assigned to different people. When done properly, an ERP should eliminate a number of tasks from your employees’ daily lives, meaning it may be necessary to reallocate resources to handle where human involvement is still necessary. By assessing your employees’ attitude and experience with ERPs prior to the transition, you can get a better understanding of what to expect once it has been complete.
Many factors to ERP implementation success lie in thorough planning, preparing for the unexpected, and maintaining open lines of communication before, during, and after the process. Celebrating ‘small victories’ along the way with employees and your implementation team can help to make the entire transition a smoother and more positive experience involved - especially if the going gets a little tough at times.
If you’ve decided that time has come for an ERP for your retail business but you’re unsure of where to start, make sure to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your complimentary consultation.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Systems Limited, or any other entity related to Systems Limited.