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Considering a New ERP – What’s the Big Deal?

When companies decide to implement a new ERP solution, they often jump right into the ERP Evaluation process without first taking the time to consider the following important questions.

  •   Is Senior Management fully supportive of going to the market for a new ERP?
  •   Has an appropriate budget been established and agreed?
  •   Is there a clear understanding of why a new ERP is required for the business?
  •   Will a new ERP solution be able to support and align with your future business goals?
  •   Is the Evaluation Team committed and enthusiastic? Do they have a systematic evaluation process to follow?
  •   Has a realistic time frame been set aside for the ERP Evaluation?
  •   Has enough consideration been given to the potential impact of business process and organisational change?

A new ERP for any organisation is a “big deal” and the impact on your people and processes should not be underestimated.

An ERP Evaluation requires a pragmatic and auditable methodology with a detailed project plan of activities. Roles and responsibilities will need to be defined and the schedule must be realistic. It is also essential for you to provide your staff with visibility of their involvement and what you will expect of them during the ERP Evaluation process.

Optimistically, the ERP Evaluation will normally take between 3 – 4 months from start to finish, presuming that all of your key stakeholders and the vendors are available at the times you need them to be.

CMC’s Top 5 Tips

1.   Executive Engagement

It is imperative that your Senior Executives and/or Board are fully supportive of the decision to proceed with assessing a new ERP for the business. An evaluation is a critically important exercise that will require focused effort from senior management and business process owners.

Vendors will also invest significant amounts of time and money responding to your Request for Proposal (RFP) and Demonstration requirements, so it is respectful to the Vendors that the process has the commitment to lead to a buying decision.

It is CMC’s recommendation that if the business is not ready to embark on the evaluation process, whether it be existing business priorities, staff availability or budget oriented; it may be best to postpone the assessment until the business is move forward.

2.   Know the Expected Benefits of a New ERP Before You Start

It is important to clearly understand why your organisation wants to implement a new ERP Solution. We see many organisations who are dissatisfied with their existing vendor and solution however, this is often not enough reason to throw away what you have and to start all over again.

It is critical that you understand the hard benefits of moving away from your existing technology. It is also necessary to know what the actual costs to the business will be and when you will expect to see a return on your investment.

It is good practice to map out the costs not only for the acquisition of new software and new infrastructure or cloud subscriptions but also the subsequent implementation. This will include activities such as data sourcing, cleansing, conversion and migration, new business processes, organisational change on the business and training etc.

3.   Experienced Project Management

Ensure you have an experienced and dedicated Project Manager to facilitate the ERP Evaluation process. This role is critical for bringing your staff on the journey and making sure that the right people are doing the right thing at the right time.  This will be a key success factor.

The Project Manager will prepare a detailed plan of scheduled activities including the key milestones, tasks, dates, duration and costs of any external parties that will be involved. They will also facilitate the documentation of your business requirements and interactions between your in-house Evaluation Team and the Vendors.

4.   Select the Right People for your Evaluation Team

The staff that you select to be on your Evaluation Team must be senior people, who are enthusiastic and supportive of your ERP Evaluation and clearly understand the reasons why your organisation is going to the market for a new solution to support the business.  These people become the change agents for the business transformation or transition process.

Lack of adequate resources during the ERP Evaluation Stage will most likely flow through to the ERP Implementation Stage, so it is essential that you have senior management commitment to resourcing the project with internal and / or contracted staff from the outset.

5.   Focus on Change Management

As soon as you’ve made the decision to evaluate a new ERP solution, it is important to communicate this to your employees and staff. You may not know the specific solution you will end up with, but it’s never too soon to start communicating the goals of the upcoming project.

Evaluating and implementing a new ERP solution for any organisation will involve a significant amount of change. We therefore recommend that a Change Management Strategy and Communication Plan are prepared early in the process to guide your intentions and to inform your staff.

Our clients have found that open and honest communication increases staff “buy in” throughout the project. If you involve your staff before you select the new ERP, your employees will be able to provide useful input, which further increases “buy in”.

Employee “buy-in” is also critical after the implementation. Companies that experience “software issues” after implementation are usually often just experiencing the effects of low employee “buy in”.

By starting the change management activities early, you will maximise adoption of the new ERP solution and new business processes after “go live”, ensuring the new ERP delivers the expected business benefits.

We engaged the services of CMC to facilitate an independent ERP Evaluation Process for our business. CMC understood our business needs and ensured all of our requirements were clearly documented. CMC’s process was flawless. Their approach was very collaborative and their detailed methodology helped us tremendously

David Allison - Managing DirectorSTIX Catering