Implementing a fully integrated ERP platform into your business is no easy feat. Depending on the complexity of the system, this process may have taken months from when you initially made the
decision to invest in the new technology. Hopefully the software vendor you elected to work with has a strong implementation process in place that enables effective data migration and installation. However, as smooth as the implementation may go, it is not without hard work and maintaining strong communication channels with the vendor. In addition, once the implementation is complete and the ‘go-live’ date has come and gone, the hard work has not come to an end. It is at this point when you must ensure that your company is realizing the business benefits you sought in the first place. Here are 3 tips to help accomplish this:
Once the champagne is finished and your company has settled in with its new ERP system, it is always good practice to perform a post-implementation analysis. This involves managers attempting to uncover how effectively employees are using the system and determine if any additional training is required on certain modules of the system. This is often considered good practice as it helps avoid any bad habits being developed when using the system. In addition, management needs to investigate whether or not third party applications are interacting appropriately with the system. For example, some ERP systems allow salespeople to connect using a mobile sales application for order-taking when they are on the road or at tradeshows. In this case, it is incredibly important to ensure that the two applications are connected so no order is missed and your salesperson is able to offer exceptional service to clientele. Moreover, a post-implementation analysis of this nature is beneficial as it helps to uncover any gaps that exist between the system and your own business processes.
Developing a Maintenance and Support Strategy
In addition to a post-implementation analysis, a defined procedure for maintenance and support should be established. As such, it is management’s responsibility to develop a plan of action for when any support issues arise. This will help to avoid problems such as more than one person calling the support line with the same issue. One best practice to follow is having the person who worked closely with the implementation consultant to call in with any support issues as they already have an established relationship together. However, this only works with vendors who provide personalized support and is an important factor to consider when selecting a system. Maintenance is another important aspect of any ERP platform. Software maintenance usually entails installing software updates and upgrades from the vendor. As a result, careful consideration must be placed into recognizing and scheduling certain dates and times for these updates/upgrades to take place.
Think Big Picture
Inherent in ERP software are a number of benefits such as inventory management, contact/customer management, and many more. Aside from the more specific features, one of the main reasons a company will install a new system is to usher in a new era of productivity by replacing older and often stagnant processes. It is important to always keep this in mind as time passes and to always think proactively on how to make further enhancements. For example, many strong systems offer the ability to create customizable reports either within the system or using a spreadsheet application such as Excel. Therefore, this involves sitting down periodically and brainstorming different information that would be beneficial to have on-hand when making business decisions and then working with your implementation consultant to build a report to provide that data. In addition, many software vendors provide customers with access to a library of training videos and other helpful documentation. It is wise to review these items periodically as either a refresher on system functionality or as a way to uncover new ways to use the software and attempt to incorporate this into your business.
The ERP implementation is only the beginning for your business. In order to reap the full organizational benefits it is important complete a post-implementation analysis, develop a support/maintenance strategy, and always think big picture and remember why the business purchased and installed software in the first place.