5 Critical Steps Before Implementing a Next Generation ERP System

Modern ERP systems, like Microsoft Dynamics 365, offer significant advantages over traditional ERP systems. Most next generation ERP systems are:

  • Cloud-based, built for mobile devices and remote workers
  • Flexible, requiring configuration rather than customization
  • Built to integrate with other line-of-business systems
  • Designed to distribute actionable insight almost immediately

To maximize the value of your ERP technology investment, we recommend your organization takes the following 5 steps before your ERP implementation begins:

1. Take a Fresh Perspective.

5 Critical Steps Before Implementing a Next Generation ERP SystemBe open to business transformation. If you’ve been using the same ERP software for decades (even if your systems have been upgraded), your organization likely has “perfected” inefficient business processes, meaning you’ve made processes as efficient as possible within the old business framework. With new ERP software, new opportunities become available.

Consider hiring outside business strategy consultants to guide the ERP software selection and optimize the business processes that add value to your organization. Your internal team is often too close to the problem, and traditional ERP consultants don’t re-engineer business processes, they only configure the software and train users.

2. Find Innovative Ways to Leverage the Cloud.

A key advantage of modern ERP systems is their native ability to use the internet for both input and output.

  • Internet-connected devices that can relay data points to the ERP system. Clients have connected IoT (Internet of Things) sensors to manufacturing equipment to relay anomalies in temperature – or report usage rates. That information can be used to optimize predictive maintenance schedules.
  • Connectivity between line-of-business systems, like HR systems, your eCommerce site or vendor procurement systems.
  • Integration of big data, machine learning and predictive analytics.
  • Distribution of analytics and alerts.
  • Customer and employee portals / dashboards.

3. Data Cleanse Your Current ERP System

Don’t bring dirty data into a clean ERP system. Look for opportunities to simplify. One of our clients had 16-levels of SKU segments, creating nearly 100,000 unique SKUs, which had become nearly impossible to manage. Taking the time to rethink their SKU numbering convention has saved them significant time and money.

Other clients have had their system cluttered with vast volumes of outdated records – past vendors and customers; obsolete BOMs; long-retired products and parts. You can use services to augment existing data with validated shipping addresses, credit rating scores, and other information that’s relevant to your business.

Many business analytics tools make it possible to keep the historical database separate, but still accessible.

4. Prioritize Data Security

Mobility, remote connectivity and Internet-connected devices democratize data, but also create risk. Your data security model should include:

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Role-based security
  • Software and hardware firewalls
  • Physical security measures
  • Device security
  • Backup and recovery
  • Extensive employee training

The weakest link in data security is human error. People often don’t realize they’re sharing confidential information.

5. Invest in Change Management

The success of all ERP projects depends on people embracing new procedures and new systems. If you have long-term employees who’ve been doing things the same way for years, even decades, they are going to be naturally resistant to change.

Change management consultants can help your organization:

  • Catch and thwart early symptoms of resistance
  • Create communication plans and feedback loops to encourage participation
  • Identify and encourage project evangelisms
  • Create training programs to educate users and administrators through every project stage.

A Modern ERP System Should Go Beyond Finance and Operations

Finance and Operations are the backbone of an ERP system, but today, you have options to easily extend ERP functionality into every aspect of your business, from sales and marketing, to production scheduling and customer support.

If you’d like help preparing for your ERP replacement project, contact us to get started.

Author: Mark Lanoue, Solution Architect

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Understanding Master Planning
ERP Deliverables: What to Expect When Implementing ERP