Choosing and implementing an enterprise resource planning system is a complex, expensive, time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Some common mistakes can turn a great idea into a disaster. Ultimately the best way to ensure that your ERP implementation runs as smoothly as possible is to do all of your homework beforehand. Here are five pitfalls to avoid on the road to integration.
1. Lack of Consistent Upper-Echelon Support
The Problem: Management says “We’re doing the ERP thing” and walks away.
The Solution: Moving to an ERP system requires management to ensure that the direction is embraced on all levels; people need to understand that the new system is going to help them do their jobs faster and better. If the infantry isn’t on the boat, the colonel is going to have a heck of a time taking the beach. Additionally, management has to support the project team by making sure it has the resources, financial and otherwise, to complete the project.
2. No Project Management
The Problem: The group responsible for the implementation is nonexistent or ineffectual and the project falls to the wayside.
The Solution: Choose the right group of people to comprise your implementation team. Members of the team must come as representatives from all relevant departments and make sure that the product selection and implementation process works for everyone. The team will produce and meet quantifiable objectives for the implementation and have the authority to carry out the pursuit of these objectives. The team must be held accountable by upper management for the progress of the project.
3. Insufficient Training and Education
The Problem: The installation of hardware and software is done, but now what?
The Solution: Once you’ve finished installing the hardware and software, the real hard part begins. Not only must new users be trained to operate the software, they must be educated to embrace the new software as a tool to do their jobs better, even if it requires users to change their habits and routines. The project team must make sure that the company is aware of the reasons for the changes in software to help make everyone more amenable to this gross interruption in their jobs.
4. Unwillingness to Adapt
The Problem: The new software will require a lot of changes on the human end of the equation.
The Solution: Never utter the words “but we’ve always done it this way.” Successfully implementing an ERP requires that people let go of the habits they have developed over the years and let the software take them where they need to go. If the inventory needs to be kept in the computer rather than on a sheet of paper tacked to the wall, so be it. ERP systems are like so many other things in life, you only get out of them what you put in.
5. Selecting the Wrong Software/Vendor
The Problem: Buying an ERP system is like buying a car: It’s expensive, and you’ll be stuck with what you get for a while.
The Solution: Research, research, research. Pick a vendor that has experience in your market niche and business size. Don’t let the vendor tell you that his manufacturing software can be converted to work in a retail setting if there is no existing proof. Pick a software that does what you need it to do and can handle increasing volume as your business grows. Also, avoid locking yourself into a proprietary system.