An ERP implementation project can be a long hard slog. Often, the very act of pushing the button on go-live and declaring the implementation “complete” can feel like a huge success. But does implementation really end at the push of that button? And if you get it away first time with few technical errors, is that a success?
When it comes to measuring the success of this kind of project, it is important to look at the bigger picture. This can be difficult, as it is likely that towards the end of the implementation you will have been living in the detail. It is vital though, not to get too complacent because you have managed to deploy the software. This is not the end of the project. This is just the beginning.
So, when it comes to ERP implementation, how do you know what success looks like? When and how do you reach the point where you can look at the project at say “yes, that was worth doing”?
Start at the beginning
Really, there is no definitive answer to the question “what does a successful ERP project look like?” The question to answer is “what does a successful ERP project look like for my business?” And the only way you are going to be able to answer that question at the end is to decide what success looks like at the start.
We always liken the process of ERP implementation to travelling. When you are planning a trip, you start with the destination. The success (and measuring of said success) of an ERP implementation without a doubt starts at the very beginning of the project. Any good project starts with the question “what do we want to achieve?” If you have these objectives recorded and time stamped at the start of the project, it becomes infinitely easier to review these and assess whether they have been completed at the end.
It is best to avoid vagueness – “to a implement a new ERP system” is not really a goal. With that in mind, here are some end goals to consider when getting ready for your implementation project. These will not suit every business, and it is important to think about what success looks like in the context of your organisation.
A mark of not only a good ERP software implementation, but also business process optmisation, are efficiency gainst. As we have mentioned in a previous post, ERP is no silver bullet for inefficiency, but coupled with a careful review of business processes, streamlining and automating where appropriate, you can see some boosts in efficiency. It is possible with the right implementation that you will be able to see a reduction in lead times, time on spent on manual data entry, and maybe the time it takes for a product to go down the line. A really successful implementation has a knock on effect in the supply chain, not just on the sales floor or in the warehouse.
Cost saving and total cost of ownership
There are a number of ways in which an ERP implementation can help you realise cost savings. If you have an incumbent ERP system, it is very possible that at some point you signed up to license something you are not actually using. Reviewing the implementation and the processes around it can expose those areas of overspending and help you ensure that you keep everything tight in the new implementation. A good goal in that context might be to spend x% less on ERP licensing. This kind of goal could actually guide to you a different way of licensing or deploying your software, such as exploring the option of moving to the cloud. Saving on the licensing plus the efficiencies brought about by a new implementation could help you see a lift on the bottom line.
End user adoption
Can any software implementation really be considered successful if it is not adopted and embraced by end users? Without this key part of the puzzle, you are never going to see any uplifts in efficiency or productivity, or indeed any improvement to the bottom line. Although we said earlier in the post that implementation goals will be (and should be) different for each business, we think that this one should be universal. Every business that is looking to successfully deploy ERP software should consider end user adoption as an objective. Whether it’s usage stats, reduction in support calls related to ERP software, or something else, how you measure this is up to you. Either way, getting everyone on the same page and utilising the software to its full potential is a key goal that you should have in mind throughout.
Review, refine, repeat
There is absolutely no point setting goals if you do not appraise against them. The only way you are going to know if the project was a successful one is if you sit down and assess each goal in detail, and to what extent it has been met. Your findings can then help you address specific areas for concern, and most usefully – set a blueprint for future projects.
We have completed hundreds of ERP implementation projects, for a range of businesses all trying to achieve different things. We can work with you to understand what you want to achieve, when, and how you are going to get there. If you would like to talk to us about an upcoming project, get in touch.