When is the Best Time to Implement ERP Software?

Mark Canes

In a previous blog post, we asked: When is the Right Time to Buy ERP Software - a post highlighting some symptoms of an inventory and accounting system that no longer adds value to your business processes.  In response to the question, the right time to consider purchasing new ERP software is when, or ideally before, your business can no longer efficiently or effectively manage your daily operations.  This includes your system's inability to process new sales orders in a timely manner, an increase in back orders because of inventory management issues, and staff not being able to complete their daily tasks without overtime. Although your current system's ability to perform and add value to your business is the first concern when evaluating a new system, there are also specific times in your business cycle that are more conducive to implementing new inventory and accounting software.

There are many nightmare stories about failed ERP implementations, and many factors are at the root of these. To increase the likelihood of a successful implementation, there may be certain times which, if selected, are likely to ease the implementation:

  1. Implement during a slower period of business.  By implementing during your slow period, you are able to dedicate more time and attention to the implementation.  There are fewer distractions and tasks requiring immediate attention, so employees are more focused on understanding the software and learning how it works.  Fewer distractions lead to a higher implementation success rate.
  2. Implement and train in incremental installments. We are only human, so trying to absorb all the information and knowledge passed on by implementation consultants all at once is a tall order; this is better done in small increments.  This approach also allows employees to ask more questions and clarify anything they don’t fully understand.
  3. Implement smaller businesses first.  If you have multiple companies under a parent company that will need to be transitioned onto the new software, start with a smaller subsidiary of the parent company.  This will allow you to learn and iron out any issues before moving onto the bigger ones.  In addition, it may lead to better efficiencies as you learn how to navigate any roadblocks you may have hit with the smaller subsidiary.
  4. Implement when your organizational structure is sound.  If your business is going through an organizational change, for example, additional staff are being hired, or a key employee is taking maternity leave, wait to implement.  It is important that roles are fully defined and understood before beginning the implementation and training process.  If employees are more focused on their changing roles within the organization or are not entirely sure about their responsibilities, they will not be as focused on the implementation and could miss learning about processes that play an integral role in their job.

Although there may never be a perfect time to implement new ERP software, there are certain times that will be better than others.  As any business owner knows, trying to wait until the perfect moment may mean that you’re waiting forever, but if you can at least implement according to a few of the points mentioned above your chances of success will be improved.