Are you preparing for an ERP project, but not sure how the process works? There are lots of misconceptions surrounding ERP implementations, including:
The potential risks of introducing a new system within your operations
How long the return on investment will be
How long it takes to implement
In this blog, we answer your frequently asked questions surrounding ERP implementations, so you can make your journey from beginning to launch as smooth as possible.
1. What is the go live phase in an ERP project?
The go-live phase of an ERP project is where you first launch your system so it’s ready to be used within your business operations. With the right expertise and implementation, there are numerous ways that you can maximise the benefits an ERP system has to offer. But there are some challenges you need to address to achieve a successful ERP go-live:
Tweak your timeline if needed
In most cases, a go-live will perform as expected, and even if adjustments need to be made, this should only extend the timeline of your project by a short amount of time. Reasons for timeline extensions vary, from beneficial third-party apps being introduced to the market, to ensuring your implementation is tuned to perfection.
The result will be a resilient, robust system you can rely on, so this small delay will prove to be a success especially in the long run.
Understand your risks
User acceptance testing is key, as it ensures end users are able to use the software effectively to mitigate risks. This can be done through training in key areas during the implementation process to guarantee a successful go live.
Know how you’re going to track project deliverables
This can be done by creating a go-live checklist to ensure you have all processes in order. A go-live checklist includes factors like the suitable resources available and your transformation delivery ecosystem, ensuring the right partners and external expertise are on board.
2. Why should I implement an ERP?
Implementing new software provides several benefits to your business. In this case, an ERP system can centralise critical business data, making it easier for teams across departments and functions to collaborate, access real-time information on demand and more.
Some other key benefits of implementing ERP software include:
Better time management
The ability to automate time-consuming tasks means you can focus on your most important activities. Examples of automated processes with implementation include advanced scheduling and data reporting set over periods of time (e.g., monthly), benefitting the efficiency of decision making.
Streamline your processes effectively with software that manages all your operations in one package. With advanced reporting tools, segregate and streamline your data easily from a compiled, detailed database, where your information is always accessible.
Real-time visibility on processes
Have a complete view of your customers who are currently engaging with your business and keep track on the status of their orders. This can be done through linking your ERP system to your CRM, facilitating cross-team collaboration by bringing your front and back office together.
An ERP system allows you to view data from all your departments, providing a complete understanding of your business processes and where you could improve.
For example, inventory management - now you can avoid expenditure on potentially wasted goods and quickly place orders for new stock when running low.
Here are some additional benefits of an ERP system, in particular solutions built on the cloud:
- Functional and technical updates are automated by a vendor like Microsoft
- Cuts down your costs – the vendor will handle all the costs associated with setting up your system
- Enables you to stay on the latest software versions – the vendor will monitor your system, keep track of updates, and automatically release patches
- Get easy access to data anytime, anywhere – as your data is stored in the cloud, you can access it even when on-the-go
- Easy to scale up or down
- Enhanced data security, with security experts who monitor your data on a 24/7 basis
- Built in elasticity with the system, meaning no matter if you have a small or large quantity of users, it will still deliver the same results
Learn more about how cloud ERP software compares to on-premise ERP in this blog post.
3. How long does the ERP implementation process usually take?
This largely depends on the size of your business. For larger companies, this could take a couple of years while for small medium businesses (SMBs), implementing new software may only take a couple of months. However, there are other factors that may affect the length of your ERP project, including:
- The overall customisation of your ERP system, including third party apps and configuration
- The capabilities required for implementation, such maintaining full stakeholder engagement throughout the project, and driving project deliverables
- The resources required, including user acceptance testing (UAT) and technical expertise
4. How can ERP systems boost efficiency?
As your ERP system unifies your information, this provides a single source of truth for all departments. As a result, this leads to improved cross-team collaboration with the ability to track your customer engagement by linking your system up to the existing CRM, spanning across all departments.
From customer information becoming easier and quicker to access within your organisation, your employees can focus on priority projects rather than searching through outdated, disparate systems, making valued use of their time.
5. Why do software implementations not go as planned and what steps can I take to prevent this from happening?
There are several benefits that come from software implementation; however, you may experience a few slip-ups along the way that may be unapparent whilst planning to launch this within your business. Despite the low chances of this happening if you’re fully prepared, software implementation may not go according to plan. This could be a result of:
- Not testing the new software properly – Even if your upgrade looks like your old system, this is still new, validating the need to test this thoroughly and gain a complete understanding of how it works
- Not aligning goals and mindsets across stakeholder groups, so they can see the value added within the new software implementation
- Many businesses fail to set realistic expectations at the start of the project. By not having a clear plan and knowing what goals you want to achieve, you won’t know when/if the project can be considered a success or not
To tackle these challenges, you should outline benchmarks and goals before implementation so you can track what stage your project is at. The reasons why implementations may go off-track include the failure to address change within your operations, the lack of commitment from stakeholders, and failure to realise the value of the new system and how it can benefit your current processes.
Therefore, clear goals allow for improved structure, allowing for easier adaption within your workplace. Additionally, you should ensure your employees are on board with your new software, which helps make the implementation process as smooth as possible.
Some steps you could take to get them on board include:
- Creating a culture of innovation – You should aim for your employees to be as collaborative as possible on the project where they can express their own concerns, so they assist in innovating and improving your current plan
- Learning exercises, allowing a practical, hands-on experience with your software implementation
- One to one training, so they can create and embrace unconventional ideas and opportunities which may not have been expressed as a group
- Prioritising stakeholder activities, including journey mapping and building awareness as the initiative progresses
- Bringing in outside innovators – It is important you can establish fresh, creative ideas working with third party companies, allowing you to explore opportunities and reduce the chances of errors occurring
- Recruit an innovative workforce – Be on the lookout for creative individuals for your team so you can bring in a host of fresh, new ideas
For more on getting employees on board with your ERP project and incorporating an effective change management strategy towards this, read our blog here.
6. Why software implementation is the right step for your business
Implementing an ERP system will always come with its own setbacks and challenges. But with the right implementation, strategy and mindset, you can make the process much easier and less daunting than it initially seems.
In our cheat sheet, we help you lay out a digital transformation strategy that can guide you through your ERP implementation process.
Download it below.