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8 ways to get the most out of your ERP system

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | April 4, 2016
Experts in ERP software share tips on choosing, deploying and managing an ERP system.

“When embarking on an ERP implementation, it’s essential for your software and service provider to know your business,” says Paul Magel, president, business applications and technology outsourcing division, CGS. “Every industry has its own requirements, from terminology to specific functionality. A one-size-fits-all ERP will leave you with many gaps and needed customizations,” he says. “Whether you are in a specialized vertical such as footwear or are a well-known apparel manufacturer, ensure your vendor is an industry expert.”

4. Make sure senior management is on board. “One key predictor of how your ERP implementation will go is upper management buy-in,” says Kirk Heminger, marketing manager, Penta Technologies. “Senior management [doesn’t have] to be integrally involved in every step of the implementation process. However, management involvement and backing in prioritizing the project, setting direction, allocating resources and facilitating communication can be the single most important success factor in any implementation process.”

“It’s imperative the team tasked with choosing a new ERP system collaborate with senior leadership team or a member of the C-suite, where one individual from [the] executive team can serve as the sponsor and internal champion of the project to streamline approvals and break down internal silos,” says Rick Hymer, vice president, North America service line leader, packaged based solutions, Capgemini.

5. Develop a roadmap. “A roadmap not only ensures a smooth process, but it shows financial stakeholders when the implementation will start, the cost and when they can expect to start seeing benefits,” says Ramesh Iyanswamy, global head of SAP HANA, Tata Consultancy Services. “Roadmaps help manage large, complex technology and business process transformations in a series of well-defined phases, and help take control of cost planning. [Use the] roadmap [to] phase deployment over a period of shorter go lives, spreading out the cost over years.”

“It is critical to establish a well-defined footprint for your ERP implementation,” says Bos. “Define the functional areas of your organization that will be both affected and unaffected by the ERP system. For the affected areas of the organization, detail the ERP functionality that will be deployed and the business case for expected improvements,” he suggests. “Once this is complete, it is critical to exercise strong control over the scope of the project. Changing the scope of an ERP system should be a difficult process.”

“Putting together a detailed roadmap that outlines what steps the business needs to take before transitioning to the new system will help pinpoint potential ramifications and identify ways in which to mitigate those speedbumps from the get go,” says Hymer.

6. Establish a cross-functional team to oversee implementation. To help smooth the implementation process, companies should set up an interdepartmental implementation team. “This team should be made up of individuals [from different departments,] such as accounting, operations, information technology, payroll, human resources, purchasing, service and inventory,” says Heminger. “The team needs decision-making authority and a clear escalation path when facing decisions beyond their authority.”


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