Most organizations implement new ERP systems largely because they want to improve the efficiency of their business processes. Broken processes, manual workarounds and outdated legacy systems all contribute to the need to enhance operational processes as part of an ERP implementation.
The challenge is that many organizations don’t realize meaningful business process improvements after their ERP implementations. These organizations fail to conduct business process reengineering in a meaningful way. Here are a few best practices to ensure your ERP implementation leads to better business processes:
Don’t pave the cowpaths. When a project becomes rushed or you turn over responsibility for business processes to a technical consultant, VAR or system integrator, you are bound to fall into the trap of simply automating existing processes. Instead, take the time up front to define how your business processes should look post implementation rather than diving straight into the process of configuring and implementing the new software.
Take the time up front to define your to-be business processes. Selecting a new ERP system can be very exciting. Once the new software is identified, it can be awfully tempting to jump right into implementation. However, as noted in the first point above, taking too little time on this activity will leave business process optimization to your technical consultants.
Don’t fall into the “software will tell us how to run our business” trap. Time and time again, organizations fall for the ERP vendor sales message that software will tell you how new business processes should look. Today’s ERP systems are too robust and flexible to provide easy answers on how business processes should be run. This makes it vital to take the time to define business processes before the implementation begins. Same goes for industry pre-configurations and software best practices: they are myths that will not enable you to optimize your business processes.
Don’t forget about organizational change management. New and improved business processes don’t mean much if your employees aren’t executing the new processes. Even the best designed software in the world won’t matter if users are still reverting back to their Excel spreadsheets and manual workarounds. For this reason, organizational change management, communications and training is critical to ensuring that you design more efficient business processes. We have seen many technical consultants and project teams spend too much time configuring software, but not nearly enough time defining how those changes will impact employees and what their new roles and responsibilities should be.
Constantly improve your business processes. Business process reengineering shouldn’t be a one-time activity. Instead, it is an activity that should continue beyond go-live. Some of our most successful clients instituted centers of excellence within their organizations to help ensure that this ongoing mentality of process improvement was adhered to. This also ensures that your operations stay aligned with your ERP system (and vice versa), which will ultimately lead to your team getting more benefit out of your ERP investment. Organizations that follow these simple best practices will find that process improvement is possible. With all the money organizations spend on new ERP systems, this extra little bit of time and investment will ensure that you realize a positive ROI on your ERP implementation.