Whether it was left under the tree or you managed to snag a vendor’s year-end closeout, getting a new ERP can be exciting. But like the new paint set you get for a 3-year old it can also cause a lot of stress if not managed correctly.
I recall a phone call I received several years ago from an organization who had purchased an Epicor system at a drastic year-end discount two years prior – and they had still not implemented. They had been paying maintenance the whole time due to poor contract negotiation, and they were already a release behind. They had basically purchased a system before they were ready to implement one.
While the allure of one of the top ERP systems and drastic license fee reduction can be appealing, we must remember that a system is worthless until it is implemented and functioning as needed.
So what steps need to be completed to make your new toy work? There are five primary workstreams that should be considered as you prepare to implement your new system:
Strategic and Executive Alignment: You have hopefully qualified and received budget approval for the new system, but before moving forward there needs to be clear understanding and agreement across the organization as to the purpose of this purchase. What needs it will be addressing and how does it align with the greater digital roadmap and strategic direction of the company. There may also need to be further budget discussion and clarification of the underlying business case.
Operational Readiness: A new ERP, no matter how you look at it will change the way business is done. There needs to be clarity on the level of process modification and who is responsible for managing business process changes. Ideally an impact analysis would be run at this time to document the actual levels of change and how operations will be run during and after implementation. One of the worst outcomes of an ERP implementation is the disruption of business.
People Readiness: Opening up the concept of Organizational Change Management (OCM), we all know by now that nothing will work if the users of the system as well as anyone else impacted by this change are not on board. If you have not started OCM activities by this time, start now by completing readiness assessments and mobilizing a change team as part of your organizational change management strategy.
Technical Readiness: This is one of the key factors outlined in our top digital transformation and ERP predictions for 2019. A number of questions to be addressed here:
- Is your infrastructure ready to handle a new system?
- Do you have the internal competencies needed to manage the new system?
- How will the system fit into the existing and future roadmap of systems, and how will integrations be managed?
- How is your data sitting, does it need to be standardized and cleansed, who will own the migration and are appropriate security measures in place?
- How will technical training be handled, and will there be a Center of Excellence model in place?
Planning and Governance: Before the system goes in you will need a clearly laid out implementation plan. This should include the different parties, roles and responsibilities, project charter, governance structure as well as risk mitigation plan. This plan should be owned by the implementing organization rather than the software vendor or system implementer, and ideally should be managed by an independent advisor.
As far as the time needed to complete these tasks it depends on the organization, the existing level of readiness and what has been completed so far. What we recommend is not skimping on these tasks as part of your best digital strategy for your organization before diving into an implementation. Much like the foundation work of a new home, proper preparation will save time, money and heartache down the road.