In doing some research on successful ERP implementations, I found a statistic on one of the websites I was going through that stated as of 2009 or 2010, around 50% of all implementations of companies with less than $200 million of revenues had not been successful. How could this happen? Implementing is not ‘rocket science’; however there are a few steps that are critical to a successful implementation. While doing the web research to kick off a project, on many sites you will find many of the same ideals and processes many partners will follow to be similar.
- They will all start with some planning. We have all heard the old adage, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. Get documentation of all business processes, document what works and doesn’t work presently, what must you have and would like to have from a new system would be starters. Also get input from many areas of the organization, if not all. Accounting, IT, Operations, Marketing, and Management should all have input. Request a demo of all products to show it can do what you think it should and ask lots of questions if you don’t see what you would like.
- The next step is purchasing the software. Once purchased, building the test environment follows by applying what was learned in the analysis and planning stage to a mock system. At this stage all processes are tested and ironed out so a solution can be rolled out.
- During the testing phase, be sure to test all critical processes so a high comfort level can be achieved with a go live.
- Once the testing is complete, go-live is scheduled.
- After go-live, support is the final phase. All go-lives’ experience some pains, but if the first steps are followed, and testing is thorough, then those pains are negligible.
What is the difference maker on these steps? My experience tells me there are 2 primary ones. The first is strong project management. With regard to project management, this needs to occur on both sides of the implementation. A project leader on the implementation side can make sure all the tasks are completed and be a voice between the VAR or Value Added Reseller and the end users. This person can be an outsider, or an employee, but it will take a significant amount of time for the duration of the project, so take that should be taken into account during the selection. A strong project manager on the VAR side is also important as the milestones that need to be met can be monitored and also they will be tasked with managing the project hours and the project scope. The project manager for the VAR can be the consultant but can also be a different individual in the organization. The bottom line is project management on both sides of the implementation is important.
The second differentiator is selecting the right VAR. Once the software selection is complete, make sure the synergies between your company and the VAR are good. Talk with other companies that have used them. Get some references of past implementations. Take into account experience of the team doing the implementation. Inexperienced consultants are not bad, but make sure there is some experience around them.
Final word is to have a successful implementation, do your due diligence, do thorough planning and testing, and select the right partner to go to task with.
By Dan Liebl, CMA CPIM - Sr. Consultant at OTT, Inc. www.ott-inc.com