According to, 55% of ERP implementation projects experience cost overruns, and 75% experience schedule overruns.  For many, statistics like these make the prospect of selecting, implementing, and deploying a new Enterprise system seem improbable, or worse, impossible.

But the truth is, ERP implementations don’t need to be a nightmare, and success is certainly possible.  By sticking to a few basic guidelines, you’ll set your team up for a smooth transition with measurable results.

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Here are our top ten tips to ensure that your organization has a successful ERP implementation:

1. Make the right Pre-Implementation Choices

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Our first tip for a successful ERP implementation is to avoid setbacks, surprises, and avoidable mistakes by making the right pre-implementation choices.  Often, organizations rush through the ERP vendor and partner selection process, only to experience issues during the implementation phase of the project.  Instead, take the time to clearly outline needs, wants, goals, budget, and timeline and choose the system and partner that best align with these standards.

2.  Appoint an ERP Hero

“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal.” – Walt Disney

Every team needs a leader.  For ERP implementations, we like to refer to this person as an ERP hero or champion, since they are the usually the person who spearheads the project from beginning to go-live and beyond.  This person will be the primary contact for everyone involved in the project both internally and externally.  This person must be a bridge that coordinates the goals, vision, and progress between the executive suite and the working levels of the organization.  They must have the communication, organizational, and planning skills to keep the ERP project on track, secure executive buy-in, evaluate progress, and measure success throughout.  The true ERP hero drives the project forward and takes responsibility for achieving goals while still awarding recognition to those who deserve it at every level.

3. Build a Team that knows your Processes (and how they’ll change)

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” – W. Edwards Deming

A new ERP system is an organization-wide solution, likely with users in various departments.  Your implementation team needs to reflect diversity by being cross-functional and cross-departmental.  Once you’ve built your team of all-stars, you’ll need to outline your current processes highlighting bottle-necks and areas that can be improved.  Start by mapping your organizations anticipated day-to-day interactions with the ERP system.  What data and changes to business processes will support those actions?  This will help your team identify any workflows that need to be set up and implemented and will also guide the design of the backend and supporting the infrastructure of the system, including data integration and migration.  From there, you’ll be better equipped after your system go-live to take advantage of your new systems functionality business-wide.

4.  Plan Precisely and Realistically – Set KPIs and Track Progress

“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going… It’s as simple as that.” – Earl Nightingale

Planning is one of the key steps in a successful ERP implementation project.  In order to keep the implementation team on time and on budget, your team should work with your ERP partner (consultant and/or Value Added Reseller/implementation service provider) to establish a project plan based on clear, measurable goals and objectives.  KPIs should be translated into project milestones with a realistic timeline.  ERP implementation projects, like many projects of a similar scale, will never be wrinkle free.  With that in mind, various trial runs and testing phases should be incorporated into the project plan to anticipate any delays while also preempting future issues by fine-tuning configuration before the system goes live.

5.  Keep Executive/Senior Management Involved

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant

In order for an ERP implementation to be successful, the transition must have the complete support and commitment of upper management.  The new system will be the foundation for the organization’s future growth and must be a top priority for executives who will set the example for the rest of the organization, who will be much more likely to comply with new policies and procedures.

6.  Keep End-Users Engaged

“Employee engagement is an investment we make for the privilege of staying in business.” – Ian Hutchinson

People are naturally resistant to change.  For this reason, it’s especially important to keep the people most affected by process changes, your end users, engaged throughout the ERP implementation project.  It’s important that you develop an employee engagement strategy to ensure that end-users are informed about process changes and expectations throughout the project.

7. Manage Change, Avoid Confusion – Organizational Change Management

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” – Robin Sharma

Organizational change management and planning will be a major factor in the success of implementation projects.  Keeping all levels of the organization engaged in the project is a great start, but as changes to day-to-day operations start rolling out having a concrete plan in place will help to speed user adoption, and avoid the spread of misinformation and chaos.  Successful change management strategies keep the company’s mission in mind, and make it clear to employees how these changes will help the company to meet their goals in order to create a common vision for change.  There must be a plan in place to educate employees the specifics of how their day-to-day work will change and rewards that encourage individuals to take ownership for their new roles and responsibilities.

8. Take Training Seriously

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Even the best system, implemented perfectly will be useless unless your users know how to use it correctly.  All proposed ERP users should be trained based on their role both before and after the system goes live.  This will ensure that they’ll have a solid understanding of how best to use the system in their day-to-day work, and also that they have the opportunity for a deeper dive into the functionality of the system after regularly using it.  Comprehensive training also helps to keep users engaged in the transition and receptive to change.

9. Test Everything

“Test the data, and it will confess to anything.” – Ronald Coase

Ensure that adequate testing is performed on the system before the new ERP solution goes live.  Typically, the first testing period is for optimization of rules, security, and policy calculations.  The second testing period, also called the conference room pilot (CRP) is to test that all users are adequately trained, business processes are configured based on functional requirements, and to gain a greater understanding of operational impacts of the new system.  Create a testing schedule and plan for all project members to attend.

10. Celebrate!

“Success is a series of small wins” – Jamie Tordy

It’s important to celebrate wins, both big and small, throughout ERP implementation projects.  Upon achieving critical milestones it’s important to make your team feel that their hard work is appreciated.  This will help keep everyone engaged, receptive to change, motivated, and ready for what comes next.

Implementing an ERP system will is a big project.  It will always require a lot of work from everyone involved but by following these tips you can keep your project on track, your team engaged, and your business thriving.

Contact us for help with your implementation project.

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