What to Expect …. When Implementing an ERP System
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems seem to be the new “vogue” for smart business management and growth. The benefits are obvious: integrated analytics, real-time tracking of manufacturing, supply chains, etc., improved customer service, and many other positive aspects.
The one major challenge is that ERP systems are a serious investment and a lot of time, money, and work go into implementing them… So how do you decide whether or not to take the plunge?
First, you need a clear, succinct, and defensible reason for implementing an ERP system. It is easy to list off general benefits, like we did in the first paragraph, but you should know specifically what ERP systems can do and ask yourself: “Does my company need an ERP system now? Will the features that an ERP system offer truly be beneficial to my operations?” Be honest and be specific. Don’t try to talk yourself into making a big investment that won’t give you enough return on investment to justify the cost.
If you decide that an ERP system is truly the way to go for your business at this time, the next step is research. There are numerous options when it comes to choosing an ERP system, and they are not one-size-fits-all. Look for an ERP system with the flexibility to change as your business changes. You will keep an ERP system for a long time, so rather than just thinking about what your business looks like today, imagine what it will look like two to five years from now – does the ERP system you are considering have the capacity to grow with you?
After you make a final decision about which ERP system to purchase and implement, it’s time to look into features. Each ERP system comes with a basic set of features, but a good ERP implementation requires a human touch – features can be customized, data sets need to be entered, reports need to be designed, etc. Without customizing the software for your business, you won’t get the ROI you need to make the ERP system a worthwhile investment.
You’ll also have the opportunity to choose how to implement the software. You can do so without any outside help, or you can choose to utilize the assistance of a consultant. Consultants can come from the ERP software company itself, or through a software reseller, or through any number of channels. While it is less expensive upfront to attempt an implementation alone, most companies do better investing in an ERP that comes with support and will generally experience a better return on investment
You must also take note that purchasing and implementing an ERP system isn’t simply an information technology project. ERP systems completely change how you do business. It changes, for example, how your employees interact with each other, with supervisors, with vendors, and with customers. It changes how information is sent and received. It changes the way inventory is handled and the way the manufacturing process is supervised and the way orders are taken, etc. All of this change can cause frustration and resistance among your employees. Make sure your staff is aware of the large-scale changes that are about to take place, and remember to include training as a criterion for success.
Finally, be prepared to invest time into this process. An ERP system implementation can take anywhere from six months to a year to successfully complete, and it might be even longer before you see any ROI.
Enterprise resource planning systems are amazing technological platforms that allow your company to do more than you’ve ever dreamed – but implementing and using them isn’t always easy. Contact Mantralogix for the human touch you need to make your ERP implementation a success. Also, don’t forget to check out our post on Five Tips on Hiring a New ERP System.