Executive Support and Commitment
It has been my experience that in order to ensure a successful implementation of an ERP system, ensuring that the project has executive support and commitment is most critical.
Without this, the project leaders will be fighting an uphill battle in getting firm-wide buy-in and adoption. When everyone in the firms recognizes that the executives are stakeholders in the outcome of the system implementation, they are much more likely to embrace the new system and comply with new policies and procedures. Looking back at projects that were not initially successful, the one issue that was in common upon reflection was that Owners / Executive stakeholders ended their involvement at the sales table.
Once you gain the proper level of executive commitment, a company’s executive management team should always refer back to the company goals when providing solution providers with the company’s needs. Management may ask how the ERP system will achieve the company’s goals and objectives. Does it support the business agenda, solve company problems and increase efficiency? With goals in mind, a manager can easily answer these questions. Remember this is about business processes that support the enterprise. Too often, during the sales process the IT team is leading the search and often do not have the same goals and objectives as the business managers. While information technology considerations are important, IT shouldn’t be the driver of the business analysis. Making this mistake often leads to unnecessary change requests and sometimes acrimony amongst the internal teams.
Selecting a strong leader to drive the selection and implementation process
on the client side helps ensure the process goes smoothly. This individual should possess strong organizational and communication skills. For example, the project manager should make sure everyone in the company understands the importance of the software, what role each worker will play in the implementation process, what it means for business operations and how employees’ jobs will change with ERP solutions. He will need to work weekly with the solutions provider’s project manager to ensure all project issues, tasks and risks are being communicated and addressed.
Prepare For Change
Organizations need to Prepare for Change. People often fear change – it’s the unknown. ERP software is no different. Employees may be hesitant to take on new tasks and responsibilities, holding on to traditional and older methods. While some employees may be wary of these business changes, it’s crucial for managers to address these fears by launching a change-management process. This involves identifying employees who will be affected by the change, explaining how workers must behave to ensure the changes succeed and providing all with frequent updates. Having the employees involved in the project as early as possible will go a long way towards ensuring that the staff in the organization feel connected to the project and will be far more accepting of change.
DATA, DATA, DATA
Probably the most critical in terms of risk and underestimated in the implementation process is the effort required to import legacy data to your new system. It’s important to Analyze your current data and decide which pieces need to be converted and clean it up. Filter out any unnecessary information. Ensure you understand if and how the legacy data will be used for reporting and analytical purposes. Importing clean data plays a major role in the success of the implementation process. It should be accurate and complete to avoid any inefficiencies or useless information. It is also one of the first tasks that should be worked on as the test data that is imported into the new system is very useful for users as they are more comfortable when training with data that they are familiar with.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
Once the system is configured, and test data is successfully imported into the test environment (sometimes referred to as a sandbox) it is time for the key users to have access to the system and go through User Acceptance Testing (UAT) scenarios to ensure the system is optimized and can be tested end to end by the key users involved in this stage of the project. UAT is not training. It is the time the company has to work with the implementation teams to ensure we have a working system.
Once the user acceptance testing has been completed, and any issue that came up have been corrected and re-tested, it is time to train the end users. It is important to plan and have the training scheduled to end the week prior to the Go Live so the new way of processing is fresh in their heads. The preferred approach is to not train the entire staff as the sessions become unmanageable and time consuming for the organization. Training the trainer is the way in which we can ensure that key people in each department are trained and they take their training to the rest of the people on their team. These training leaders will become the knowledge leaders of each department and be able to have the flexibility to train the other users as management permits.
As the end user training comes to completion it is critical to review the Go Live check list to ensure any configuration changes, data, and security / permission roles are finalized. All of the data that was tested in the test company will need to be re-integrated and validated in the “Live” company. As this is typically a stressful time for those involved, having a detailed checklist will help to keep everyone focused and lead to a successful Go Live. It’s go time.
After your system has been configured, tested and your employees have been trained, it’s time to go live. No implementation is without bumps and issues that were unexpected along the way. If a solution provider explains that all of their implementations have been successful without issue, run for the hills. The success of the implementation and Go Live (Which will be stressful) is all in communication and ensuring that all of the above steps have been completed and that the scope of the project was clearly outlined and understood from the inception and managed throughout the project.
Once the system is up and the users are comfortable, you want to be able to transition to support. Having dedicated support (a help desk) is an invaluable investment for the company to ensure the new system stays updated. This is a resource to enable authorized users access to a full time support team that understands all of the nuances of your system and project.
Bonus Tip: Consult a Professional
Okay, I’ll admit that this one is a little self-serving, but I believe it! Our team here at MIBAR is here to help guide you through your ERP implementation and ensure that everything goes smoothly.
If you’re thinking about replacing your current system and implementing a new ERP system, please feel free to get in touch! We’re here to help!