Eight ERP implementation best practices

Most manufacturers judge an enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation by the initial expense, ongoing operating or maintenance costs, return on investment, and time-to-value.


Photo by Alexa Mazzarello on UnsplashMost manufacturers judge an ERP implementation by the initial expense, ongoing operating or maintenance costs, return on investment, and time-to-value.

In today’s competitive business climate, we suggest an even more rigorous focus on enterprise software implementation that tracks additional metrics like disruptions in operations, impact on productivity, and level of ERP adoption across the enterprise.

Noted here are eight top considerations to keep in mind before embarking on your ERP implementation to avoid cost over-runs, time delays, disruptions in operations and more.

ERP implementation best practices

1. Assessing the team and the load on company resources

Picture this scene – the business transformation journey is nearing completion. You’ve worked hard to document your current processes, and you’ve done due diligence evaluating software from the top vendors and have identified the winner.

You are tempted to sit back and relax, but the implementation part of the journey looms. Don’t be despondent.

If handled well, with the right level of commitment from the project team, the implementation will succeed.

Some questions to consider:

  • Have you identified the subject matter experts related to configuration and process definition during the set-up of each process?
  • Are the internal and external teams aligned on project responsibilities, i.e., master data, system configuration, training and education, business process decisions?
  • Is a good communications strategy in place to deal with change management challenges?
  • Is there a good project plan with identified stages and a regular schedule of cadence calls with all the team members involved?

2. Assessing complexity, risk, and data integration challenges

Consider these questions: 

  • Does your team have a strategy for dealing with data migration? What will you do with historic data? How will you prioritize which data is important to migrate?
  • Are these some complexities in processes that the new system would enable you to reduce or eliminate?
  • Is the team open-minded about changes to business processes? Have you identified a champion for change?

3. Reviewing project management

Some questions to consider:

  • Should you use an internal project manager – or would you be better served by ERP services from an outside consultant?
  • Do you have the expertise in-house to handle the ERP project management responsibilities?

4. Configuring the future state

It’s very tempting when considering new technology to merely identify features and functions that users would like. A better approach is to think in terms of process improvement. This includes considering downstream and upstream communication and how the process could be improved overall.

5. Testing the system with end-users

A key step in implementation is end-user testing. Do not minimize this. The most successful companies take the “measure twice, cut once” approach to technology implementation. Best practice implementation methodologies emphasize multiple conference room pilots to test the system. If the system is going to work, it’s vital that the users are exposed to rigorous testing using process scripts that match the future state definition. Don’t be afraid to let users try the full capabilities of the system – it’s a test. They won’t break it.

6. Converting data

Decision time: how much data do you really need to bring over? How “clean” is the data? Be very selective and ensure that the quality of the data is high; clean up any errors or duplications.

7. Driving performance improvements

We spoke about “configuring the future state” – we can’t underestimate the value of setting goals for performance improvement that can be measured after the go-live. Capture key performance indicators for your enterprise as part of your current state analysis – then compare them to a new set of key performance indicators (KPIs) after using the new technology for some time. Celebrate the business process transformation – this will serve as motivation as you use the technology and increase its value.

8. Experiencing change management

We all have them – the team members that drive positive change, and those that want things to stay the same. It’s natural. The key to a successful transformation is to identify which members of the team are in which camp, and develop a strategy where the motivation for change comes from the positive side. Celebrate the small efforts for change. Invite the naysayers to share their concerns openly and help them to find neutral or positive ground in their situations. A third party or independent consultant can have tremendous effect here because they offer a broader perspective on the benefits of change.

Following these eight ERP implementation best practices will make the business transformation journey be a successful one.

Martin Davis is a consultant at Ultra Consultants. This article originally appeared on Ultra Consultants' Blog. Ultra Consultants is a CFE Media content partner.

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