For many companies we help implement enterprise systems for, the goal is to limit customization and leverage the ERP system’s “vanilla” out-of-the-box functionality as much as possible. However, even if an organization has identified a system that is a very close fit to what it is trying to achieve as an organization, a new ERP system will inevitably require changes to business processes, job roles, and organizational structures.
So how does an organization close the gap between the “as-is” way of doing things and the future “to-be” processes of new ERP software.
First, it is important to conduct a thorough gap analysis as part of an overall process and organizational analysis. This step entails identifying how exactly the software will be used in the context of how an organization conducts business. Modern enterprise software is generally very flexible and can be set up any number of ways, so it is up to the client to define how the business processes and workflows should be set up.
Second, once these business processes and workflows are defined in the new ERP system, key stakeholders and employees need to conduct a “Day In the Life” (some refer to it as a Conference Room Pilot) and follow a new customer through order fulfillment through collection of cash. This should be done in multiple iterations to ensure kinks in the process have been ironed out, issues have been addressed, and key business process decisions have been made.
After the detailed process definition and simulation takes place, then it is much easier to conduct training in a way that is tailored to each function’s specific workflows. Training, communications, and organizational change management activities should leverage the findings and changes identified during the process and organizational gap analysis to communicate key changes to employees.
A big part of the challenge of ERP implementations is related to business processes and people, not the software itself. The above actions help address some of the challenges and focus ERP project teams on defining streamlined business processes so there are no surprises during go-live.