06/01/2011

By Jamie Stewart, Managing Director UK and Ireland, Exact

1. Too often, a company will not know exactly what it wants from its ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) from the outset. Without proper clarification of the implementation plan, it can be flawed from the start, leading to complications further down the line. All firms should draw up a detailed business requirement document to establish a clear vision of their goals, including measurement tools to gauge success. There is a great deal to take into account, with any number of processes to consider — from manufacturing, logistics, inventory, shipping and invoicing, to sales, marketing delivery, billing and human resources - so it pays to get it right from day one.

2. Having formulated the plan, the next ‘must’ is to ensure the appropriate resources are available to guarantee the strategy is implemented to its full potential. Companies that spread their staff too thinly, without giving them sufficient time to learn the ropes, will suffer in the longterm. A steering group to manage the project team’s resources can be very useful to this end. Bringing in external resources to cover the time of permanent staff can help free them up to be completely immersed in the ERP prior to the handover. Underestimating the amount of time and money needed to implement a lasting ERP can lead to a missed opportunity, if the system is not taken to its full potential. The costs of support, as well as disruption to staff, make any perceived upfront savings a false economy.

3. A new ERP system will benefit the whole company, so it is invaluable to have everyone involved from the beginning, so that all of the staff buy into the project. It helps to run an inclusive implementation strategy that ensures the whole project team is heavily involved with setting up the system, so they are fully versed in its procedures when the time comes to go live. Everybody learns together and it is a good idea to run workshops to train those who will teach the rest of the company. It is vital to draw up a blueprint of the training system, so the whole company can learn the fundamentals of the ERP system.

4. It is worth entering the process with an open mind and a blank sheet of paper. If you go in with a narrow vision of what needs to be done, you could miss other opportunities. It is easy to look internally and pinpoint what needs changing, but the foresighted company will look outside the box and identify other methods of improving its systems. Bringing in an external consultant to give a fresh perspective can also pay dividends.

5. Any implementation strategy organised on an ad hoc basis, whereby extra requirements are tacked on as needed, will more often than not end up in trouble. Moreover, it is human nature for employees to try adapt the system to meet their own needs, so the product can drag on and become unwieldy as individuals fail to look at the bigger picture. The project team needs to keep a handle on scope and insist that the end product is delivered strictly to the original specifications. “Scope creep” can easily force the project over budget and render it no longer fit for purpose. It is vital to focus on the deliverables and then add any necessary supplements flagged up in the implementation.

Exact are one of the leading providers of scalable solutions which cover all key business processes, allowing your people to share information and collaborate in real-time on a single platform. As well as helping organisations grow, Exact's solutions consolidate the processes of companies conducting business internationally.

Business on an international scale heightens the need for precise reporting and visibility; Exact offer a solution that is dedicated to giving a company's HQ total clarity on the entire business, from foreign subsidiaries to localised trading silos. With many businesses still performing a lot of tasks manually, or utilising IT systems that don't work together this provides complete process visibility and helps ensure employees work together to add value to the business.

www.exact.com


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