An ERP project is no small undertaking. It requires strategic planning, a thorough software selection, proactive data management, and a variety of other critical success factors.

If you’re just beginning this journey, it helps to have a basic overview of each of these components. Here’s some ERP advice for organizations in any phase of the ERP project lifecycle.

Tips for the Software Selection Phase

When you decide to pursue an ERP implementation, you may be surprised to find how many software solutions on the market. Here are a few tips to help you succeed at ERP software selection.

Know Your “Why” and Your “How”

Before you begin comparing different types of ERP software, determine exactly why your organization needs an ERP platform.

Are you ready to transform your manual efforts and streamline your back-office processes? Do you want to make your teams more productive and improve communication to cut down on departmental siloes?

In any case, the first task is to assemble a dedicated project team. Together, these employees, managers, and stakeholders will build a business case for your project, work to achieve organizational alignment, and create assignments to ensure everything stays on track.

Once your project team is in place, build an ERP selection team to support it. These employees will assist your project team members with selection-specific tasks, such as attending vendor demos and gathering software requirements.

It’s important to have a resource on your selection team who has ERP experience. They will remain vendor-neutral throughout the process and can help you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each option.

Selection & Process Improvement Case Study

In helping the client get its project back on track, one of our primary focus areas was decreasing their customization needs by improving their processes to align with the system's best practices.

Determine Your Requirements

Once your teams are in place, the next step is to determine what you need the system to do. If you’re new to the ERP realm, the easiest and most effective way to do this is to perform business process mapping of your current workflows.

This exercise works as it sounds. Go through each department and illustrate the chain of command, describing how reporting works, and how data is exchanged at every point. As you do so, it becomes easier to see where potential problems are happening. You may notice how wires can get crossed, miscommunication can occur, and pain points can arise. Then, think about how you’d like the ERP system to correct these issues.

This step is called business process reengineering. You’re not looking to create new processes from scratch at this phase, but rather perfect and correct the ones you’re currently using.

In addition to this step, you can also gather requirements by talking to others within your organization, such as your subject matter experts, or SMEs. As you gather thoughts and opinions, it’s important for everyone to have the opportunity to voice their ideas. However, your project team has the ultimate say in which ones become official business requirements.

Plan Your Data Strategy

You could have the best ERP system in the world, but if your data strategy isn’t up to par, you won’t notice an improvement once you go live. In fact, you might find that operations are even more difficult to carry out.

Chances are, your data is currently spread among various systems. Create a plan that explains how to gather it, cleanse it thoroughly, and migrate it into the ERP system.

While your data should be ready before implementation, ERP vendors will rarely clean and organize it for you. Allocate plenty of time and money to this phase, as it usually winds up costing more and taking longer than teams anticipate.

Know What to Prioritize

As you build a list of potential ERP vendors, there are certain features to keep in mind. Here are the top criteria to consider:

• ERP industry experience
• Project cost
• Vendor reputation
• Vendor viability
• Scalability

Schedule ERP demos to learn about each solution. The final phases include negotiating with vendors and setting realistic expectations around what the project will entail.

Succeeding With ERP Implementation

Once you’ve chosen your ERP vendor, you’re ready to start implementing the system that will bring you real business growth. There are six phases in this process.

Phase 1: Plan

Don’t discount the importance of a robust planning phase. Review the business requirements and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you set during ERP selection and make sure they’re still realistic, measurable, and relevant. Make any necessary changes, and make sure everyone agrees on the updates.

Phase 2: Design

In the design phase, create a blueprint for how the ERP project will go. When you defined your requirements earlier, you hadn’t nailed down a vendor yet. Now that you have one in place, you can fine-tune those requirements to meet the software’s specs.

Share your blueprint with your ERP vendor and make sure their system possesses the right functionality to make it work.

Phase 3: Build

During the build phase, your project team and vendor take your requirements and configure the ERP software to meet them. Along the way, they’ll conduct unit test cases to make sure everything is working as expected. This helps them catch bugs in the code early on, so bigger issues don’t arise down the road.

Phase 4: Test​

There are many types of testing that need to occur during your implementation, including:

• Process testing
• Systems integration testing
• User acceptance testing
• Performance testing

The main factor to check is the percentage of passing cases that you achieve. You want to eliminate all bugs ASAP, so they don’t interfere with your go-live date.

Phase 5: Deploy

The deploy phase is about preparing your production environment. Create a solid cutover plan that details exactly how you’ll move away from the existing systems and take the new ERP platform live.

This is also the time to focus on final end-user training, ensuring that everyone knows how to use the system. Frequent training is a critical part of organizational change management (OCM) and helps reduce workplace resistance.

Phase 6: Optimize​

Your implementation doesn’t stop once you go live. When real users are actively using the system, this is the best time to perform performance benchmarking. Analyze what’s working and what isn’t, and put steps in place to monitor and improve operations.

Put This ERP Advice Into Practice

With this ERP advice, you can confidently move forward with your project and build a strong foundation for lasting success.

At Panorama Consulting, we know what it takes to achieve a successful ERP implementation. From the very first phases to the final cutover, go-live, and beyond, we’re your trusted partners in digital transformation.

Contact one of our ERP consultants below to learn more about the services we can provide to help you on this journey!

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