5 Steps to Rock Your System Implementation!


5 Steps to Rock Your System Implementation!

"I think we need ERP. You know, a new Enterprise Resource Planning system," the new CEO said. He was in a meeting with the VP of the Private Equity firm who had recently acquired this growing vitamin supplements company. "We could improve sales, streamline the invoicing, and get a handle on Cost of Goods Sold. You would get the reports and analytics that I need as well."

The VP was already shaking his head. "Yes, but you know that system implementations are always expensive and they are never successful!"

The CEO smiled. "I see you've had a few bad experiences."

"All of them were awful! When it came to Go-Live, nothing worked: accounting, supply-chain, customer service. And we had to add more money to fix it all!"

"It doesn't have to be that way. Not to over-simplify the matter, but in my experience, all you really need to do is follow these five steps."

1. Executive Commitment

The top management of the company must be dedicated to the idea of making the system work. The vision from the top should convey to all staff the importance of this initiative and that the new system will be a positive change, one that will help everybody do their job better and enjoy the results more.

2. Accomplishment Goals

Be clear about the goals for the new system. List the top features and functions that you actually need in order to achieve specific business objectives. Draw out the desired reports and focus on how to build a numbering system to get these results.

3. Realistic Expectations

An implementation can take months, so break the project down into phases. This will set you up for success. The completion of each phase will bring a sense of satisfaction. Celebrate each milestone accomplishment to spur enthusiasm for the next phase.

4. Dedicated Team Leaders

Give an opportunity to two or three smart staff to become the project leaders who can devote themselves to making the project a success. You need a commitment from every functional business area - accounting, purchasing, sales, HR, marketing, and warehouse manufacturing distribution - to be available to explain the company’s business processes so that the system will be configured appropriately. At times during the implementation, this can become a full-time job for these team leaders. Management needs to appreciate the importance of the tasks and staff to achieve success.

5. Experienced Project Manager

This is the most important step of all because it's your guarantee of success. No matter how good you think the systems integration firm is, an experienced Project Manager who knows the ropes will get the project done. The Project Manager is the independent strategist who fights for your best interests throughout the process. A good Project Manager will anticipate issues and will highlight upcoming problems - and resolve them. A great Project Manager, hired for this initiative, will ensure that the project is accomplished on time and within budget.

Results

When the CEO had finished talking, the VP of the Private Equity firm remained in thought. "I have to admit," he finally said, "in the cases where I saw an ERP implementation fail, we did not have all five of those measures in place. Sometimes management was on board in the beginning, but then the lack of progress and the demands of the ongoing business pulled their attention away. They didn't always understand that some of their staff needed to spend time - significant amounts of time - working with the system integrator in order to properly configure the system. And, of course, management sometimes bought far more system than they needed. We ended up paying for software they never used." He gave the CEO a hard look. "But is it really possible to complete all five of those steps?"

"Absolutely! Companies do it all the time," said the CEO. "And when they reach Go-Live, they have a system that integrates the key business functions of the company. We'll have a daily dashboard of analytics that would have taken weeks to prepare without ERP. We'll love it!"

The VP closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "All right. But let's hire the Project Manager first."

The CEO smiled. "Good decision."

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Rubenstein / Justman Management Consultants (RJMC) is a team of experts in Project Management for ERP Systems ensuring that the project accomplishes the goals of the company for financial and operations improvement projects. Give us a call today at 310-445-5300 - We Get Projects Done!

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