- On March 11, 2015
- ERP, software, warehouse software
Purchasing new software is a difficult task which requires from us to write down thoroughly our homework and to give it to an expert for review. Many company owners decide to equip the firm with ERP system either because they won funds from EU program or any IT company has convinced them that the software would solve like magic all organizational and process problems. The practice shows that working processes should be build first and then these processes to be supported by adequate ERP system. Let’s assume you have clear working processes and you want to buy software – where to start from and what to expect?
1. ERP system selection
The selection of ERP should not be done by the business owner. This task should be delegated to at least two competent employees who to collect offers, to organize demo-meetings and to select the potential options. It is obligatory these employees to have enough global knowledge about the company business. Thus they would be able to check the details during the research stage and to save redundant labor and expenses. Then these employees should ask for external opinion from an expert who has implemented different ERP systems. This is not a consultant from the software implementing company – this is an expert who protects your interests. The expert may show you the potential issues during the implementation, the software disadvantages and threats. Just after that the owner may take a decision which ERP to buy, what to be written in the contract for implementation and support.
2. Project start
At project start you must have a project manager. If you do not have resources you may ask the external expert who had consulted you for the ERP selection. His obligation could be to support you in writing the blueprint, to write an action plan, to check if terms are met, to test on your behalf or to require reports from your staff and the implementer. My practice shows that inviting an external expert helps for the faster and more effective implementation. All that is written in the blue print is included in the project price. If you want to stay close to the budget and avoid many developments afterwards, ask every head of department to write down as detailed as possible what are his expectation from the program. And please have in mind that every change means development, e.g. more money, time and nerves.
3. The implementation
This is the most difficult part. Here you may expect the unexpected – starting with who has understood what, who has actually meant what, who has changed his requirements and so on up to full sabotage from your staff or blockage from the implementer. At this moment, the key role belongs to the company owner and the project manager. They together and only together may stop the employees’ resistance and to push the project ahead.
4. Work with the new ERP
And here comes the moment when the system is ready for use. It is very important the data transfer to be done within couple of days, not in months. If you allow delays, prepare yourself for duplication of operations, data loses, wrong reports, exhausted employees and other similar extras. Just transfer the data and continue ahead. It is mandatory in the beginning you to have enough trainings by the implementer, written manuals and support for your staff. Of course you must have trained key users who to transfer the knowledge to the new coming employees in future. The official transfer between the old and the new software is better to be done in the beginning of the new fiscal year.
In order to provide an adequate ERP support it is necessary you to negotiate services which meet your working style. Do not accept explanations like “it is the way this business works”. If you prefer subscription, negotiate a package of hours for support per month and types of tasks. But if your business is multifunctional or seasonal, think about payment per real used consulting. To avoid situations of blockages, predefine what you expect from the implementer and sign a contract with deadlines and penalties.
Every change is difficult. The software implementation concerns the whole organization and might become a nightmare if you drop the reins at any stage. The correct and on-time communication, inviting an expert and the strong wish to progress, solve the majority of the problems still in their seed.