How to Succeed When Implementing ERP
The implementation of ERP can be seen in two different ways. The first one would be implementing it for the first time, and this is the one that takes more time for research and preparation for the employees of the system. The second one is the updating of the system which usually takes less time and effort than the first one. Despite this, both phases take place at different times and require different levels of difficulty. Having to face the second stage is not a sign of failure, but a chance of improving the functionality of the system.
It seems that enterprises need to incorporate ERP more every day. The main reason is that they want to grow and become more competitive to match the global market requirements. However, we have all heard about organizations that have tried to implement ERP and failed. The question is why does it happen and how can it be that some enterprises get huge benefits while others loose time and money? Lets see some reasons that can make it fail and why.
Why Can it Fail?
The first reason for the correct implementation to be in danger consists in the absence of a strongly determined organizational structure. Not every company has a defined structure for employees, and sometimes managers have the wrong idea that ERP will solve this problem, while it certainly will not. While ERP does not create a structure, it improves the previously established one.
The second reason appears when the company doesn’t have clear objectives, and when it does not define which benefits they want to get through the implementation of ERP. This is usually referred to as “non defined objectives”. When the directors have not defined objectives and strategies, or even which benefits they need to obtain from the new system, they will find two difficulties during the process: as they do not know what they want to obtain, they will not be capable of defining the steps to take in order to get a beneficial functioning. On the other hand, as they have no objectives they will not be able to measure the results nor even know if the implementation has been successful. In this way the project will be in march, but they will not know which direction it has to take.
The third reason is the absence of preventive dispositions to fight the resistance to the new technologies by the employees. Changes always generate a certain level of rejection, and the key is to keep in mind these difficulties and to take preventive actions.
The last one is the need of a professional inside the organization who takes the responsibility of making the project successful, and they must guarantee that the process is being executed by taking into account the consultant’s instructions. These people are frequently named as the persons responsible for implementation, and their absence can make the project fail. To make mistakes at the time of choosing the supplier or the system itself can also end in failure for obvious reasons.
Implications of Implementing ERP
There are several actions to be taken in the process of implementing ERP. The first one to mention is to define a management team who is very interested in changing the software. If the enterprise already has this team then the process will be much easier. If not the directors will try to solve many internal problems through the use of the new software, and it will probably not work. The different modules of ERP contemplate areas that must be previously defined in the organization.
Another important action is to define clear objectives before thinking of the acquisition of the new software. In regards to the system, you can have objectives such as generating quality information in real time in order to make better decisions and improve the business operation. Sometimes organizations want to solve problems through new systems and for that matter its necessary to see which aspects of ERP are able to be resolved, and which cannot.
As long as we have established clear objectives, keeping in mind the instructions provided by professionals, it will be easy to see if they have been reached by the project. Moreover we will be able to see if we are missing steps that need to be fixed at the same time.
The wrong procedure to make in these kind of changes can generate a stop in the planned activities, especially when the culture is not taken into account. This is why some directors do not easily approve changes in their software, and if they decide to change it they are very careful about it.
It is not easy to convince people that a new system will help them through their daily tasks if they have been using another one for years. Despite this, you must convince them. New software always generate a certain level of rejection, but it is usually solved in a short period. It is highly recommended to arrange several meetings to show the employees the vision of the future and its advantages, so they can realize the personal benefits they will obtain from ERP. In this way they will collaborate with the implementation of the system.
The organizational change is necessary to implement ERP, and it is also very important because there will be changes in some processes. It might even be necessary to form internal teams. It is a false idea to think that the successful implementation only depends on the services that the supplier can offer you. Furthermore it is certain that if the organization does not commit with it from the beginning, failure will likely result. This is why the figure of the internal responsible is a matter of vital importance. Without this professional the project will not be successful. Functions such as researching internal information or the creation of a schedule are very important for a correct future functioning of the system.
It is important to mention that false expectations appear frequently. Nobody can pretend that a product, especially a designed one, can fit completely to the needs of an organization. Management systems will never be capable of performing exactly as everyone thinks they must do. However, ERP systems can reach the highest percentage of confidence between clients expectations and the software functions because of their flexibility.
Time to Make Decisions
When it is time to choose the right ERP, you will find that there are many options available in the market. This is when you have to evaluate if you need a system that only focuses on one area, or a software capable of bringing you centralized information at any moment or time. In case you take the first option, we can predict that the enterprise will not succeed as much as it could be, since the benefits of ERP are well known at this point.
The ideal thing is to choose a previously proven application which we know works good in similar organizations. But it is even more important to focus on a product that is able to evolve fast and quickly. Besides, you have to keep in mind the advantages regarding compatibility when you purchase all of your software from the same supplier. It is obviously easier to implement in this case.
It is fundamental to work with the best software suppliers, because in this way you can be sure that your investments are not going to be wasted. Another important aspect is that the supplier gets really involved with the projects, that they offer high levels of commitment. For some people it is also important that the software provider has a location close to the organization, because in that way they can come any time you need them, making managers feel safer.
On the other side suppliers must provide security to the enterprise. A good way to make clients feel safe is to show that you are a strong enterprise while acting as a partner, and not just a vendor. As we have stated above, ERP provides huge possibilities for enterprises. But for management software it is very important to implement it correctly because it brings important changes to the whole organization. When this happens the productivity level increases as good as the opportunity of making the best decisions in a short time.
Implementing ERP does not usually look for little benefits, but big ones. It is a reality that fear exists and it refers to new experiences and complicated processes. Employees can argue that they have no time to learn about new systems, or that ERP is very expensive or difficult to use in order to avoid dealing with a new tool. But these arguments are just that: arguments. They vanish in front of the previously mentioned benefits that come with implementation . In this way a better control of information and the reduction of time consumed in several activities are just two of the benefits you will find with ERP.