Implementing a new ERP system inherently raises the need to address how the business should run now and in the future. Creating new business processes, determining the necessary reporting, and identifying possible software customization require input from many areas of the organization. By building a cross-functional team, companies not only improve the likelihood that all areas of the business are addressed, but also help create buy-in that can drive the overall project’s success.
All cross-functional teams should include certain key organizational functions such as: project management, IT, and executive management.
Now that the cross-functional team is in place, setting proper expectations both with this team and all employees is a very important next step. One area that needs to be addressed at the implementation onset is the time commitment required by key employees to participate on an implementation project team. Due to the disruptive nature of this project, many of the activities cannot be fully accomplished during normal working hours. There will be times when team members will need to perform their current job and then work on testing or file cleanup after-hours. A company also should set proper expectations to help manage the change that all employees will experience, using change management techniques prior to the change happening.
Being strict with the original project scope is critical. Many times, changes are justified; however, one needs to also be aware of the “toy box effect” when users discover the new, rich ERP functionality and suddenly want it all now. This needs to be addressed before the scope changes grow out of control. Therefore, determining the exact post-implementation functionality early and sticking to it helps ensure a timely and on-budget implementation. Many companies take a planned, phased approach to their ERP implementation, by prioritizing key functionality they need on day one immediately after the implementation, versus the “nice to have” functionalities that can wait till the second phase. A phased approach allows the implementation team to focus on the company’s critical functionalities and to bring those software modules live as quickly as possible. In addition to realizing a return on investment as soon as possible, the “win” experienced by the team in successfully completing the first phase of the project is extremely motivating, creating momentum for initiating the second phase.
Although it may appear to be the “path of least resistance” not to change business processes when implementing a new ERP system, in the long run, the opposite is actually true. In most cases, companies that try to keep their current business processes eventually run into the same issues with the new system that they did with their old system.
Project team leads and end users need to be given the time to get proper training,