In Part 3, we discussed how to prepare for and conduct software demonstrations. In Part 4, we will look at how to finalize the selection of the ERP system and suggestions for a successful implementation of the new solution.

Finalize Your System Selection

After you wrap up all the ERP demos, your job isn’t quite finished. The future of your company’s technology assets, level of success, and performance now lies in the hands of you and your software selection team. Take your time and avoid feeling pressured into making a fast decision.

The selection team should meet and allow each member to give their pro’s and con’s of each system and share which system they think is the best fit for the company.  Hopefully a general consensus will be gained on the system that is the best fit for the needs you have outlined.

Ultimately, you will want to finalize the cost and timeline, including the annual ongoing maintenance costs, hardware, training, implementation, and software in order to fully understand how much of your resources, including your budget and team, you will need to commit to the system.

Implement the New Solution

Implementing a new ERP system for your company can be both a challenging transition and a rewarding change. Here is a six-step framework that walks you through what you can expect from the first day of planning all the way through go live.

1) Get Ready for Change

Implementing new ERP software can be a significant change for any company large or small, especially if this is your first time using this type of system. Therefore, it’s important to stay transparent with your employees about the coming weeks and months, engaging them whenever you can. Keep in mind that ERP transitions are as much about changing process and procedure as they are about changing the technology you use.

2) Prepare Your Data

Avoid assuming that all of your data can easily be converted into the new system. Evaluate your current data to determine which pieces must be converted prior to the implementation. After you export your data from your existing system(s), typically via a spreadsheet, you must then clean it up by weeding out any unnecessary information such as former customers or those who are no longer in business. Maintaining the integrity of your data is one of the most important components of a successful ERP system implementation.

3) Configure the ERP

After completing the first two steps, you’re ready  to implement the new system. Make sure your ERP consultants have mapped out a specific plan of how to install, configure, and optimize the software for your specific company. Remember that plans are bound to change, even slightly, during the implementation process, so always keep your end goals and major needs in mind.

4) Train and Educate

After you configure your system, train your employees on how to use the software. Some companies train the trainer and others hold specific functionality training that affects targeted user groups. Walk through actual examples of purchase orders, invoices, etc. from start to finish to make sure the system is setup to operate the way it was intended.

5) Test the System

While the integrity and performance of ERP systems have come a long way since they were first introduced in the 90’s, don’t assume the process will go smoothly. For this reason, user acceptance and system testing are key phases of the implementation process.

6) Go Live

Once your system is configured and tested and your employees are trained in the software, it’s time to go live and receive the benefits of and achieve the goals of selecting the system in the first place.  If you have setup the system properly, imported your data and tested thoroughly, your go live should go smoothly.

Unfortunately, installing a new ERP system doesn’t mean you never touch it again. Software implementations require attention and time beyond the initial installation, including general maintenance, additional functionality and routine upgrades to the system. Continue to stay up-to-date on all things related to your system, and your company will benefit for years to come.

Chortek LLP’s Technology Business Software Consulting Group can provide you with a clear understanding of the strategies for system selection for your business enterprise.