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 Broken processes, manual workarounds and outdated legacy systems all commonly contribute to this need to enhance current operational processes as part of an ERP implementation.
The challenge is that most companies don’t realize meaningful business process improvements after their implementations. Too many organizations fail to conduct business process reengineering in a meaningful way. Here are a few best practices to help ensure your ERP implementation leads to better business processes:
Don’t pave the cowpaths. The first step is to automate the same inefficient processes that you already have. 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 paving the cowpaths. 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.
Be sure to 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 want 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, companies fall for the ERP vendor sales message that their software will tell them 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 realize more efficient business processes. We have seen far too 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 helps ensure that your operations stay aligned with your ERP system (and vice versa), which will ultimately lead to your team getting more mileage out of your ERP investment.
Business process improvements may be rare, but companies that follow these simple best practices have proven that it is possible. With all the money most 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 initiative.
Learn more by downloading our white paper, Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation.