4 ERP planning and design strategies for project success

Here are some tried-and-true ERP planning and design strategies in use today.

Most organizations enter the ERP implementation process with the understanding that deploying such a system requires considerable time and resources. In fact, the average ERP project unfolds over 16 months and costs $1.3 million, according to research from Panorama Consulting Solutions. Despite this awareness, many undercut their initiatives during the initial planning and design stages, embracing problematic workflows that carry long-term, negative repercussions.

With this in mind, adopters must navigate the opening phases of the ERP implementation journey with great care and deploy procedural methodologies that facilitate the roll out of an effective, return on investment-rich system. Here are some tried-and-true ERP planning and design strategies in use today:

Obtain organization-wide support
Employees engaged with backend support systems and other hidden enterprise machinery easily understand the merits of an ERP. However, those in non-technical departments may not. In reality, most workers resist operational changes of any kind. Last year, Deloitte connected with ERP project leaders across myriad industries and asked them to identify the biggest roadblocks to implementation. More than 80 percent cited resistance to change as the top barrier. This is not some minor problem to be solved via top-down directive. No matter what business leaders say, employees will use whatever workflows support productivity. Most are more than willing to create workarounds to surpass technology they view as cumbersome or ineffectual.

ERP project teams must address this potential problem at the outset. How? Actively connecting with workers and explaining the benefits of the ERP is a good start, according to Deloitte. Stakeholders should help everyday employees understand the business case for the new system and communicate how said solution will fit into everyday activities. The latter variable is especially important, as end users will want to know how the platform will affect the day-to-day.

Of course, project leaders should also spend considerable time making a similar case to the executive team, CIO reported. C-level support is absolutely critical, for organizational leaders are responsible for freeing up the resources required for implementation. Plus, these high-ranking personnel can use their clout to further reinforce the importance of the project within the business and encourage widespread use. Stakeholders can win over executives by presenting detailed implementation plans and budget information. Additionally, it is wise to update business leaders throughout the lifetime of the project to keep them engaged and on board.

ERP adopters should focus on strong system planning and design.
ERP adopters should focus on strong system planning and design.

Create a realistic budget
ERP implementation is expensive. While the average project cost has fallen in recent years, most enterprises still shell out millions to adopt ERP platforms. Although these expenses even out in the long run as the business grows with the new backend system in place, companies must still pay considerable amounts up front. Unfortunately, many adopters attempt to control costs by embracing overly conservative budgets that do not comport with the reality of ERP implementation. That is why a significant portion experience cost overruns. Last year, for example, an estimated 74 percent of companies with active ERP projects in place watched as actual spend surpassed projections, according to Panorama Consulting Solutions.

Businesses adopting ERP platforms can avoid this mess by researching average project costs and creating detailed implementation plans that cover everything from system design to employee training. This way, stakeholders and their C-level supporters can have an accurate, clear picture of the road ahead and set aside the right amount, as opposed to the figure that feels good.

Pick an experienced partner
ERP solution providers offer all sorts of proprietary platforms stuffed with flashy, seemingly essential product features. This state of affairs can create problems during the system evaluation phase, as project team members get overly invested in software demonstrations and push for vendors based solely on what unfolded on the screen before them. This is not the ideal methodology for selecting an implementation partner.

Instead, project teams should sit down and develop a list of must-have platform features that correlate to larger business goals, Manufacturing Business Technology reported. This pragmatic approach will lend those on the ERP evaluation group clarity and help them see past the gimmicks that fill most product demos. In addition to finding vendors that offer the right ERP components, adopters must also focus on working with partners that have demonstrable industry experience. Simply selecting good software is not enough. Project teams must pinpoint vendors that can integrate their solutions into industry-specific production environments.

Design something that works
When it comes down to designing an effective system, project teams tend to focus on larger backend components that power mission-critical ERP processes. These fixtures are, of course, immensely important but it is often better to take a more holistic approach to product design so as to roll out a system that not only possess great computational power but also works within the context of the business, according to ERP Software Blog.

In addition to pinpointing critical components and linking them to overarching business targets, project teams should spend considerable time contemplating usability concerns. Can employees easily incorporate system usage into their work days? Will the ERP data entry process bolster productivity or hinder it? These are incredibly important factors. Additionally, technical experts from the information technology department must evaluate the system and its infrastructure to ensure it integrates well with the existing company network. Operational leaders should conduct similarly intense functional reviews to understand how the ERP might affect production workflows.

Using this approach, project teams can work with vendors to create ERP platforms that suit the business and function flawlessly.

ERP implementation comes with considerable risks. However, businesses can mitigate these dangers by embracing pragmatic solution planning and design processes like the ones mentioned above. 

Is your organization prepared to embark on the ERP implementation journey and in need of a trusted software provider? Connect with Accent Software. As a Microsoft business solutions partner, we offer the Dynamics NAV/ERP platform, an ideal choice for enterprises of all sizes. Contact us today to earn more about our software and service offerings