ERP Implementation Success

Major Projects like ERP implementations have an organization wide impact. Failure in such porjects can have disruptive to catastrophic effects in financial and operational sense.

A study by Analyst firm Gartner says that 55% to 75% of all ERP projects (including Tier-One Products like SAP and Oracle) fail to meet their objectives. Whether the Enterprise Resource project is an upgrade to newer version, infrastructure restructuring, new statutory compliance leading to modifications, organization must strive to cover all angles to ensure success. The implementation process can make or break a successful ERP launch or upgrade. Worries about project creep, extra costs, modification tangles, and pushed back Go-Live dates can make even the most resilient CIO dread moving into the implementation stage.

“The weakest link in an ERP implementations chain is the need for change management.” Rakesh Khator, Lighthouse Info Systems

With every project, the decision to move on from existing legacy systems and implementing new systems and the changes needs attention to broad success parameters and avoiding common pitfalls. Preparation takes months of evaluations, demos, discovery meetings, and documenting workflows. What are the key elements that make the difference?

Define the ERP strategy around your company’s core business requirements

The most important thing to do before the start of the ERP implementation is to identify your organization’s processes, roles, hierarchy, departments etc. Identify the Key Performance Indicators(KPI) which that best fits your kind of business and will help you measure and quantify success.

The Last Mile is the Most Critical

The first step in decreasing derailments in implementations is pinpointing exactly where in the process they are most likely to occur. Often, this is in the last mile functionality. The “last-mile” refers to the processes that are unique to the company.

They are often vertical-specific and involve specialized terms or workflows that have been a part of the company’s standard procedures for years, even decades. Last mile functionality can also be related to proprietary shop floor innovations or equipment that was custom-built by in-house teams. Pride of ownership is often visible, running deep through the organization.

These specific processes are often so ingrained in the company culture that the prospect of changing them seems impossible. Users can be highly protective of their favorite screens, dashboards, or series of drop-downs. These specific software features may not be part of the standard ERP being purchased. Rather than relinquish their favorite features, the company turns to modifications.

In the early years of ERP solutions, company specific alterations were the norm. Organizations enthusiastically embraced modifications to tailor clumsy, generic ERP solutions to their industry and processes. As the pace of change picked up and, upgrades to the systems subsequently needed to become more frequent the down-side of modifications started to be fully understood.

Waking Up From the Modification Nightmare

While many organizations have learned this lesson, others are just waking up to the hard, cold realization: modifications are obstacles to future upgrades.

They carry large price tags and cause broken links and integration issues, and often require more time-intensive coding to make them integrate correctly to the upgrade. These patched solutions and workarounds can be hard to maintain. Further, the longer these odd pieces are fit together, the harder it may be to fully modernize. These of customized features are often where new implementation processes go astray. Fortunately, this can be avoided.

Here are certain features that are part of Lighthouse ERP. These considerations help to achieve a smooth implementation across various clients in different industries, geographies and statutory business environment.

Industry-Specific Functionality.

Will users be expected to give up all of their personalizations? They shouldn’t be.

Modern solutions with highly flexible architecture and extensibility give the organization options for creating reports, building new forms, adding workflows, and changing prescribed responses, such as escalation alerts or mandatory steps. Refinements should be allowed to be made by using the core architecture and not re-writing it.

Implementation Accelerators.

Some software providers offer other tools which organizations are finding helpful in the implementation stage, such as accelerators.

Accelerators are sets of pre-built forms, reports, dashboards and role-based workbenches which give the team a head start on migrating data from the old system to the new and setting up the necessary workflows. They save time and help the organization adopt industry best practices.

Knowledge Base and Training Tools.

The addition of training tools can help employees ask the right questions or even discover the answer themselves.

Tools are sometimes available which will help users share insights or talk through a problem with team members. Educational aspects can be incorporated which allow managers to outline procedures and link to Help files. Workflows can also be created so that users must follow prescribed paths, comply with mandates, and fulfill requirements before leaving a screen.

Easy-to-Use Interface.

For the implementation to go smoothly, the ERP needs to be user-friendly and easy to learn, with navigation that is intuitive and dashboards that push relevant data to the user. Software that is pleasing to look at and that generates a positive user experience will appeal to employees and help the overall implementation process.

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