ERP implementation Best Practice approach: Mitigating resistance, Training, Testing, GO LIVE. Part 3

What makes a new ERP solution challenging for any organization?

Change resistance can derail your ERP deployment.

Mitigating resistance should be managed by your internal implementation “A Team”.

A Team members should be mentors and should be positive in words and actions as you go through the implementation process.

How do you avoid the trap of modeling your new ERP to simulate “the way we have always done things”?

Confirm that everyone is on board with the design of your new system and the related changes in how people will work.

Executives and top level employees should be advocates for change and win over change-resistors who add risks to an implementation.

Is there a “best practice” approach to training?

Never has an unsuccessful implementation been attributed to TOO MUCH training.

On demand eLearning activities provide end users an opportunity to participate any place any time in a sample-data environment.

Hands-on “train the trainer” for core groups of resources who become internal power uses of the system provide a means to transfer that knowledge to their coworkers.

Cross training would provide an understanding of other processes directly affected by input or interaction within the ERP.

It is essential that end user training take place in the company’s prototype of the new system so that each process is a simulation of work that will be processed in the new ERP.

What is the best testing approach?

Testing should be integrated into the training exercises.

Users should enter data or generate reports that represent an entire annual cycle.

Month end, quarter end and year end processing should be simulated.

Critical reports should be generated and validated during this time.

Testing should follow full cycle processing.

Proper testing will assure that any gaps are identified well before the go live process.

Go live day, now what?

Properly prepare to support end users during the initial days of go live.  Work closely with your ERP partner so that they have adequate staff assigned during your first weeks working within the system.  Navigate the bumps and potholes encountered during the first few weeks and begin to cash in on the efficiencies provided by your new solution.

Is there a “best practice” approach for an ERP implementation? Part 2.

The best approach to planning for a new ERP solution is to NOT consider the undertaking as an IT system implementation. Success will be measured by the improvements in performance and efficiencies achieved as a direct result of the solution that is implemented.

How do you define objectives?

Evaluation of the business processes of the entire organization is critical to identify areas to be improved or enhanced.   Implementation objectives must be adequately defined and prioritized and a “roadmap” developed.

People from each functional area of the company should be involved from the very beginning of the undertaking. These individuals should analyze and document processes that can be improved. Examples might include the integration of outlying systems, streamlining customer billing, reducing the number of “offline” spreadsheets and improving reporting.

In order to present a case for improvement, you must associate the capabilities within ERP technology to the objectives of the implementation. The business case should address the benefits to be achieved and how the system and business process changes will impact all stakeholders within the organization.

The creation of a comprehensive plan and project charter that presents each critical task with the related responsibilities and timelines are key factors for the success of the project.

What is an “A” team?

Diverse internal representation should be considered when assembling the team who will be responsible for the success of your project. Your internal resources are key to the project as they are best suited to provide valuable input during the planning, design and decision making stages of the implementation.

A-team members should come from each functional area of the company and should have extensive knowledge related to operations, customers, vendors and policies. These team members should be respected by their peers. They should exhibit drive and initiative to push the project forward and promote buy-in from all stakeholders.

Is project management important?

Project management is key to the success of any ERP implementation. Not only should your vendor assign a skilled PM to keep all the moving parts in sync, but you should select an internal project manager from within your A-Team. The project managers keep the teams working together. Effective project management will reduce communications gaps and prevent slow decision making. And by working together the internal and external project managers can oversee the project timeline to assure that critical milestones are hit.

What next? Stay Tuned for Part 3

Mitigating Resistance – Training – Testing

Is there a “best practice” approach for an ERP implementation? Part 1.

Why implement a new ERP?

The most common “simple” answer is to combine and unify data, people and devices.

What is the first step?

The selection process is the first stage of most undertakings. During this stage a selection committee will review the key ERP players in your industry, evaluate the capabilities, review demonstrations, move through criteria review and requirements gathering, obtain testimonies and references and narrow the field.

The selection process is an important stage, but this is only the beginning.  The process of completing a design and implementation plan will set the stage for how successful an implementation will be.

What is the unified goal?

For most companies, bringing together their people, processes and data in a robust application with single point of entry and access from anywhere is the number one success criteria. However, ERP solutions touch every department and division within a business and many times goals may differ across an organization’s diverse branches.  Defining the “unified” goal may be one of the biggest challenges at the initial stage of design.

How are ERP implementation different today?

In the past companies may have focused on industry specific accounting solutions.  Today ERP solutions provide much more than a method to produce a profit and loss statement.   ERP systems provide solutions for every division in an organization.  The system implementation will impact dissimilar groups which may include sales, business development, HR, project management, product management and warehouse management.  The undertaking will involve internal customers and stakeholders from every area of the organization.  And, the measurement of the success of the project relate directly to the process improvements to be realized from the new ERP.

How to best support the undertaking?

Top down support is key to having a successful ERP deployment.  Leadership should gain understanding of each stakeholder group’s success criteria.    Using this knowledge the executives, working with the support of middle management, should drive the prioritization of the targeted improvements to be addressed and delivered by the implementation of the ERP.

What next?

Identifying key metrics; Assembling the  “A” team;  Defining Objectives;  Mitigating change resistance

Part two will address how to build implementation objectives, assemble your teams and prepare for change.