In my days as an ERP sales consultant, I had first-hand experience on how customers went about selecting and implementing ERP software. Here are some suggestions based on seeing projects that failed and succeeded, and how the successful ones started.
- Review industry trends – what direction is your industry taking; are major changes, like digitizing or 3-D printing, going to impact you?
Your business is considering an ERP purchase because you don’t want to be left behind, become uncompetitive, or lose customers. But you also need to look at how your industry is developing so that your software selection criteria will not only allow you to keep up, but stay ahead of the herd.
- Plan your business strategy – how will you adapt to and cope with the changes your industry is undergoing; have you decided to change how you do things?
You have looked at the industry dynamics and how you want to respond, now you need to translate that into some specific actions that will change the way your business works.
- Talk to customer and suppliers – what would make it easier for them to do business with you?
You know which customers and suppliers will give you a thoughtful and honest answer. They will have some perspectives and insights that you don’t have; they are also the people who will ensure your future growth and success.
- Talk to colleagues in other organizations who have been through the process already.
If you haven’t bought or sold a house for a while, you will probably first ask a few friends for some tips, the same applies to an ERP purchase. Even if you already have an ERP system, it’s probably many years since you installed it and things have changed, so don’t assume your previous selection process is still valid. Getting guidance from colleagues will help you avoid some common mistakes.
- Engage your staff – talk to company staff and get their buy-in.
It’s now a known fact that the success of an ERP project rides on the staff who use it. The earlier you start talking to your staff, sharing the vision and direction, and getting them on your side, the greater the chance your ERP project will be successful.
- Examine your business processes – learn how things actually get done in your business.
This is the concept of Management By Walking Around, popularized by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. You may think that you know the way the business operates, but until you start examining how people actually do their work, you won’t have the right foundation on which to make improvements or innovations to business processes.
- Review your performance measures – how do you perform against what you would like to do?
Having analyzed your business processes, review how do you perform on those processes? How could they be improved, or changed, so that the processes perform better than average.
- Create a short-list of business requirements and changes you want to achieve.
Review everything you have learnt from the previous steps. You should now have a good idea what are the key areas of the business that need to change. That will direct you on how you select an ERP solution.
- Fix an initial and approximate timeline for when you want to reach the requirements.
You won’t have all the information yet to make a final set of completion dates, but you need to start thinking about the timelines. As Eisenhower said: “I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
- Establish executive commitment – senior management must start allocating their time to the project and commit to continuing it; allocate a champion.
Executive commitment to an ERP project doesn’t just mean when the project is starting, it means staying involved during the implementation, and more importantly, once the systems is being used. SYSPRO refers to it as a “Seeker of Value” and have showcased some good examplesn