How to implement an ERP system – 5 steps to success

13 March 2024 by
How to implement an ERP system – 5 steps to success
Giovanni Fariselli

How do you know if your business is ready for a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system?  Well, there are a few common tell-tale signs:

  • Excessive reliance on Excel spreadsheets for critical operations.
  • A jigsaw puzzle of non-integrated third-party apps.
  • Overdependence on key personnel for their unique knowledge.
  • A business model where growth equals more headcount.
  • Challenges in inventory management across multiple locations.
  • An abundance of manual, time-consuming processes.
  • Unhappy customers due to poor service delivery.

If these challenges resonate with you, then it might be time to chart a new course.

Embarking on the journey to modernise your business management system is a significant step towards untangling the frustrations of disjointed, inefficient processes and uncooperative third-party applications. Not to mention keeping your customers satisfied and your business growing.

But it is not an easy process. If you are looking for some proven and practical strategies for ERP implementation, here are the steps.

Step 1: Define your needs

  • Dream big – Imagine the ideal state of your business operations. What unique needs must your new ERP system address?
  • Be succinct yet thorough in identifying your must-haves.
  • Nominate a dedicated internal Project Manager.
  • Lean on your network and conduct thorough research to shortlist potential ERP implementation partners.
  • Request detailed proposals from shortlisted partners, paying close attention to the quality and comprehensiveness of their responses, and not just the features listed.

Step 2: Selecting your ERP solution and implementation partner

  • Narrow down to 3-6 vendors. Engage in in-depth demos, focusing on critical aspects of the product relevant to your business and the knowledge depth of the presenting consultant.
  • Evaluate potential partners based on their experience with the product, implementation track record, solution fit, and cost effectiveness.

 Step 3: Working with your partner to implement your vision

  • Prioritise implementation of core functionalities first. Clearly document existing processes for mapping onto the new ERP system. Set clear milestones to track progress.
  • Conduct comprehensive testing, refining and make necessary adjustments. Develop your go-live strategy that includes data migration and staff training to ease the transition.
  • Appoint a Project Champion to work closely with the implementation team. Getting their buy-in is crucial for success.
  • Look for a balance between customisation and adapting your processes to the ERP system's strength. Working with a standard ERP configuration reduces maintenance costs and rethinking your internal processes can sometimes unlock previously unrealised efficiencies. 

That being said, if changing processes is not possible or not beneficial from a business perspective, customisations may be the only way to go.

Step 4: Launch time

  • Carefully plan your go-live date to minimise disruption, ensuring a smooth transition from old systems to new ideally without the need for parallel runs.
  • Provide intensive support to your team through the initial go-live phase, offering training and patience as they get used to the new system.

Step 5: Reaping the rewards

Celebrate the successful implementation of a system that brings increased efficiency, cost savings, and sets a strong foundation for the future.

This journey to a new ERP system is about more than just escaping the frustration of incompatible apps and inefficient processes; it's about setting your business up for sustained success. Choose your ERP partner wisely to ensure a smooth and rewarding experience ahead.

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