As an IT manager you want your organisation to invest in an ERP solution that is:
- User friendly
- Capable of providing more transparent and agile software
- A future-proof solution to your business going forward
- An asset to your business in achieving its overall desired goals and outcomes
For the above to happen, you’ll need the whole organisation to unite behind the benefits of ERP software.
How do you ensure this? Well, you’ll need to make it undeniable that ERP is the way forward for your department and other vital departments within your organisation.
Here are seven tips for how to quickly gain that support and get everyone on board when implementing the software, as well as some indispensable advice on how to prepare your business for a new ERP solution.
Understand the business goals and objectives
It’s important to establish a baseline for where you are now and a realistic picture of where you’d like to be in the future in order to determine clear objectives for the implementation project.
Another useful thing to keep in mind is whether or not these future objectives are in line with that of the organisation as a whole.
Can they be applied outside of your department in a way that will secure the support you need?
Inform, engage and educate
There can be no doubt that getting 100% support from your colleagues at the beginning of the project is critical for a successful ERP implementation.
While getting that initial sign-off from key decision makers at the top of the organisation is essential to getting the ball rolling, attention also has to be paid to everyone affected by the changes being rolled out.
In other words, you’ll need to give special consideration to those employees that will be using the software on a daily basis.
This means keeping them in the loop, explaining the need for changes and how this will improve their routine jobs and also educating them on how to get the most from the new system once fully installed.
We would recommend putting together a strong project team who can dedicate their time and support to this project. Ideally you’ll representatives from each department to be part of the team who can provide their broad insights and unique skills to the process.
Have a clear and focused project path
In many cases, an organisation’s aims and objectives are likely to be ambitious – and why not? – but budget constraints are bound to affect decision-making at some point and it’s always prudent to think carefully about your priorities and the viability of certain goals to avoid a half-realised project.
Our advice is to be realistic about the bigger picture but also about the smaller details. By developing a well-defined project path (right from the beginning), clearly outlining what is within your scope and what lies outside of it, you will place the ERP project in good stead going forward.
Of course, you’ll want to build some added ‘wriggle-room’ into the implementation process to give you some much needed flexibility but that doesn’t mean compromising your core vision for how you want ERP to transform your business; the two should work hand in hand.
Define processes and establish workflows and pain points
As an IT Manager and project leader, it is important that you analyse your current procedures and identify any pain points that could arise as a result of the implementation process, approaching these honestly and comprehensively during discussions with your Project Team.
Clear communications are the best guard against future risks.
It is best to have these pain points mapped out at the earliest opportunity to negate any problems arising further down the line, particularly if the ERP project has already gathered momentum.
You can do this by adopting a risk assessment as part of your plan – nothing creates frustration among peers quite like ‘’unplanned’’ problems occurring later down the line, and a good risk assessment is one form of contingency against this.
Above all, you want to build a climate of trust, as well as honest and open communication channels among your team to ensure everyone understands their role and is enthusiastic about the project and its benefits to the organisation.
Get your processes in order
As the leader of an ERP project, it can be tempting to get carried away with the excitement of installing your new, cutting-edge ERP technology, but keeping your head and thinking practically will go a long way to ensuring the roll-out of the final implementation is successful.
That could mean that not all of the high end features of the technology will be suitable for your end users.
One of the critical action points is to keep in mind that the new ERP system needs to be user-friendly, easy to access and intuitive for the staff who use the software on a routine basis.
Here is one recommended method for ensuring this:
- Map out your business processes
- Detail the user flow
- Identify processes that might intersect across various departments
- Pin down inefficiencies
It might be worth considering a phased approach when tackling your immediate pain points, as this method proves to be less disruptive. Fewer variables will be in the mix and most importantly, you will achieve quick wins by phasing in functionality.
Create end user communication
It goes without saying that some people are fearful of change, so in order to plan ahead and help settle expectations for the ERP rollout, good end user communication is key.
One idea would be to try integrating the following communications into your ERP project plan:
- Documents to highlight new features that will come with ERP that can be circulated across the business via intranet, noticeboards, monthly team meetings etc.
- User training sessions with the appointed team leader, knowledgeable members of the Project Team or even a Clear Business Outcome ERP consultant
- Interactive videos that are accessible online
- An appointed ERP champion (most likely sourced from the Project Team)
It is also essential that you provide adequate technical support once the ERP software solution goes live, allowing your team to resolve any teething problem smoothly and in good time so that larger problems don’t develop. This is a good way to see off any potential frustrations that come with a significant amount of change in a short space of time.
Focus on continuous improvement
There is no need to stop educating staff within the business after your ERP system goes live.
In terms of ERP, you should adopt a culture of continuous improvement to ensure your business is getting as much value from your ERP investment as possible.
For example, if there is a new employee that starts within the business, it’s worth putting an ERP training session in place as part of their induction plan – this will allow them to adapt quickly to their new environment and act as a useful introduction to the software.
It would be also advisable to keep the project team together after the ‘Go Live’ period to act as an ERP committee.
The ERP system should be continuously under review to keep performance levels high and to make sure it continues to support your changing business processes for years to come.
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