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Two months in and I’m convinced this is going to be a great year, as the economy is steadily bouncing back. With this promising news, VAI is already starting to see more enterprises regaining confidence in making more significant technology investments. However, even with the encouraging financial outlook, enterprises need to more selective than ever, especially when it comes to investing in ERP software solutions.

While there are a number of ERP solutions on the market, they aren’t all going to be the right fit for your organization. Despite what some might think, ERP is not a “one-size-fits-all” kind of deal. Above all else, the right solution needs to be able to support an organization’s specific business needs, help improve efficiency and effectiveness, and provide the most significant ROI possible. In addition, with the onslaught of Web 2.0 and mobile technologies, the right solution needs to be able to provide “anytime, anywhere” computing that’s so critical in today’s fast-paced, round-the-clock working environment.

The entire ERP implementation process can be a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be. The most critical first step is finding the right vendor. Once you have your ERP implementation partner selected, the rest should be fairly easy to handle.

To help those faced with this challenge, I have compiled a few implementation tips from VAI’s sales and services teams, sharing their own experiences about what enterprises should know before taking the plunge.

Pick the ERP vendor, then the software. A successful implementation is only as good as the team put behind it. Find out what kind of support will be available to you. Spend time researching the ERP vendor, its track record and the experience of your potential implementation team. A good implementation team will make the major difference in the degree of success of your implementation. A good vendor can potentially become your long-term partner, actively engaged in the success and growth of your organization, present and future.

Personalize – but not too much. Every company has its own unique business requirements and a vendor and its software should to be able to support those needs. While some companies want customer-written software, others prefer software with no modifications. Both can cost you money. Finding a solution that’s a 90- to 95-percent fit with the rest being personalized is ideal.

Make the implementation someone’s job. Select a project manager who can dedicate his/her time to see the entire implementation process through to the end. Bringing in temporary help is a great way to lessen the workload on the project manager. Don’t expect him/her to work on the implementation during down or spare time – there isn’t any.

Success starts at the top. The most successful implementations are championed by the president or CEO. It can’t be a task assigned to the IT department. ERP touches every aspect of an organization and every employee needs to know its success is crucial to the future of the company. This message has to come from the top. 

Never stop implementing. Many companies address their major pain points in the first few months and then stop. This approach never taps the full power of the efficiencies and cost savings that a strong ERP package can deliver. Make a plan to have the trainers and implementers come in at least every year to review where you are and where you could be. Not only do you get more from your investment, but it will probably be a much longer time before you feel the need to start the ERP replacement search again.

Following these five recommendations can help you ease into your ERP implementation plan with confidence. We also suggest that you take a good look at all of the current processes across your organization and determine which ones need to be fully automated. You may discover that other parts of your business should be integrated within the scope of your original ERP implementation. As business conditions shift and continue to improve, you could find that your organization’s appetite for ERP is greater than you may have originally anticipated. For more information about VAI, call 800-824-7776 or visit www.vai.net.

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