6 key factors for a successful ERP software implementation

The success of an ERP implementation depends on a lot of variables. It is therefore impossible to have complete control over the project. However, you can significantly increase the chances of success by having control over a few factors of crucial importance:

1. Implementation is change

A new ERP system almost always brings a new way of working. From the boardroom to the workshop, from sales to administration, the whole organization has to deal with change. Therefore, change management is an important part in the project from beginning to end. Involve employees in the project from the selection of the new system until after the go-live. You do this by informing them properly, giving them a voice in system selection, process changes and system setup, and by providing them the best possible assistance in the changes in their daily job. Even after the go-live this team will continue to be involved in changes (in other words; optimizations).

2. Pay attention to both the organization and ICT

ERP implementations are often treated as ICT projects. While because of the impact on the entire organization the qualification ‘business project’ suits much better. An ERP implementation is an excellent moment to take a close look at the organization at all levels and assess where improvements are possible. In fact, if you do not pay attention to the organization, then you will never be able to take maximum advantage of the software. Improvements are mainly process-oriented, the software enables you to implement these as efficiently as possible.

3. Clearly define the results

An ERP project has a beginning and an end. Within that period and within the framework you have defined together, you go for the best possible results. It is important to clearly define these results in advance. Strive for goals to move your business forward, but also be realistic (time/quality/budget). By setting goals, you can focus on what is really important and then afterwards evaluate whether the project has met your expectations. This way you also keep the scope of your project manageable and a successful go-live is guaranteed.

4. Manage expectations based on the results

Not everyone has the same expectations of a new ERP system. Where one may consider it as an unnecessary and difficult process, the other thinks it is the golden grail instantly solving all problems. Both expectations are unrealistic and not what you want during the project. Clearly explain the expected benefits of the new system, but also what should not or cannot be expected. This is an ongoing process!

5. Clearly define the roles and responsibilities

An organization that starts with an ERP implementation does so with a team of members from various departments. Before you start, make sure to clearly agree what each person does and what he/she is responsible for. Then everyone is concise of what he/she should do, how much time they will spend on the project and which decisions and activities they need to take care of. Proactively monitoring all this is crucial.

6. Use a structured project approach

There are plenty of examples of ERP projects that get out of hand in terms of costs, not meeting important deadlines or even completely mess up and never have a go-live. An inadequate or unstructured project approach might be the main cause of this. Together with the software vendor, select a structured, phased project methodology that is proven to be successful in your type of organization. This way you can act in time when things do not go as planned and you are able to keep the project on track. Pragmatically structured is the key to success.

Are you in control of these 6 factors? Then you are on your way to turn this ERP implementation into a success!

Alex Bouwmeester is Project Manager Europe at Dysel and guides the customer from start to finish during the implementation.