Few would dispute the ability of ERP systems like Acumatica’s Cloud ERP software to consistently increase the ability of businesses to serve customers, compete effectively in their industry and maintain long-term growth. However, many business owners refrain from investing in an ERP solution because of the amount of time, money and planning they associate with ERP selection and implementation.
At Aqurus, we know these concerns are legitimate. There is a fair amount of risk involved when investing in a software that will ultimately affect every area of your business and demand a lot of valuable time and resources. We want to make the process more accessible and help business owners get the maximum return on their ERP investment. That’s why we’ve compiled these 5-steps to guide you through the ERP selection and implementation process. We’ve also included expert advice to help you mitigate risks and reap the rewards of successful implementation.
Step 1: Establish Your ERP Goals & Create a Plan
First things first, as you look at your current business inefficiencies and profit leaks, ask yourself:
- Why do I need a new ERP system?
- What are the expected costs and potential benefits?
- What is my overall motivation?
Some examples of motivation for your business to choose and implement a new ERP system are:
- Your current system does not support your business’ needs either now or in the near future.
- Your current system isn’t user-friendly. Users complain that it takes longer to do their jobs with the system than it would without.
- You are unable to respond to customer requests because of system limitations.
- Competitors outperform your company because they have better, faster or more flexible systems.
- Your aging system is unreliable, unsecure, or costs too much to maintain.
After establishing what your existing problems are within your business and what you need to make positive changes – assemble your team. ERP affects members of your team from every department – engineering, materials, production, finance, customer service, etc. Anyone in your company who will be using the software should be involved right from the start and should lead the effort in selecting the system and planning/carrying out the implementation. By doing this you will build ownership and widespread acceptance throughout the different departments in your business which will result in success.
The final component of this initial step is outlining your ERP selection strategy:
- What are your overall goals and objectives/potential benefits?
- Examples: streamlining workflow, better visibility into operations, compliance, collaboration with customers and suppliers, mobile access, better supply chain management, increased business intelligence, etc.
- Look at your current systems and establish baseline measurements.
- Examples for supply chain management: inventory levels by type, inventory accuracy, on-time project completion, production lead time, customer service level, etc.
- Formulate a path to move from the current state of your business to the future. A more efficient and effective state based on the objectives you outlined.
Step 2: Equip Your Team for Your ERP Future
This step seems to be the most commonly skipped or missed step by business-owners. However, it is imperative that you make sure that everyone who will use the software knows what ERP does and how it facilitates communication and collaboration through the organization. Some ways to equip your team for your ERP future include:
- Schedule training on general principles and neutral definitions.
- Give your team access to informative videos.
Once your whole team is on the same page, collaborate together using the “current state” and “future state” roadmaps from step 1 to identify the specific functions needed in your new system. This is essentially a shopping list for you to keep in mind as you look at different products and providers. You can categorize the items on your list based on what you need, what you want and what you can do without.
Step 3: Choose the Right ERP System Provider & Implementation Partner
There are several types of ERP Software systems to choose from these are categorized into three tiers:
- Tier 1: Big systems (SAP & Oracle)
- Tier 2: Mid-range systems designed for medium-sized companies
- Tier 3: Smaller systems that are less expensive but more limited in functionality and ability to support a large number of users
Based on the size of your business and the scope of your operations, you can determine which tier ERP will best meet your needs. When you start looking into the different providers it is important to make sure they offer solutions specific to your industry. It’s also important to vet the systems based on how they balance these 3 qualities:
- Match the specific functionality that you need today with the ability to adapt the system to change when your needs change.
Ease of Use
- Evaluate the design of the user interface based on how familiar and intuitive it is. It must be simple to learn and easy to use.
- Finally, the system developer and/or implementation partner must be reliable, trustworthy and compatible with your needs and company culture.
When selecting the right system and implementation partner, don’t be tempted to sacrifice needed functionality or ease of use to save money. Also, refrain from skimping on how well you and your team are able to utilize the system for your success.
We at Aqurus are very experienced in helping business-owners navigate this step as an Acumatica ERP Software implementation partner. We meet with businesses, listen to what they need from an ERP solution and create a proposal which includes all implementation costs. This ensures that you can develop an accurate estimate of the true total cost of ownership.
We also do site visits and demonstrations with our clients to better understand their business and identify any significant benefits that they might not be aware of yet. Our demonstrations include how to use the features that are most important to the specific needs of the business. We encourage you to include any and all departments in the demonstration. This helps user communities get an introduction to the process flow, usability and feel of our Acumatica Cloud ERP Software.
Step 4: Implement You ERP Software
This step can be pretty overwhelming for most business owners. We don’t think it has to be this way but it can be a lot of work. Here are some tips to making this step as straightforward as possible.
- Take time to lay out a complete and thorough plan.
- Use standard tracking tools like Microsoft Project to manage the effort.
- Have regular team meetings to monitor progress and address any issues.
- Keep the project and its progress highly visible to the entire enterprise.
- Get future users involved early to establish a sense of ownership in the new system.
- Don’t skimp on training – it’s the best investment you can make in future system success and benefit.
- Pay attention to change management to build on the feeling of ownership company-wide and eliminate resistance to the new system.
- Use third party resources to save time, improve results and help your project succeed. Hiring experts like the Aqurus team, can help you avoid common mistakes, take advantage of ‘tips and techniques’ that others have discovered over the years and get your system into productive use faster.
Step 5: Post-Implementation Considerations
By Step 5 you’ve chosen the best ERP system for your situation and implemented it into your company. However, to reap the long-term benefits, it is best to stay educated and informed on your system. Some ways to make the most of your ERP solution are:
- Make sure your system has the latest applications, new capabilities and new releases that the developer releases on a regular basis.
Consider Advanced Functionality
- Expand your system to do more and generate even more efficiency and benefits by adding additional advanced applications that were not part of the initial implementation.
Keep Employees Educated
- Make sure new employees are properly trained in your ERP system.
- Continue training with your team to enhance their skills and understanding. By doing this you will support them in using the system’s full functionality and utilizing all the potential benefits, so you get the full return on your ERP investment.
Few things impact a company’s ability to meet customers’ needs, maintain a steady growth and compete efficiently like effective ERP system implementation. Fortunately, implementing a new ERP doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience. With the right support, and partnerships, you can take an ERP implementation from a nightmare to a seamless experience.
Need more information on the software? Check out the overview of Acumatica Cloud ERP Software.
Have any questions about Acumatica or want to request a demonstration? Contact our team.
Remember, the company you choose to implement your software dictates the success or failure of your software investment, at Aqurus we’re passionate about providing superior ERP solutions and support.