Gaining internal buy-in from the implementers as well as your executive team is a linchpin when implementing a manufacturing ERP system. We have put together a handy guide for a successful ERP implementation which walks you through many of the steps we recommend to gain this buy-in.
Assemble Your Team
Gaining interest and buy-in from a few areas of your business is key to a successful ERP implementation. Each implementation strategy starts with aligning business goals and vision with the senior management team. Getting these executives on-board can ensure you have adequate resources and attention to the project. ERP implementations without the good graces of an executive team become much more of a struggle. Once you have the buy-in of your executive team, you should bring the folks who will be directly impacted by the updated technology up-to-speed on what you are looking to do. These include engineers and shop floor workers, your sales team, and your warehouse staff (if applicable). These are the people who will be able to point out further inefficiencies and possible implementation solutions for your ERP. Getting them involved early in the process prevents roadblocks from popping up as you work through your implementation road map.
Just as important, if not more, is the onboarding of your external team. These are the experts in the field and can translate the desires of your team into a functional solution within your ERP system. These folks include your ERP provider (if you’ve chosen one) and any consultants you will be collaborating with on the implementation. Creating actionable and implementable solutions to your ERP system is key to full functionality containing all the bells and whistles you are looking for, without extra pieces you won’t use or don’t need. Your external team has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to a manufacturing ERP implementation, be sure to utilize this resource to the fullest extent.
Create a Change Management Plan
Along with an ERP implementation comes some pretty heavy changes in your organization. Having a plan for training and informing the users of your implementation, creates a smooth implementation from start to finish. Change management is the people part of your ERP project and sending out a few internal newsletters and sending the users to training will not suffice for a proper manufacturing ERP implementation.
Estimating Budget for Implementation
A manufacturing ERP implementation has many moving parts and can affect each aspect of your business in some manner. Properly estimating expectations and budget keeps things from getting out of hand, and sets the stage for the solutions you are looking to implement. Understanding the pieces of your business you are looking to revolutionize, should be done from the start. As new ideas and solutions pop up, your budget can skyrocket. Having a good idea of what you are looking for after you’ve discussed with your provider and consultants, keeps much of the headache out of the picture as you work through the implementation.
Start Data Migration
Data is the cornerstone of any ERP implementation, but even more so in a manufacturing ERP system. Examining and collecting all of the data currently stored in your systems gives you, your consultant team, and provider, an opportunity to investigate inefficiencies in data structure and develop solutions for these problems within your current system. Many industry operators refer to this as data cleansing. Taking your data and removing the fluff to provide actionable and measurable performance indicators, keeps you from wasting your time and implementing solutions you don’t need.
Train Your Users
Training the folks who will utilize the new software is arguably the most important part of a manufacturing ERP software system. You can have executive buy-in, the most comprehensive change management plan, and each piece of the puzzle put together properly for a smooth implementation, but if you are lacking the necessary training for your users, your system will fall flat on its face. Supplying your users with an in-depth understanding of the solutions the software will provide and its functionality, will help your implementation efforts in every regard.
Having a team to monitor your software go-live keeps bugs at bay and gives your implementation the attention it deserves. As your systems begin processing and reporting on your data, there are sure to be problems. Your go-live team typically includes both internal and external stakeholders to spot mistakes and quickly develop solutions for the problems which have arisen.
ERP implementation success is different for every project and moves in waves. Initially, a big win is proper reporting, while down the road, success may involve having company-wide implementation and proper execution. Developing these milestones for success can ensure you are moving in the right direction and not spinning your wheels. Be sure to include external stakeholders in success discussions as they may have more insight on milestones than you can build yourself.