6 Key Phases for an ERP Implementation Plan
Enterprise resource planning, or ERP for short, is an essential instrument for any business, big or small. While there are many pre-constructed ERP solutions available for purchase, they're no longer meeting business needs. For this reason, the demand for customized ERP software has been through the roof.
Each business has its unique processes, and customized software can integrate those into a more insightful display. ERP software is all about linking together a business's processes, like logistics and customer service, into one single system. A single system view enables more informed, smart, and balanced decision-making about future business growth.
Custom ERP System: What Business Challenges Can It Solve?
From communication issues to bad financial decisions, a lack of ERP software can wreak havoc on any business. When you don't have a centralized system that puts all the links together in your processing chain, it's hard to discover where to make changes. ERP software is a business-wide solution for solving many complex problems.
Poor communication can be a significant revenue killer for any business. Many employees struggle with a lack of productivity as they wait for other staff members to return their communication requests. An ERP system can turn communication into a strength for any business by allowing authorized employees access to necessary information. When employees have easy access to the information they need to complete their tasks, they can be more productive.
Lack of Unique Customer Experience
Customers no longer want to be treated as one out of many. Instead, they want to be treated as unique. With customer data tracking offered by ERP software, you can give all your customers the customized experience they deserve. ERP software will allow you to track all types of customer data, including order history, phone number, feedback, and so forth. Anytime a customer contacts a business, a staff member with access to ERP software can have a full history of the customer's data and create a unique experience.
Bad Financial Decisions
The days of relying on quarter revenue summaries are over. Businesses must have real-time data to reference when making financial decisions to ensure they are in the company's best interest. ERP software can allow business decision-makers to evaluate financial information like sales and expenses in real-time. With these detailed reports, more insightful financial decisions can be easily made on the fly.
Costly Repetitive Tasks
Most new businesses follow the manual route of completing repetitive tasks, such as creating invoices. When demand increases, decision-makers believe that they need to hire more employees to meet the demand. This is not the case. Instead, ERP software can take care of repetitive tasks like invoicing. When manual tasks become automated with a customized ERP solution, businesses no longer need to pay costly labor fees to achieve the same results.
These are just some of the many areas that ERP integration can help with. As the integration process gets underway, it will soon become clear just how many processes this software can automate.
The 6-Step ERP Implementation Phases
The ERP integration phase can be a big undertaking for any business, regardless of size. Having a knowledgeable customized ERP software provider can ensure that your ERP integration goes smoothly.
Step 1: Planning
Before any major update, planning is essential so that everybody involved knows what will happen throughout the ERP implementation phases. During the planning phase, it's time to put together a dedicated ERP implementation team. At the bare minimum, this team should include the following:
- QA Test Engineer
- Application Analyst
- Application Developer
- Project Manager
It's a good idea to consider including a senior manager of each department to assist with the project. This is also the time to consider hiring an implementation consultant who has previous experience in ERP integrations. The complete ERP integration team should meet up to discuss the oncoming integration steps and delegate specific tasks to individual team members.
Step 2: Budgeting
The second step of the integration process is nailing down expected integration costs and constructing a viable budget. This is where an ERP integration consultant comes in handy. This person or team can explain potential costs and ensure that no major expenses are forgotten in the budget. Some expected costs associated with the integration process include:
- Data Backups And Storage
- Staff Overtime Pay
- Vendor Training And Consultation Fees
- Network And Hardware Upgrades
The actual cost of the implementation process is going to vary based on several factors. Some of the most sizable is the number of users and the size of the business. When drafting a budget, it's vital also to consider productivity losses. It's unlikely that a company will be able to operate at maximum efficiency during the software implementation process.
Step 3: Data Migration
This step is where the planning finally comes into actionable integration. Data migration should be performed by your application analyst, they should be responsible for:
- Data Cleansing
- Database Setup
- Data Transfer
- Testing And Verification
Step 4: Employee Training
The key to any successful ERP implementation strategy is user adoption. When employees are behind the new software and actively work to integrate it into their daily routine, change happens. Training should be performed by top executives or ERP consultants.
The most popular training methods are in-person and e-learning. Factors like the type of industry a business is in, employee work locations, and so forth will determine which learning method is best for a specific company. It's important to note that project leaders should consider employee incentives for actively participating in training sessions to encourage faster adaptation.
Step 5: Deployment
Deployment is the big day that an ERP integration team spends months planning for. This is the day that the ERP software will go live across business technology for all employees to start using. Some necessary considerations for deployment day include:
- Possible Staff Overtime Scheduling
- Having A Communication Plan For Downtime
- Planning Out Reliability Checks
One of the biggest struggles that integration teams face is communication breakdowns. For this reason, all employees should be informed of whom to contact for questions during the integration process. There should be a clear communication structure so each person, including project leaders, know whom to reach throughout the deployment process.
Step 6: Evaluate ERP Integration Success
The implementation plan doesn't stop after deployment day. Rather, the ERP integration team needs to evaluate the success or failure of the integration project. This is going to be an ongoing project for your team. Some notable areas of evaluation include:
- Has client satisfaction increased?
- Have productivity levels increased?
- Has the amount of human error decreased?
- What ROI has the project brought?
ERP can transform the operations of any business, big or small. Having a good and robust ERP software and the right implementation plan, is a vital necessity for any business future success.