As a small business owner, your time is always in short supply. Managing tasks, customers, and daily activities leave you with no “bandwidth.” This is difficult – in fact, nearly impossible – without a well-deployed software system (an ERP) to run your business. ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems have great capabilities and offer your business a game-changing level of control. But companies often misunderstand the key to achieving ERP success: an effective implementation.
This article discusses a few, but not all, ideas for an effective ERP implementation in a small business. It also identifies important questions to ask along the way.
Identify What You Need, Consider the Customer, and Hire a Good Partner
Conversations about your business requirements are the first step. Separate the vital few from the many. It’s essential to understand what’s working, what’s not working, and any friction. Friction means your internal processes compromise customer fulfillment and satisfaction; it qualifies as one of the vital few. Since “the customer is always right,” consider the following in meeting customer satisfaction:
- Which processes are most frustrating and ill-defined?
- What inhibits employees from being productive and efficient?
- What’s the beginning-to-end customer experience, and where are areas for improvement?
- Are offline tasks – like spreadsheets on local drives – consuming a large portion of time or, worse, only known tribally?
Create a list of priorities. Then, engage a partner. The choice of the ERP software is a separate matter, but selecting a partner who can review your needs and offer solutions is critical. So, get a clear picture of what you need with an internal review. Then get the perspective of an objective partner unencumbered by your daily operations. Envision what success looks like in a new system. This will help drive an implementation and preserve focus.
Help Users Through Change Management
One of the surest paths to success is engaging users and making them part of the project. It’s especially effective if users see how their jobs will become easier – nobody likes ill-defined processes or tedious tasks. By reviewing current limitations and seeing improvements, involved users become advocates for a new system. They’ll come to work more motivated. Here are great questions to engage users:
- Is your new ERP system rigid or adaptable to your business needs?
- Is training employees and re-teaching non-intuitive complex processes a hindrance?
- Does your new ERP help what was previously difficult to integrate or automate?
- Does your partner, or ERP publisher, offer training materials to help implement and solve periodic user questions?
- Can your users become proficient on the new system quickly?
A Better Way – a Methodology and Project Management
If you've made it this far, it means a lot of what we shared above has resonated with you. Great news! Over the past few years, advances in technology and software have created opportunities for companies to modernize and step into an era of powerful integration, innovation, and seamless processes. But some things remain unchanged – like strong, solid project management to implement your ERP. Make sure your partner provides an adequate project plan with defined steps for each of the major project phases. These major phases should be broken into detailed plans and include (for more details, contact us):
- Project preparation
- Business blueprint
- Project realization
- Final preparation
- Go-live support
Ultimately, implementing a new ERP for your small business is a great way to improve, refine, and scale your business. With the right understanding of your business needs and desired state, your project will be on the road to success. With the right solution and partner, you can finally conquer your most significant challenges and growth impediments.
If you’re interested in learning more about effective ERP implementation, contact us. Our well-trained team has worked with many companies. We’ve been recognized for excellent customer support and implementations. Book a consultation with us today!