An ERP implementation is a task that can take a few months and thousands of dollars to complete, so it only makes sense to lay out a well-planned strategy beforehand. This strategy should describe not only your goals, resource allocations, and other similar details, but it should also be informed by expertise and careful thought. The truth is that success isn’t guaranteed with an ERP implementation, so it pays to think through every single step.
This is why many companies decide to use a NetSuite partnership to guide them through the process. They can take advantage of another firm’s experience, plus they don’t have to drain their own resources in order to build a comprehensive project team. Instead, they can work together with the implementation partner for increased chances of success.
Best Practices for an ERP Implementation
A thoroughly developed plan is essential, but it’s also just one part of the puzzle. These are some factors to keep in mind as you approach your ERP implementation.
Regardless of what phase of implementation you’re in, communication is key. From project managers, to senior executives, to end users, everyone in the organization should be in regular communication with the implementation team. The actual level of communication will vary for everyone, but nobody should be kept in the dark. It may seem like end users don’t really need regular updates until the later stages, but this would be a misstep. The changes that will eventually be rolled out will affect their day-to-day workflows, so it’s important that they have a stake in the process from the beginning.
Another aspect of this is that the communication should go both ways. As different modules and capabilities are tested (and eventually deployed), the implementation team should listen to feedback of any and all kinds. This can serve to uncover glitches, and even reveal the need for further customization in some cases.
Plan the data migration process carefully
If a company has been in existence for more than a couple years, their data files could likely use some cleaning up. However, plenty of that data will still have to be migrated to the new system – and that data should be chosen carefully. This is a chance to increase data integrity, so a concrete plan would be helpful. From obsolete order information to outdated supplier lists, some parts of the database simply don’t need to be migrated. It’s also essential to avoid migrating duplicate or inaccurate data, which is easy to do with a wholesale data migration.
Training and support are integral
Assuming an implementation plan is in place, the biggest part of it will be deployment. However, that shouldn’t be the end of the plan – far from it. This might feel like the culmination of months’ worth of effort, and in a sense that’s true, but you can’t expect to deploy the new system and call it a day. It’s likely that end-user training will have to be continued for a while afterwards, and various support functions (like troubleshooting and receiving feedback) will have to be performed as well. All of this will need allocated resources in order to keep going, so that should be taken into account during the early stages of planning. If you want to take advantage of the system’s true potential, training and support should be prioritized.
Don’t rush the planning phase
It’s easy to get excited about all the possibilities once the new ERP has been deployed. However, it’s important that the project team doesn’t get ahead of themselves. A well-developed plan will serve as the foundation for everything that comes after, so if you want a good result, start with a good plan. This includes securing high-level backing, establishing clarity for every stage, allocating personnel and budget, and setting completion dates for each stage.
ERP Implementation Stages FAQ
Given how complex an ERP implementation is, many people have similar questions about the process. Here are some of the most common ones.
What’s the first stage of ERP integration?
That would be the planning and discovery stage. This is when the project team is formed, and the plan is developed that will guide the remainder of the process. Current issues will be identified, along with possible solutions.
How long is an ERP implementation life cycle?
That depends on how complex the integration process is. Simpler implementations can take several weeks, while the more complicated ones can take up to a year. In any case, the implementation life cycle would include planning and discovery, design and development, support, training, and deployment. Even after deployment, though, support and training will continue for another several weeks to months.
Is executive sponsorship really essential for an ERP implementation?
Without executive sponsorship from day one, the entire project could struggle from start to finish – or even end up dead in the water. An ERP implementation has to compete for resources, often against daily necessities that may take priority. This being the case, having an executive sponsor to ensure that the project is adequately funded is crucial.
What’s the difference in implementation phases using on-premise vs. cloud ERP?
The phases will stay the same, but some of the activities will obviously be different. For example, an on-premise deployment will require the setup of additional equipment or even the expansion of facilities in order to house the extra equipment. An on-premise installation could also lengthen the total implementation time.
What’s the best way to avoid delays?
Perhaps the most important step to prevent delays is to put plenty of time and effort into the first phase. With a solid plan to guide implementation efforts, you won’t have to waste time pausing and recalculate because of unclear goals.
There’s no doubt that an ERP implementation is a huge undertaking, but even if your company has no experience, there are still ways to ensure success. As long as you rely on expert guidance and don’t rush the process, you can look forward to seeing your company experience the many benefits of ERP.