While working with companies on ERP implementation (in our case, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central), what I tend to notice more often than not is that companies know what they want to get out of ERPs, but not how to do it. The result is that managers create their own chaos that makes people go in different directions. It also means that internal managers often sabotage their own ERP implementations.
This article is part of a series regarding how internal managers can implement better new ERP systems.
All roads lead to Rome; but some of them are more steady than the others.
Common System for a Common Goal
It’s not rocket science: when companies decide to switch to a new ERP/accounting software to address specific problems they’re facing, it’s for a specific reason. Usually, it’s because they have reached the limits of their current software, or it would be too expansive to do otherwise.
While the new ERP offers a positive cost-benefit outcome, managers need to come up with common goals when implementing the new system to ensure a successful implementation if they want to avoid a mutually assured destruction
After companies shop and find the perfect system for them, the steps that follow typically are planning, configuring and then implementing the software.
One modest but extremely important goal, in most cases, is to just go live with the system. Even though this is a simple and vague goal, it allows parties involved to be working on the same objective, which is to go from the old, legacy software to the new one. It also means transfering crucial information to the new system the way that fits your company’s culture and ways of working.
Here are the do’s and don’t when it comes to implementing a new ERP system.
Too Much Potential is like Too Little
There’s one thing managers need to keep in mind while implementing a new ERP system: time is money. The potential offered by the new software may appear limitless; but while this perception of infinite improvement may prenail for a while, having too high expectations from this change could have the very opposite effect.
This is why a strategy is necessary.
A new ERP could help your company with (but is not limited to):
- Better information for customers
- Process re-engineering
- Better analysis/reporting for management
While the ultimate goal of going to a new software is to make everything better, too much of a good thing may turn out to be bad.
Think about it: more often than not, vendors promise the moon to their clients. When a manager watches the software’s demo, he/she will think the possibilities are infinite. But often, the honeymoon phase doesn’t last. But keep in mind that these people are salespeople, and your company needs to have a down-to-earth, strategic approach on how to implement the software. Make sure you know from the beginning what your company wants to get from the system, so you know what to prioritize.
This is when the software genius comes in, and the learning curve starts to go up. Shortly after the product is acquired, the manager will look at it, learn about the new features to figure out how they can benefit the company. Suddenly, so many problems the company had with the new system are going to be solved. Suddenly, a whole new world is going to be opened to your company. Then, an infinite list of ideas will come out of the manager’s expectation of this new system.
One thing to keep in mind when implementing a new ERP is that when working with developers, they are likely to say yes to most of your requests. Developers tend to see every request from a customer as a challenge, without necessarily thinking about budgets.
The result: developers overpromise and managers run wild.
To avoid this situation, having a specific end goal in mind, with specific areas to improve is the solution.
Most people do cost-benefit analysis based on the cost and the improvements that it would bring. However, the time to get it up and running is often overlooked.
When you start a bunch of projects, especially during a period of high stress such as moving to a new system, you end up stretching your resources very thin. Too often, resources are stretched indefinitely and the end goal is so evasive that even the manager tends to forget it.
This is why successful ERP implementations begin with specific, realistic goals that fit your company’s culture and needs, and will save you time and money.
I’ve worked with many companies in the process of implementing new software. While I have a complete confidence that they improve the companies’ efficiency and in the long-run make everybody’s life better, my experience has shown that not having a full-length implementation strategy can cost time and energy; and since time is money, investing in time-saving strategies is the way to go.
It’s simple: focus on the main task at hand. Go one step at the time. While it may take slightly more time, the end result will be less confusion and better results.
The last thing you want, when implementing a new system, is to yield fear and uncertainty.
Fear and uncertainty lead to failure.
Strategy, coherence, and preparedness lead to success.