Read up. The first stage in finding a suitable ERP system is to Read up and Research. Spend a lot of time in assimilating as much knowledge as possible. Google is your friend
Then Shortlist some vendors. Again research their products properly. New is not always bad. Old and experienced is not always good. The product is what matters.
Be aware of costs for the base product and for customization. Many vendors quote a very small base price and then make bank with hidden costs. Take your time finalizing, but once a vendor is finalized stop looking at other options. It can be too stressful. Trust your decision and go with it all in.
Spend a lot of time in documenting and signing-off requirements. Be aware of your scope of work. Don't compromise by accepting less than the agreed features. Equally, don't bully the vendor by asking more than agreed.
Start using the system. The best designed system will still have bugs, that's what updates are for. If you wait till everything is perfect before starting to use, you might as well not invest in an ERP.
Document every process with details including flowcharts, images and screenshots. If the processes aren't documented and followed, it defeats the purpose of an ERP.
Have management buy in at every step, and ensure there is a push from the top to use the system. Many employees are averse to change, and may try to avoid using the system.
Do not make ad-hoc decisions and exceptions to your own processes. It is simple to allow an exception, but over time the process is destroyed if there are more exceptions than rules. Take time to finalize a process, but once finalized stick to it.
Stay in constant touch with the vendor even when the system is fully implemented. They may have new features that may still help you. If there is an AMC, pay it to enjoy all new developments.
There is no correct answer to this question. There is no such thing called a typical ERP implementation. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. It can take two weeks for someone, and eight months for another. It can even take a few months to get it right. It depends on a lot of factors.
We will discuss here a few factors that directly affect the timelines.
Do they have full clarity on what step precedes and succeeds every step in all departments?
How close are those steps to industry best practices?
Are there complicated approval workflows, which follow a very different route compared to other similar companies?
In absence of such processes or clarity, is the company willing to adopt new processes as suggested by an experienced implementation guide?
Implementation is faster if actual processes being followed on ground are clear or when there is willingness to adopt best practices.
If items, services and SKU's already have good naming conventions that are clearly defined, implementation can be supercharged. If there is an item master for reference, and parts are stock coded by well-defined formulas, it is a breeze to import data. Once the item data is imported, categorized and ready to use, implementation timelines are significantly lowered. In absence of this, time needs to be invested in this area as it is one of the most crucial fields depending on the variety and number of SKU's.
Implementation is faster in presence of a simple item variety and/or clear naming convention of available items
Who's the Champion?
Who's the Champion?
There has to be a SPOC - a Single Point Of Contact - who acts as a champion to liaise between the ERP vendor and the various employees/departments to simplify the process. Implementations are often stressful, as most employees already have their pre-defined work and extra time and effort has to be invested for this activity. The implementation team asks questions, seeks clarifications, expects sign-offs, etc. from lots of people at the same time who have many different priorities. At this point, this champion will need to get everyone involved towards a common goal.
Implementation is faster when there is a designated implementation champion with authority and willingness to move things and engage people
Everything is meaningless if the top management doesn't give enough importance to this activity. The implementation activity needs to be driven from the top. Most employees in middle as well as lower levels have no incentive to spend any extra time and effort to help the implementation team. Any case, change can be scary and confusing for many users. Unless the people on the top do not intervene and interact periodically with the people involved in the process, timelines will keep suffering and blame games will begin for the delays.
Implementation is faster when there is a push from management to show the seriousness of the activity
The implementation process has to be assigned a high priority. If people are expected to do their job, and interact with the implementation team when they have time or when they feel like it, it won't succeed. Unless all level of employees who are expected to interact with the team are conveyed the priority of the process, they will obviously be focused on their regular job. Time has to be created for this activity.
Implementation will be faster if the process is declared and agreed as a high priority activity