Define and specify ERP implementation best practices

Companies should consider what best practices to adopt and implement when choosing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

By Brian Potts February 14, 2019

Software vendors have adopted the term “best practices” almost to the point of exhaustion, claiming there is no need to worry about business processes during a software implementation since they bring “best in class” functionality to the table. Sounds good in theory, but many companies still don’t truly understand what this means to their business.

Merriam-Webster defines best practice as: “A procedure that has been shown by research and experience to produce optimal results and that is established or proposed as a standard suitable for widespread adoption.”

Four things to consider before adopting best practices

Again, at face value this sounds like something every business should adopt. However, consider a few things first:

1. Software best practices and Industry best practices are not the same thing.

When your software vendor touts “best practices,” ask them more specifically what they are referring to. In many cases, they are referring to ways their software has been standardized for use in certain industries. This is not necessarily the same as general industry best practice because software can be limited. Even the top enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in the market are not necessarily able to deliver what’s best for your industry.

2. Best practices must be specific.

If you run a distribution company, you need more than “distribution” software or best practices. There are many ways to run a distribution company based on product, geography, supply chain, and numerous other factors. Best practices that pertain to your organization will vary depending on each of these factors. There could essentially be thousands of combinations of processes and assumptions that determine your company’s state of best practice. A software vendor, therefore, who claims to bring “distribution” best practices may not necessarily offer what you need.

3. Best practices can change.

Not long ago, using carbon paper for executing contracts was considered a best practice. Technology evolved and allowed a better way of doing things. Technology, regulations and other forms of innovation make the concept of “best practice” ever changing. Software vendors and ERP system integrators may be bringing stale or genericized functionality to the table and still call it “best practice.”

4. Best practices do not create competitive advantage.

General best practices standardize, they do not differentiate. Consider the fact that your business may in fact be in possession of processes that are actually better than the standard “best practice”. This is more common than most people think and nearly every company we have ever visited has had some unique processes where bringing in industry “best practice” would actually dilute their competitive advantage.

Be sure to define where you want and need standardization and where you may already have an internal competitive advantage before jumping on the best practice bandwagon. A consultant can help if you are not certain on how to differentiate or define these differences.

Brian Potts, chief operating officer, Third Stage Consulting Group, a CFE Media content partner. This article originally appeared on Third Stage Consulting’s blog.

Original content can be found at

Author Bio: Brian Potts, chief operating officer, Third Stage Consulting Group