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Tech Insights 9 min read

8 success factors you need to know before implementing an ERP

No matter your type of business, corporation or organization, a customized ERP system is now considered essential for optimizing your operations. This software offers a multitude of modules. It helps you centralize important information to achieve goals like boosting customer loyalty and satisfaction and keeping your team well-organized and efficient.

While there are a number of steps you can take to successfully implement an ERP, there are some basic principles you should consider before you begin. In this article, we’ll present the most important tips to keep in mind.

Tip #1 for successfully implementing an ERP system: Perform a thorough audit

It’s no surprise that you need to perform a thorough audit before implementing an ERP system. Every business, corporation and organization is unique. Getting ready to implement an inadequate solution without having considered the right factors would be unthinkable.

Of course, internal methods and practices are important factors to keep in mind. Likewise, you will need to perform a full audit of your staff and the knowledge you have harnessed. Your resources and capacities will determine your specific strategy here, as well as the objectives, needs and risks of your operations. Naturally, professionals want to identify and avoid unfavourable situations where possible.

Lastly, this preliminary audit will be finalized by studying current and anticipated partnerships to identify needs, and, in turn, a suitable software solution. Analysis, objectivity and transparency will be the hallmarks of this critically important first step.

CAREFUL: Don’t forget to convert your data during your audit! You have worked for years to build your database, a critical resource for helping your business grow and thrive. So what do you do with it once you have implemented your ERP?

It’s really important that you remember to convert your data for your new ERP. Be warned that this step will likely be one of the biggest headaches for you during the implementation process. That being said, you shouldn’t underestimate its importance. Try to take stock of your data before beginning this process and decide which data to convert.

Tip #2 for successfully implementing an ERP system: Set up a project team

After the initial audit stage, you’ll undoubtedly need to set up a project team. That being said, if you put together a subpar team, this can affect the initial results of your ERP system implementation. Here are a few tips.

  • First of all, remember that the smaller the team, the better, regardless of the size of your business, corporation or organization. Ideally, a project lead and 2 or 3 collaborators should be plenty to round out your team. Every player should have a precisely defined role to stay on track and achieve your goals. Better coordination means better efficiency!
  • Likewise, while some prefer to select team members based on the chain of command, it’s actually better to put together a team that includes a diverse array of talent. This will ensure you can meet the needs of various professions.
  • Finally, setting up a project team for implementing an ERP system also involves assigning a manager who will act as the link between your business and the team tasked with deploying your software solution. Basically, you should be very careful when setting up your project team. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your employees’ profiles. This project manager will be responsible for tracking finances and deadlines and following up on issues, as well as helping to identify comprehensive solutions and negotiate compromises to implement an ERP that works for everyone. Therefore, make sure you have someone who is familiar with your organization and who is experienced in managing projects involving multiple departments.

Remember that you’re trying to put in place a management solution that will need to support you with all aspects of your company, not with writing code or installing programs—this is not a technological project. As such, you’ll need to think about creating a project team whose skills and roles in the business give them in-depth knowledge of your processes, your operations and the work methods for different sectors. Why?

Because this team will be responsible for determining ERP processes, documenting and addressing certain ideas and bringing them to life, and convincing all their colleagues of the ERP’s benefits. They’re sort of the salespeople for your ERP.

Tip #3 for successfully implementing an ERP system: Keep your goals realistic

Let’s make this clear right from the start. How can you develop a business, corporation or organization if you don’t have any aspirations? Ironically, you need to remain realistic if you want to see real results. Implementing an ERP will require all of what you value the most: your best resources, your most versatile employees and, of course, your time.

The expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is what it’s all about here.

Everyone who will be working closely on developing processes and implementing the ERP will therefore need to be able to devote themselves to the project full-time. It’s a challenging marathon of an endeavor, so it’s critical to free up these individuals from their regular tasks to avoid slowing down the implementation process. Starting from scratch or nearly so, or completely starting over, means you’re investing your time as well as your energy before getting concrete results.

For example, you may need to think about reassigning tasks within your teams and even hiring extra staff to help you carry out this work. This will prevent your project team from feeling overwhelmed by the size of the task and help them achieve objectives on time so that your ERP will be sure to last for years to come.

In addition to time and resources, you need to have clear objectives. You need answers to questions and objectives that everyone on the team can understand:

  • Why are we replacing the current solution?
  • What issues need to be addressed?
  • What are the success factors for the ERP itself?

In this way you’ll be able to make sure that every decision made during this process (and there will be a million of them, trust me) will be in line with these objectives. It’s up to you to bring the project to life and give it clear objectives.

Tip #4 for successfully implementing an ERP system: Communication is your biggest asset

Of course, when we’re talking about clarity, we’re also thinking about the importance of communication. For such a complex, lengthy project, it (nearly) goes without saying that communication is key. By identifying clear goals or objectives, you’ll ensure that your project team knows what needs to get done.

You also need to identify your needs and take the time to explain every specific aspect of your requests. So when you request that the solution manage client accounts, you need to be a bit more specific: discuss terms for special payments, explain client claims, etc. The motto here? Don’t take anything for granted!

Furthermore, it’s equally important to manage expectations. ERP is a solution that involves everyone in a business and supports you in what you do best. There will certainly be changes, improvements and perhaps some tensions in the beginning. Don’t be discouraged; rather, make sure you’re able to back up your choices and thoroughly explain what the solution can and cannot do.

For example, your team can lose motivation over time. Definitely do not hesitate to remind your team of your objectives. Or simply keep in mind that your provider remains available to assist you in your learning.

Tip #5 for successfully implementing an ERP system: Customize the solution as little as possible

Remember when I talked about identifying clear objectives? Well, this is where they’ll be useful, since you need to remember that customizing an ERP can be very worthwhile and beneficial for you, but it can also incur additional costs and a longer deadline.

So before you request that your ERP be customized, go back to your goals and needs. Does this customization serve your objectives? Is it really necessary for meeting your needs? Is there a way to achieve the same goals all while using processes that are already included in this solution?

You may be surprised how some customizations are requested simply to replicate what the old solution did. Never hesitate to think twice about customization requests! And if you feel that you may have difficulty doing so, then consider setting up an “anti-change” committee. Your project team will need to answer to this committee and justify every customization.

Tip #6 for successfully implementing an ERP system: Consider continuing education

I’ll repeat this: it’s essential. One of the biggest challenges of implementing an ERP isn’t so much choosing processes or developing customizations. Rather, the ultimate obstacle to successfully implementing your ERP is the challenge your employees face in adapting to the new solution.

Keeping your objectives realistic involves another principle: implementing an ERP system requires continuing education. Sure, your software solution provider’s initial recommendations will undoubtedly seem complicated in the eyes of your team. Naturally, your provider will “bathe” in their own element. Feel free to follow every suggestion from your provider to gradually integrate certain approaches into your ERP.

An ERP is a complicated program that can come with its fair share of new processes and work methods, so if you want your employees to get the most benefit from it, you’re going to need to support them in this through training. Like every digital solution, Microsoft Dynamics 365, the renowned software from Microsoft, offers updates.  You can add new features, optimize modules, fix software flaws, etc. It’s important to accept every new version of your ERP to get the best results. On the other hand, using new tools reflects, once again, the need for continuing education. Despite the considerable investment involved, this training is profitable for your business, corporation or organization.  

Lastly, another fact may disrupt your operations: the transition from so-called “classical” models to digital ones may present real challenges for your staff. You will need to do a thorough follow-up with long-time and new employees alike when implementing your ERP. Ideally, you will need to provide documentation as well as customized training tailored to your teams’ actual needs. This will help ease the transition for your employees and show them all the solution’s new benefits.

Tip #7 for successfully implementing an ERP system: Think about change

Successfully implementing your ERP depends on a number of factors as you have seen, but its success or failure depends on its future as well. You likely realize that an ERP will come with its fair share of changes and new ways of operating. In addition to reassuring your employees and helping them get accustomed to these changes through training, you also need to think about reorganizing tasks, creating or even eliminating certain responsibilities and supporting your employees through this transition.

You may want to consider accepting expert advice to identify challenges, issues and solutions to reduce its impact. Because your teams may very well fear for their job security in the face of so many changes, they may then resist this implementation.

By planning for change, hiring the necessary staff and ensuring that you respond appropriately to your employees’ fears and worries, you can guarantee that your ERP implementation will be a success!

Tip #8 for successfully implementing an ERP system: Deal with mistakes

To error is human!

Neglect one of the 7 points that we’ve listed above and you’ll run into problems or even bring about real setbacks. Contrary to what some may think, implementing an ERP system is not a “miracle solution” where you can achieve your goals without putting in any effort.

If you take an approach that’s not aligned with your implementation objectives, your priorities and your budget, then you may encounter problems when implementing your ERP system. Likewise, the internal staff of your business, corporation or organization must be ready to incorporate a new technology into their process or their daily routine.

Remember, you need to perform an audit before starting to implement your ERP. Additionally, internal and/or external agreement regarding expectations around implementing an ERP system must not be overlooked. Mistakes are possible, but not fatal. At the worst, they will delay your implementation process. Communicate with your team or your ERP solution provider to get to the root of the problem. Stay motivated and keep your goals within reach!

In conclusion

Yes, it’s critical that you choose a software solution that’s tailored to your needs. An engaged, available provider will help you implement your ERP system. But for your implementation to succeed, you’ll need to prepare ahead of time.

Digital transformation is a critical step for businesses these days, however, not all companies are “ready” to incorporate a new technology. Preparing yourself and getting your priorities straight remain critical for succeeding with your project.

To summarize, we have discussed some major concepts in this article. Choosing your project team, revising objectives to match your resources, implementing continuing education...deploying an ERP is sometimes more complicated than it seems! Nonetheless, the benefits of integrated management software can also surpass your expectations by blending analyses, patience and transparency.

This list is in some sense our reference for every project as it represents the culmination of many years of expertise in the field. So go ahead and use it for your own benefit too! As you’ll see, it will become a valuable resource for you as well. And if you have any questions, we would be delighted to answer them!

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May 12, 2022 by Frédéric Charest VP of Marketing

Data-driven Growth Marketer with a Passion for SEO - Driving Results through Analytics and Optimization