Implementing a ERP Project
Reading this now, you are probably either (1) interested to implement a project in the near future or (2) you might have already started one. If you are in one of the two, then you are in the right place.
Just so that we are on the same page, implementing a system is usually deemed as a business project and this typically involves:
- Using an ERP (or equivalent) system for the first time
- Migrating from one ERP system to a new one
- Upgrading existing features or modules within the ERP system
While this is not a difficult task, it can be daunting if you are new to it.
The worst thing that can happen is when you read about stories of how projects have gone wrong and some businesses have had to “write off” the project before it was completed (Yes, it’s no joke when you have spent half a million (or more) and you still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel).
Hence, the aim of this sharing is to help identify, demystify and simplify some of the implementation processes. More often than not, with some small (but significant) pointers, that could have easily eliminated some of the problems and it would already make a huge difference.
Hopefully, with some of the tips and suggestions here, many can implement ERP projects successfully.
21 Tips & Sharing that you Will Want to Remember
We’ve broken down a project into a few areas where you should have serious considering before, during and after your ERP implementation. With that, let’s have a look at them.
Before You Start
#1 – Get a Project Manager. While we written an article on this topic, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of having a good project manager that will help manage and deliver your ERP implementation. This is the first thing you should consider if you’re seriously going to implement an ERP system.
#2 – Tidy up your Processes. Start cleaning up your processes before you start the ERP system. Or else, you might get fickle about it and you’ll confuse your vendor (and yourself) when asked to explain about the processes that the system will cover fit in.
#3 – Schedule it before you start. Get your vendor to come out with a timetable (even if it’s a rough one), add some buffer and sign on it.
#4 – Get your business owner involve. If you want your implementation to go well, get the business owners involve from the start.
#5 – Highlight the Challenging Areas. Make sure to tidy up your processes, then review them. You want to pin point the areas that are operationally challenging as well as challenging to implement. While both may seem similar, they may not necessarily be the same thing.
#6 – Announce Your Plans. Make sure that everyone in the company is aware that you are about to start a ERP project and that may affect many departments within the company. Of course, some departments may not be affected but at least they won’t get caught by surprise if there’s a sudden request for information.
#7 – Running numbers will make your life easier later. Start planning the running numbers that you want to use for your various processes. Have the right format will make your life a breeze or the other way round. Having year and months in the running number is an easy start E.g. INV1801XXX1. I also use different Prefixes for different operations E.g. DO-XXX1 versus GI-XXX1.
#8 – Get a Data Manager. Before you even start using your system, an important aspect to consider is controls. And the key to analytics, monitoring and controls is have a clean and transparent database. Hence, get a data manage to manage this from the start.
#9 – Identify the technical savviness of your team/users. Find out how skilled is your team. Based on their technical savviness, you want incorporate or customise features that fit their level. Remember that they are the ones operating the system, not you (Just to be clear, just because you might have to simplify some of the features, it doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade later).
#10 – Run simulations. Are 100% sure that you have documented all the processes involved in your implementation? Most people think they are, and that’s usually where project fails. Why? Because they end up adding new requirements in the middle of the project. Hence, you want to run as many scenarios as possible in the hope that these simulations can trigger areas that you might have overlooked.
#11 –Save your Accounting for Last. There will be a few changes along the way and your accountant is the last person you want to annoy. Hence, keep the accounting module till the end when all product data and production costing have been finalised.
#12 – Get to know your Vendor. Likewise for vendors, get to know your customers. Projects are like a mini marriage and it’s about having a mutual understanding between two parties when you want to get things done. Hence, spend some time to get to know your vendor (and customer) so that the work will be much smoother.
#13 – Draw your process flow. Knowing the process flow is one thing, drawing it out so that everyone else can see is another. Unfortunately, many only know it in the head or within the internal team. It’s useless when it comes to implementation because everything should be on the same page. Hence, have the processes mapped out so that everyone is looking at the same thing.
#14 – Document all and any of the requirements, AND the sign off. Trust me, no matter how big or small the project, you want all stages documented. In the past, most of our project went sour because we did not document the initial requirement. And, the worst thing is, these were the very small projects which no one would have considered it to go bad.
#15 – K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple, stupid (and short). While having all your documents in tact is the right thing, keeping them simple and easy to use is another. This is how you can manage many things at the same time. For example, instead of writing a few paragraphs about the process, you can keep them in bullet points instead.
#16 – Itemise the Outcomes. As you start to implement your project, you will start to go into details of various aspects of the system. More often than not, many lose sight of the end goal and they forgot what they wanted when they started. At the same time, a one sentence statement of your end-goal may not be sufficient. Hence, start (as soon as you can) to itemise the outcome.
#17 – Prepare to Motivate. Be prepared that some of the members of the organisation will resist change and can add some friction to the implementation. The key is to be prepared that some level of motivation is required. Many resist out of fear of uncertainty. Hence, early communication is key.
#18 – Focus on the Goal. Projects can get delayed and that can be reasonably common. However, it gets worse if you focus on the wrong things. Hence, no matter what happens along the way, remain focused on the goal and keep moving forward.
#19 – Ignore the Noises. There will be people how will comment, complaint or just want to voice their opinion. Especially a family owned business where they are, in the end, just concerned for you. Expect that there will be noises but, again, remain focused on the goal.
#20 – Get the end user to test the system, not just the Project Manager. A User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is meant for users and not just the developers or PICs. If the end user does not perform the testing, you will definitely encounter issues in the future.
#21 – Pick a Quiet migration date. When migrating your systems to a live server, make sure to pick a date where no one is working (or at least a day where there’s very low operations). Migrations would required change of system environment and, very often, will require some additional testing after migration.