If you have read some of the numerous ERP implementation disaster stories online, or even worse experienced it for yourself first hand, you may be thinking that embarking on a new ERP project for your business is a minefield and that it should be put off until the last possible moment.
However, in practice, where this approach is taken it is often left too late and the business suffers badly as a result of inefficient operation, lack of data and poor visibility.
Where budgets permit, bringing in external expertise in the form of a selection consultant is generally advisable, however for the SME this is not always possible. In addition, available internal resource to commit to the project can be limited leading to a less than ideal selection process and ultimately impacting the system implementation and timeline.
If you don’t have weeks to spend assessing individual user, department and management requirements, here’s a few tips that will certainly help you to develop a short list of potential vendors and ultimately narrow down to your preferred ERP supplier.
- What tools do existing users use currently?
Inevitably there will be various systems in place within the business. These will range from structured, formalised software systems such as an accounts package at one end of the scale, to phones and diaries in the pockets of sales reps at the other. Collate a list of all of the “data stores” within the business – this might include stock systems, production scheduling, quality documentation, standalone CRM software, mobile devices, e-mail, amongst others. Now start to think about which of these should form part of a new integrated solution.
- Root out those spreadsheets!
Anyone who has ever been involved in an ERP project will know that Excel spreadsheets are the enemy. For every spreadsheet eliminated by a new, shiny report from the system, another two emerge from the ether. Now is the time to gather all the spreadsheets individual users use on a daily basis. Any that are maintained by manual data input ideally should be replaced by reports from the new system. You’ll be shocked at how much duplication there is with different users separately maintaining the same data. In many cases the cost savings in employee hours can go a long way to funding the entire project! Not to mention that spreadsheets are a breeding ground for calculation errors, which in itself can lead to costly bad decisions.
- Get 90% of ERP system requirements the easy way
What reports do current users use? Ask each user or department for their top 5 reports. These may be spreadsheets at the moment, or just information in peoples’ heads. If you can get on paper the structure of the key reports people use and need, that’s most of your system requirements right there. This simple tip could save you months of work.
- What KPI’s do management need?
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are often left until the system is up and running. Putting some thought into what’s needed in advance will help point the project in the right direction from the beginning. When driving, at a glance we can see the speed we are moving at, the amount of fuel remaining, engine temperature, revs per minute and outside air temperature. This is all presented in a dashboard easily visible without compromising on the task at hand. What five key stats do you need to drive your business?
- What is a realistic timeframe to go live?
The answer to this is generally defined by availability of your internal resources. It is more a question for you to answer than your chosen vendor. Projects can run anywhere from a couple of months to many years. Vendors will generally be available to commit resource and delays inevitably are the result of pressure on company employees to complete project tasks in parallel with performing their existing duties. Can you bring in extra resource even on a temporary basis? Is there a time of the month, quarter, year that is quieter when you can aim to go live? Bear in mind, this is your project, not your vendor’s. It is good to time the project commencement as well for a quiet period where possible, as this is when a lot of the business analysis and data gathering will take place.
Why not join us for one of our upcoming webinars on our EFACS E/8 ERP or Eagle Field Service solutions. See http://profitsflow.com/webinars to see for yourself how we work with manufacturing and field service companies across the island of Ireland to deliver fully integrated business solutions.
Or simply Contact Us right now – we’d be delighted to hear from you