ERP software has made a big difference for many companies in recent years, and it can certainly have a huge impact on your productivity and profitability as well. However, even more important than deciding which ERP software to use is the process of integrating it with your business. By following the best practices for ERP implementation methodology, you can ensure that your company is fully prepared to use ERP software — and this way, you’ll be able to get much more out of it.
The following steps should play a central role in your ERP implementation methodology:
Planning — As with any business task, appropriate planning is key to successful implementation. For most businesses, this involves a careful evaluation of their current processes (including both strengths and weaknesses), as well as forming goals for what they hope to accomplish with ERP software. Quite often, a software vendor will be used to assist company managers as they decide which processes are most in need of fine tuning.
The planning phase should take full stock of the unique challenges and opportunities facing your business, as well as industry best practices. A software vendor can also guide you in determining which software options and extenders will be most useful to your company — after all, the needs of an e-commerce retail company will differ from a warehouse that manufactures automotive parts! With a solid understanding of what your business needs and what different software packages can offer, you’ll be able to make the right selection.
Development — Once the goals and needs of a company have been established, the software vendor will then begin work on a custom solution. Typically, this involves taking a pre-existing ERP platform and then modifying it based on the unique requirements of a particular company. For example, custom menu items might be created within the software platform, or certain extenders might be integrated with the main system.
Custom color schemes and even company logos may also be added into the software platform to create a fully branded user experience. The system is tested multiple times during development to catch any bugs or other problems that would inhibit usability before it is finalized and sent out to the end users. This process usually takes several weeks to ensure full functionality.
Education and Implementation — The introduction of a new ERP system can be scary for your employees, especially if they’ve grown used to an older system that has been used by your company for several years. Because of this, providing proper education and training regarding the new system is essential for successful implementation. More often than not, the software vendor assists in this process by providing demonstration workshops, video trainings, and other forms of assistance. Continued real time support (often available either via phone or online chat) will also prove extremely helpful during these early stages.
It should hardly be surprising that there will be a few bumps along the way as your team begins to adapt to your new ERP software. Depending on how many people will be using the software, it can be helpful to have one staff member (or a small team) serve as an on-site specialist who can help others understand the ins and outs of the new platform. Thankfully, the user friendly nature of modern ERP systems should allow your team to adapt in a relatively short amount of time.
Proper ERP implementation methodology takes time, and no small amount of effort. However, as you take the essential steps to ensure that you identify your company’s most pressing ERP needs and then work with a reliable software company to develop a customized solution, you can have confidence that your new platform will help you deliver better results to your customers.