Five ERP implementation best practices

It’s critical to have knowledge of the best practices and best enterprise technologies available on the market today. Following this guide will help improve the outcome of enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation projects.


The following five areas below provide details on best practices in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation and what to notice and watch out for.

1. Start with insight

As a company embarks on an ERP project, the first resource from your ERP implementation best practices guide is to identify and select independent guidance and experience. At this juncture, it's important to understand how a software implementation vendor differs from an independent consultant. The primary mission of the software implementation vendor is to configure the software and reach the go-live status.

The goal of the independent consulting organization is to focus on business process transformation and industry best practices. From the beginning of the project, an independent consultant makes sure that the desired future state and business transformation goals are built into the solution. The consultant identifies any gaps between generic software and industry best practices and then drives gap-closure activities to satisfy the business expectations.

2. Choose the right methodology

Recently, there seems to be two different implementation methodologies: the traditional method and the turnkey method. Best practices require a company fully understands the chosen methodology.

The traditional method involves the ERP implementation team working with the vendor consultant to plan, educate the team, design/configure and set up the system and new business processes, conduct conference room pilots leading to a go-live, plan the cutover process and support the go-live.

The turnkey method is a vendor-led with the vendor consultant taking a bigger role in the plan construction, the project set up and configuration, prototype review/education, conference room pilots, cutover activities and training and go-live support.

3. Avoid pitfalls

Be aware of what a failed ERP implementation looks like, and how to avoid them. Failure often comes from a lack of organizational change management. Business transformation through new or updated enterprise technology will never take place without effectively managing change across three key organizational areas: people, process, and technology.

Change management planning from the very beginning is essential. When the future state vision is fuzzy and poorly developed, the ERP is likely to fail and a return on investment (ROI) will never materialize. Far too often we see new systems implemented that essentially mimic the old system and "the way we've always done it."

The future state vision, which the team identifies through detailed process mapping, must be shared among all departments and locations to encourage buy-in and team acceptance. Finally, ERP failure comes from data conversion problems. When companies don't know how to get the data out of the system or use it effectively for improved operations, forecasting and decision making, even the best ERP project is doomed to fail.

4. Consider the steps

From reviewing business processes before implementing a new ERP solution, to creating a communication plan that is effective and timely, knowing the proven steps will ensure a successful implementation.

5. Take a phased approach

A phased approach to ERP implementation strategies is often the most effective approach. Enterprises need implementation strategies that result in full utilization of the new system's functionality and benefits. Using a phased approach speeds the rate of adoption and gets a manufacturer up and running faster and with fewer disruptions to operations.

Ultra Consultants, a CFE Media content partner, is a leading independent research and enterprise solutions consulting firm serving the manufacturing and distribution industries throughout North America. Ultra delivers enterprise technology expertise and process management to drive business performance improvement for their clients. This article originally appeared on Ultra Consultants' blog.

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