There is a tendency for companies selecting an ERP system to think about the process in a linear fashion. The company first identifies the need for new ERP software, executes an ERP selection project and then starts the implementation process. But there are a series of implementation steps that a company must perform regardless of which ERP system is selected. These steps can be accomplished during the ERP selection phase, thus increasing the speed of implementation and building momentum going into the implementation:
- Make sure your key implementation team members and possible super users are part of the selection process. Identify your key team members and involve them early in the ERP selection process. This builds involvement and project momentum.
- Define data standards for the new system. Chances are your legacy ERP system contains a mix of multiple part numbering systems, work center names, multiple methods for naming customers and suppliers and inventory location schemes. In the new system, these standards will be the same no matter which ERP software is chosen.
- Data conversion – if there is one area where there are always surprises (not necessarily good ones) during ERP implementation, it is during data conversion. Do a dry run of a data extraction into a format such as Excel. Better to find out early if there are going to be issues with this critical process.
- Data cleanup – do you really want to bring over data from the legacy system that hasn’t been accessed in years? Customer and Suppliers that have been inactive for years or finished goods that haven’t been sold in years? The organization should establish standards for what data is relevant and what is not. Remember, the legacy ERP system will still have all the legacy data should the company want to access it.
- Process flows – the company’s new process flows are going to be roughly the same regardless of the new ERP system. What does the company want to achieve with the new system in terms of customer service, inventory control, scheduling and shop floor reporting? Brainstorming these processes will not only get the team ready to implement the new system, but also help the company select the new system by establishing clearer requirements.
Starting some of the ERP implementation planning steps during the ERP selection phase can both assist in the selection of the new ERP system and avoid surprises during the implementation phase.