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“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe”                                - Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Blade Runner, 1982

I’ve been involved with Microsoft Dynamics in a variety of roles for more years than I care to mention, and unlike Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, whilst I may not have seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, I have seen and experienced enough ERP implementations to have a good understanding of what makes for a successful project.

In this blog I’d like to share some of those experiences with you and if you take one thing away that could benefit you then it will have been a worthwhile read.

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So, ERP implementations, where do you start on such a wide ranging and all-encompassing topic? Ironically approaching how to write a blog shares some similarities as before you start putting anything to paper (be it physical or electronic) you need to ensure that you have...

Clarity

Be clear on why you are embarking on an ERP implementation. If technology is the answer you need to be absolutely clear that you are asking the right questions in the first place. What are your goals, what issues do you need to address, what you are expecting to get out of the finished solution and how it is going to improve your business?

Commitment

Let’s be honest, ERP implementations aren’t cheap. There are a bunch of services and licences to pay for as well as the cost of your teams’ time so it is absolutely critical that you have full commitment to the project at all levels of the business, especially the Senior Management Team.

Engagement

The most successful implementations are those where everybody involved is fully engaged with your vision and are all working towards your clearly defined goals. Whilst it’s not always possible, try not to ‘impose’ a new solution on the business.

Instead:

  • Listen to what your team are saying
  • Let them know how this solution is going to make their lives easier
  • Tell them what’s in it for them and not only will they be fully engaged but it will also be incredibly helpful when it comes to change management later down the line

Data, data, data

Your business is your data. Whether it’s weights and volumes of ingredients, purchase costs and sales prices, process timings, machinery up and down times or customer contact details, without your data, you are lost.

It’s difficult to stress just how important it is that you view data as one of the most critical elements of your ERP implementation and that you treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

Understand success

We’ve gone into this process with a clearly defined set of goals and objectives so it’s important that you know what success looks like to you and how it can be measured. This ranges from having clearly defined user acceptance tests that enable you to execute your ‘day in a life’ user stories to system availability metrics.

If you need your solution to have 100% uptime (the panacea) then make sure that’s stated as a success criterion at the outset as you’ll undoubtedly need a business continuity strategy.

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There’s not much more to read so thank you for sticking with it.

I started this blog with a quote from Blade Runner and that quote finishes like this;

“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die”                               

And that is where the similarity (if there was one) between a dying replicant in an 80’s science fiction movie and an ERP implementation differ. Once you’ve completed your implementation life goes on and the last piece of advice I would like to share is;

Plan for life after live.

You’ve done all the right things throughout the implementation, your staff are engaged, trained and hopefully embracing change. But, you may not be ready to stand on your own two feet immediately so make sure you have a plan for what happens after you go live.

Consider a period of post-go-live hyper care where you have someone available on hand to assist and troubleshoot or think about any help you may need navigating through your first financial month end.

And there you have it, some experience shared with quite a lot to take in. But, hopefully when you consider embarking on an ERP implementation project, some of the above will scratch away at the back of your mind and will prove to be useful.

If you’d like to find out more about how Columbus approach ERP implementations or would just like to see how many more 80’s science fiction references I can crow bar into a conversation, click on my details below.

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