Utilizing all of the sections above to create a comprehensive upgrade/implementation strategy helps things run smoothly, but there are some major risk factors to stay away from when you are looking to implement an ERP system.
Not Fully Exploring the Requirements of Your ERP System
Exploring all of the requirements you desire for your ERP system from the start can help you and your company get through the implementation with ease. Neglecting a full audit of the potential ERP, can remove critical pieces of your business process from integration with an ERP system. As advanced as the systems and functionality have become, the possibilities for implementation are nearly endless. Be sure to communicate with your providers and consultants on the potential build out as well as the areas you desire integration. There is potential that your provider or consultant has come across the same problem in the past and understands how to properly implement your request.
Not Including End-Users in Decision Making Process
End-users are those who will be using the system on a day to day basis. Keeping these folks in the loop throughout the implementation process provides a fresh perspective on the implementation. The specific struggles faced as a CIO are far different than those working on the shop floor. Including end-users in the process allows them to feel some ownership of the project as well. If end-users are handed a finished product after having limited or no influence on the project, it can lead to frustrations and poor implementations.
ERP systems are created to make your business processes more efficient and save you money in the long run, but the initial investment can be surprising to some. If that initial budget starts to increase, the sky's the limit. Ensuring you have a measurable and accurate road map to stick to can ensure you are both hitting timeline goals and staying within budget. A few items which can unexpectedly increase budget include the following:
- Deployment - Who, when, where?
- Software Licensing - You will have to license the product itself.
- User base - How many users will your implementation need to include?
- Infrastructure investments - Hardware and software.
- Integrations and third-party tools - Which third party tools and integrations will you use?
- Customizations and development - Will customizations be handled internally or externally?
- Training - In house or third-party?
- Ongoing support and maintenance - Who helps when things break?
- Scalability - Is your system built to scale, or is it limited by certain factors?
Understanding Cloud vs. On Premises ERP Systems
Cloud based ERP systems are stored on servers to readily display information no matter which network you are connected to. While On Premise solutions require a dedicated, on-site server to handle the passing of information. There are pros and cons to each implementation and these should be examined before moving towards implementing an ERP system. If you choose an on-premise option, you will rely on your internal IT department to set up, manage, and integrate changes to the system. If you choose a cloud based solution you push the hosting and maintenance off onto your ERP provider. Implementing a cloud based ERP system can free up otherwise useful time in your IT department, but leaves you at the mercy of your provider should you ever need anything related to the software.
Communication is vital through the process of an ERP implementation. As long as each team (consultants, providers, internal teams) stay communicative, the process for implementation can run smoothly. If you find yourself wondering what your provider is doing, or communication seems sporadic in the early stages, it may be time to look elsewhere.
Implementing a “sandbox” or test environment which runs parallel to your live software gives you an environment to test new features. If you are not sure how a new data source will talk with your systems, you can test things out in your testing environment. While everyone can benefit from a testing environment, this process is especially useful for large businesses, new clients, and any creative ideas.
Not Taking Advantage of Features
As technology expands, so do the available features of an ERP system. Fully exploring the functionality and potential features to implement can keep your software implementation on the cutting edge of tech. It is up to you to discuss the areas you think your ERP implementation can impact your business. Then it is up to the provider and consultants to take a look at those potentials and give you a good idea of what the implementation would look like.
On the same hand, we see folks who implement bloated systems with too much functionality, end up frustrated. Take a hard look at the items you want to implement and how they will be used. The last thing you want in an ERP implementation is to have functionality underutilized.
Not Investing in Training and Change Management
Training and change management are vital aspects to any ERP implementation. As we have discussed previously, end-user knowledge of your software is extremely important in an implementation. While gaining critical input through the development process helps your efforts, training those end-users is going to determine the amount of success you see initially and down the road. An ERP system is designed to improve productivity and performance for the vital areas of your business and having properly trained end users sets up that improvement as soon as you push your systems live. Empowering your end users with the knowledge to fully understand your ERP system leads them to be more receptive of changes down the road. Which leads us to change management. Most change management plans start with the planning phase. A written plan should be established and confirmed by both the internal project team and ERP vendor. Timelines, responsibilities, communication, training, and support should all be included in your change management plan. Creating a comprehensive plan can ensure roadblocks are cleared quickly and keeps those who are not integral, out of the weeds. Ongoing training and support is just as important, if not more, than the implementation itself. As needs arise you and your team will need experts to lean on. These areas are designed to create an engaging and desirable outcome for your implementation for its users across the board.
Not Performing a Mock Go-Live
Similar to the development environment above, it is important to have a mock go-live for your systems before the full go live, so you can explore problems from a tech standpoint all the way to end-user errors and everything in between. This phase is vital to see how the specific software will integrate with your systems. The majority of edge case problems are found in this mock go-live.
Not Addressing Security and Archiving
ERP systems are data hounds and without the proper technological infrastructure, you run the risk of security vulnerabilities and run through data storage rather quickly. Implementing the proper data warehousing solutions can save a lot of data hassles down the road.