How to prepare for an ERP Software Implementation

Congratulations! You’ve committed to optimizing your business operations and have selected an ERP solution. Now the real work begins. A successful ERP software implementation project requires significant preparation before the implementation even starts, whether this is an upgrade from a prior system or a completely new installation.  Though the work is significant, this is your best opportunity to evaluate, simplify and automate your operational processes. This forensic look into today’s business processes will ensure that you maximize the value of your new system. Here are 7 critical preparatory steps to ensure your implementation goes smoothly and the project is a success. 

Evaluate Your Business Processes

Implementing a new ERP software system provides a great opportunity for you to analyze your current financial and operational processes. You may have some processes that aren’t very efficient or require manual intervention, or there may be additional processes that need to be included that aren’t there today. Include both the operational processes and financial processes like reconciliation. 

Now simplify as many processes as possible. Since your ERP provides you with consolidated data, you can eliminate work-arounds and other processes that are no longer relevant. As a core benefit of an ERP system is the automation of processes, it is critical to understand your required processes, simplify where possible and then implement.

Identify your Reporting Requirements

Identify your reporting requirements across all stakeholders. Who needs to have what information and at what time intervals? Since one major advantage of an ERP system is the consolidation of all financial and operational data into one source of truth, accessing real-time data typically becomes much easier, reporting requires little to no manual intervention and forecasting is better supported.

Implement Security Measures

Data is the brain trust of your business, so comprehensive security protocols should be put in place. Define role-based access rights and make sure sensitive data is appropriately protected. Implement firewalls and testing processes in order to ensure external threats cannot impact your applications and data.

Evaluate Your Supporting Infrastructure

Is your network infrastructure robust enough to provide high performance for all required user access? Do you have residual bandwidth to accommodate backup processes?  Different solutions will be required for on-premises vs. hybrid cloud solutions, so ensure your implementation partner can advise in this area.

Design a business continuity/disaster recovery plan.  

Establish policies, tools, and procedures to enable the continuation of business and recovery of your vital technology infrastructure, ERP and other critical systems following a natural or human-induced disaster.  And run recovery drills to test and train. During the recovery of your systems from a real incident is not the time to learn your tools and test procedures.

Define User Roles

All users of your new ERP system should be identified by name and by job function.  ]Define the roles based on your newly-defined business processes, reporting requirements and the specific jobs that your team will perform. Map and document individuals and roles and their access rights to ensure everyone has the information and system access they need to do their jobs. 

Clean up data

The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” holds true here.  This is the time to clean up your data. This includes not only the data from your existing system but “off-system” data that may be regularly uploaded from spreadsheets. Consider removing obsolete products, old contact information, out-of-business suppliers and duplicate records. Cleaner data will mean a better user experience and go-live process.

A successful ERP implementation is one that solves problems for everyone in the organization. The temptation is to move immediately to implementation and fix issues later.  However, careful planning and a critical eye to the status quo before you start will give you the best opportunity for a successful go-live that brings the entire organization business value.