10 key success factors for an ERP Implementation
ERP selection is a tedious and time consuming task which takes a lot of decision making and consideration. ERP Implementation strategy and success is as important as the ERP selection. ERP Implementation is not easy and at majority of the companies the implementation gets delayed or it is a complete failure. ERP Implementation takes about 6 months to 1 year depending upon the ERP and the size of organization and its processes. Whatever the size of ERP or organization, there are some key success factors that should be kept in mind before, during and after implementation.
1. Clear Definition of the Scope of Project
An ERP implementation project starts with scope of project. It is the responsibility of all the stake holders to clearly identify the requirements and expectations from ERP solution and create the scope accordingly. If not done properly, it will lead to client frustrations at a later stage.
2. Top Management Support
An organization’s success is driven by the vision of top management and by the team following the vision. ERP implementation itself is a challenge for an organization as well as the implementation partners. Convincing and satisfying top management is really necessary throughout the project. If top management is convinced and satisfied, top management will support the project in every way. Implementation partners should strive continuously to get support from the top management.
3. Reorganization of Processes and Operations
With ERP implementation, change is inevitable. Change will come and user must be mentally prepared to embrace that change. There will be processes that will be re-engineered, there will be operational level changes. Users should be well prepared for the reorganization of the processes. The implementation partner should make sure the requirements are documented well and the changes need to be communicated to the users properly.
4. Co-operation of Employees/Users
One of the main purpose of ERP is to ease the difficult processes and to streamline business process. Employees are the owners of their processes and so they are the best source of any information required related to that process. Users should understand that their cooperation is directly proportional to the success of the implementation. ERP team should make sure that employees are cooperating.
5. User Training
User is usually reluctant to change and accept the change. Training the user is not an easy job, so user training should be planned very well so that user is first mentally prepared to learn. Training should be given to the users well before the Golive so the user should have enough time to digest the information.
6. Thorough System Testing
When I used to work as Microsoft vendor, I remember that if a code takes 2 days to code, then depending on the test cases it would take 3 days for testing. Testing is very important. With every small change in code or configuration, the whole functionality needs to be tested again. Just to make sure that the functionality works perfect. A thorough testing of the ERP is a must at every customization and configuration phase. Not only should ERP functionality testing is required, but the server, client, connection, and integration points all needs to be tested very well before GoLive and post GoLive is a change is done. This is not only responsibility of implementation partner but also the internal resource of client.
7. GoLive strategy
A GoLive strategy is very important part in the ERP Implementation. If you don’t have a strategy, there is a high probability that you will fail. Plan the GoLive by looking at the completion of the activities, user satisfaction, user training and testing. The user should know what to expect during GoLive and what the user should complete on their part. Both users and implementation partners should be done with the pre-requisites of the GoLive.
In every project communication is very important because this the only way, each party will highlight any issues and solutions. Follow up with users and partners on their tasks seems quite obvious, but once the project is in final stages there is more concentration towards the future activities. Don’t forget to follow-up on the pending tasks and issues.
9. Timely progress meetings
Progress meetings between the users and ERP team plays an important role in the success. Regular meetings should be held in order to track the problems and progress and then give a solution to the problems in timely manner.
10. IT Infrastructure
You might be thinking that this is an obvious thing “IT infrastructure”. The implementation partner should make sure that the IT infrastructure at the organization is enough to cater the needs of the ERP because ERP suite comes with huge investments in servers, software licenses, bandwidth needs and machine requirements. Trust me if IT infrastructure is weak and proves to be hindrance in the development and deployment of ERP, the implementation partners and users might get frustrated. This may ultimately lead to failure or delay in the project. The ERP Team should ensure that IT department should be informed of the ERP requirements. IT department should make sure that the requirements are fulfilled beforehand.
To ensure that these success factors are take care of, some organizations have created internal ERP team with ERP expertise and project management experience. In some companies there is MIS department that has the right person to manage the project. The successful implementation not only ends here, but maintaining the ERP after implementation is equally important. I have been through an implementation life cycle and have experienced all of these factors.