How to Create a Successful ERP System Implementation Plan

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is very complex because you have a comprehensive suite of modules that are designed to serve as a company’s digital core.

An ERP system features a single centralized database that delivers an overarching view of a company’s digital assets. It is common to see modules for a diverse range of business functions, including the following.

  • Accounting and Financing
  • Human Resources
  • Manufacturing
  • eCommerce and Retail
  • Sales and Procurement
  • Inventory and Logistics

In addition to these modules, it is common to have analytics and reporting features that provide company leaders with an overarching view of the business and its operations.

To add to the complexity, there are numerous ERP software developers including SAP and Oracle. These developers create ERP platforms that run on-premise and in the cloud.

The net effect is a complex piece of software that demands a lot of expertise in order to achieve a smooth ERP system implementation plan. But where do you begin? How do you achieve a successful ERP system implementation plan?

Selecting the Right ERP Software and Platform

The first step to a successful ERP implementation is the selection of the right enterprise resource planning software for your company’s needs.

It can help to work with an experienced ERP implementation partner who can help guide you to the best platform for your needs. Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, and beyond — they all offer something different, and navigating these offerings can be a challenge. That’s why it is beneficial to work with an expert who knows the pros and cons of each interface.

Cloud-Based vs On-Premise ERP Platforms

With many of today’s ERP software systems, your selection of ERP system will typically dictate whether it’s going to run in the cloud or on-premise.

On-premise ERP platforms can offer some advantages in terms of security, but cloud-based ERP systems tend to surpass on-premise solutions in all other ways including:

  • Cost
  • Scalability
  • Speed and ease of Implementation

That’s right — cloud-based ERP implementations are typically much faster and easier to implement because you have a cloud-based environment that can be configured in a matter of hours. An on-premise server takes much longer to configure, resulting in a much slower implementation process.

Identifying Training and Hiring Needs

As you develop an ERP system implementation plan, consider your organization’s needs for training in order to help drive user adoption. Training is perhaps the most important component of an organization’s ERP implementation plan.

Rolling out a new system has little impact if nobody uses it. The struggle is real with enterprise software platforms because you have a profoundly complex and multifaceted system that is difficult to learn and navigate.

An organization should create a comprehensive plan to accommodate different user roles and capabilities. More than a little guidance is required in order to find success, so training should be a major component of any ERP system implementation plan.

Additionally, companies need to evaluate whether or not they are going to need to hire ERP professionals. For companies who either don’t have experienced ERP employees or don’t have enough of them, prioritizing a plan for addressing this should be part of your ERP system implementation plan.

Data Migration as Part of a Successful ERP Implementation Plan

Data plays a very central role in your organization. In fact, your data may be one of the most valuable assets that your company possesses. Sales data, customer data, financial data, website data — there are numerous forms of data that a company may utilize in the course of its operations. As such, all of this data must be migrated to the ERP platform’s database prior to deployment and implementation.

Data migration can be challenging, so this is a task that ought to be supervised. This will maximize your chances of maintaining a clean, trustworthy data set that your business can utilize well into the future.

Identifying Integrations Prior to ERP Implementation

Integrations are a vital part of the ERP implementation process. Integrations allow an enterprise software platform to connect with other third-party systems, many of which cannot be replaced or eliminated.

These integrations are inherently complex in nature and it is not uncommon for an organization to require dozens of different integrations for their ERP platform. This makes ERP implementation a challenge since you risk discovering a missing integration after the rollout. For this reason, it is prudent to connect with representatives from throughout your organization to identify any and all platforms that require integration prior to the implementation phase.

ERP Platform Testing as Part of a Successful Implementation Plan

ERP systems are highly customized and there is no such thing as a standard implementation or deployment. For this reason, it is essential that your organization performs progressive testing to ensure that all features and functionalities are in order. Otherwise, you risk launching a difficult-to-use interface that requires repairs that are disorienting for users.

Crafting an Intuitive ERP Workflow

Enterprise software systems require significant customization, with an interface that aligns with operational needs and user workflows. This comes with challenges, of course, due to the unique nature of these processes.

Prior to implementation, take the time to analyze workflows and develop a software solution that will meet user needs in a way that is both intuitive and efficient. Only then can you develop training materials and documentation that will support users during the rollout.

Mobile Accessibility to Your ERP Platform

Evaluating your organization’s needs for access is important because a cloud-based ERP system is going to be more mobile-friendly than an on-premise interface.

For organizations where smartphones are an important part of the business process flow, you’ll want to choose mobile-friendly cloud technology to help drive user adoption and prevent downtime. This is an important consideration as you progress with developing an ERP system implementation plan.

User training is one of the most challenging aspects of implementation and the most successful approach entails training that continues beyond the initial rollout. This allows users to continually learn, thereby aligning with the complex nature of enterprise software systems.

At Cox-Little, we specialize in guiding clients through their ERP implementations. Enterprise software carries many complexities that are difficult to navigate; our experts are available to help guide you toward success. This maximizes an organization’s chances of seeing a successful ERP rollout.