By – Ravichandran S.
Implementation Head, eMerge
ERP – How to achieve a successful implementation
One of the biggest Investment decisions a Corporate can make in terms of cost involved and reach, is the investment in an ERP. Properly made, it can add a huge synergy boost to the operations and cut cost of operations.
Keys factors influencing a successful ERP implementation:
a. Choice of ERP: Investment in an ERP is a long-term one and must not be based purely on cost. It will consume a lot of time and energy and if not implemented properly, it will haunt us for a long-long time. It is not easy to get out of an incorrect decision either.
Every ERP has its own strengths and weakness; the ERP of our choice should be one whose strength is in the area which could be our biggest weakness (weakness here refers to the most critical processes which an organisation cannot afford to compromise on).
Choice of implementation partner also matters a lot as we need a good mix of experience and youth in the implementation team, and we must be willing to pay the right price to get the right resources.
b. Management buy-in: ERP is a long-drawn process as it affects a large part of the organisation …hence management support over the full cycle of implementation, encouragement to the team and providing the correct direction by way of STECO is super critical for successful implementation. Management must create and maintain an environment of trust and adopt the right communication mode to encourage the team.
The role of the Project manager is very important in all this. The project manager need not be a know-it-all person but one who is able to listen, learn, arbitrate, and keep focus on schedules and deliver in time.
c. Play to the strength: Every ERP is an outcome of years of programming excellence, domain knowledge and process optimisation. When implementing an ERP, look to adapt to these processes rather than try to twist the ERP process to meet existing legacy systems. It is hard to train people to discard their age-old practices and adopt new ones but it is a disaster to make the ERP system adapt to the legacy practices. We will end up in a knot of very high customisation costs and sub-optimal results.
d. Train and Test: Study the process to be implemented. Understand the process involved. Train all the concerned persons. They need to understand their role in the ERP process and the cost of failure of not following standard practice. During initial implementation, spend more time on testing various scenarios to ensure that no critical process is missed. At the same time do not focus on outliers. Just know them and have a contingency plan for handling them. Do not look to twist the ERP to handle these situations (if these are not part of the standard solution).
e. After “Go-Live”: Spend the initial days post Go Live as you would nurture a new-born. Pay full attention to ensure every player is performing his/her role properly (the ERP does not fail but people do and hence it is important to maintain constant vigil till it becomes routine for all the players).
An ERP implementation that goes through the above will necessarily result in success and achieve the desired end-result.