10 Tips to Optimize Your ERP Initiatives

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Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, is notoriously complex to implement. Horror stories abound about failed installations, unresponsive vendors, and wasted investments. As daunting as ERP can be, many organizations can’t operate without it — ERP brings together different aspects of the back office for greater efficiency and insight into business processes.  Today’s ERP offerings are still complex, but smaller companies especially have more choices in ERP solutions designed for their requirements. Working closely with your vendor to configure and customize the solution as necessary, choosing the right delivery model for your organization, and following this list of 10 tips can help you optimize your ERP initiative.

1. Consider Web-based ERP solutions.
Even the big guns of ERP — notably SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft — have moved into the cloud and now
offer full-featured hosted ERP solutions that are delivered via the Internet. If you don’t have the IT staff
to support a premise-based ERP solution, an SaaS offering is now a viable alternative. Hosted solutions
can also lower the total cost of ownership because you’re not purchasing any software or new hardware
to support it.

2. Understand your organization’s business goals and decide how ERP can support them.
ERP is intended to boost your company’s bottom line by optimizing your business processes, so it
needs to be linked to your organization’s business goals. It’s crucial, then, that you identify the ERP
functionality — from advanced financials to supply chain management (SCM) to sales force automation
(SFA) to workforce management — so it can help you attain those goals.

3. Focus on the ways ERP can optimize your business processes.
First you must understand how your organization operates, and then you can identify the ERP functionality that can support your various business processes. It’s important to be open to some change, however; an ERP implementation can alter some business processes, and your organization will need to adapt its processes to match.

4. Understand your back office workflows.
ERP is vast and impacts your core business workflows in financials, supply chain and inventory, human
resources, and more. You need to know how your employees perform their jobs every day as well as
which business applications should be integrated in the ERP solution to best support them.

5. Involve employees from IT and the departments impacted by ERP in the implementation.
The employees who will be using the ERP solution day to day, such as accounting and HR staffs,
should have some responsibilities in the ERP implementation. They know best what functions they
need ERP to deliver to help them make better decisions more quickly.

6. Don’t expect the ERP solution to go live overnight.
Most ERP deployments take several months or even a year to be fully implemented. ERP modules
should be installed in phases, one at a time, and they must be thoroughly tested. Employees need
training, which can further slow down the process. But your implementation is more likely to be
successful if you take the time to test and train.

7. Dedicate members of your IT staff to your ERP implementation.
Even if you’re working with a vendor to install an ERP solution, you should have some employees
focused only on the implementation. This project team should include employees from IT plus from
the functional areas that will use ERP, who will return to their usual jobs when the implementation is

8. Limit customization of the ERP solution.
Many core ERP functions are similar across solutions, and enough solutions exist to find one that will
generally align with your organization’s business processes. Some customization is usually necessary,
but the less you need to customize the solution, the easier it will be to maintain and upgrade, particularly if your current IT staff changes roles or leaves the company.

9. Budget for training.
Most modern software is so user-friendly that most people can boot up and go — that’s not ERP.
Leave room in your budget for extensive training for everyone who will use ERP. This includes how-to
classes and detailed instructions for each function in the system.

10. Prepare data for the migration earlier rather than later.
Business data is at the heart of every ERP solution, and it must be migrated from your legacy
databases to the new ERP software. To be effective in the system, data must be accurate, complete,
and consistent — that means cleaning it before migration. Start cleaning your data early in the implementation and create data entry standards that will be in place by the time the system is live.

(Article source:  inside-erp.com)