Challenges People Face When Implementing ERP in Their Businesses
Choosing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is becoming a very complicated process, as the number of ERP options on the market explode.
The solutions vary from host it yourself services, to cloud-based services, to ERP services dedicated to specific industries. And because of this, many feel overwhelmed due to the increasingly challenging nature of choosing and implementing an ERP solution in their business.
In this article, we will go over some of the most common challenges business face when implementing an ERP solution for their organization. And while there are quite a lot of challenges in the process, they shouldn't stop you or your business from benefiting from an ERP solution.
ERP Feature Fatigue
While the specific features of ERPs vary from solution to solution, people often let these get in the way of the actual purpose of an ERP during implementation. The most common challenge people face is trying to implement each and every feature included with their ERP while forgetting what the ERP solution is supposed to do in the first place.
Instead of picking the ERP solution with the biggest feature list, businesses should focus on the features that are specific to their industry only, instead of trying to use them all. When trying to implement and use each and every feature that comes with an ERP product, it often complicates the implementation immensely.
Budgeting Poorly For ERP Implementation
A common challenge you see is leadership underestimating the cost and maintenance, including the software costs, the temporary drop in efficiency, and the additional staff or man-hours needed to complete the implementation.
Nothing is worse than starting an implementation project, only to later run out of resources half-way through and ending up with a half-working system.
ERP Implementation Team Support
Most often businesses that are about to start using an ERP product leave the responsibility with the IT or tech staff. This is a huge mistake that will complicate implementation.
The complications mostly arise from the fact that the current IT staff have separate responsibilities, and that ERP implementation can be a full-time job. A successful implementation requires a team trained in the process.
While some business that are implementing an ERP solution choose to hire dedicated ERP implementation experts, it is possible to be successful with existing staff if you can reassign their daily responsibilities until the implementation is complete.
Stopping Too Early
While implementing an ERP takes time, some businesses think the process is over once the system is fully in place. However, in order to correctly and properly implement an ERP, there needs to be some time allotted for maintenance and changes after the solution is in place.
This might mean having someone on your staff that is responsible for the ERP system long term, in case of changes arise. It is common for an ERP system to be implemented to the point of working, and then when the first issue arises, then buy-in from leadership is lost, and the system is abandoned.
A big issue most ERP implementations have is communication between departments at all stages of the implementation. Simply put, implementing an ERP solution requires buy-in from every department.
For example, many SME’s (small and medium enterprises) need data sharing capabilities across multiple areas of the enterprise, not only for a more efficient workflow, but also to guard against numerous vulnerabilities that they are commonly exposed to.
So if you do have to include a communication outline in your implementation plan, getting everything working an in place is going to be a challenge, and reduces buy-in at the same time. Any department of a business hates having a new solution or software sprung on them.
Not Understanding Local vs. Cloud Software
Before choosing to host your own ERP solution, you need to evaluate how this changes the implementation process. Compared to a cloud-based solution, a locally or self-hosted solution requires staff with server management experience.
Also, some locally hosted solutions allow for customizations at the code level. This means that not only do the staff in charge of implementation need hosting knowledge, but they might also need to have some coding experience too. When hosting your own solution, downtime is something that you need to plan for during the implementation. That means having redundant back-ups.
Not Using A Change Management Process During Implementation
Keeping up with changes to a solution during implementation is critical to having it implemented correctly. Every implementation requires changes, and if you do not have a process to track and communicate these changes to every department, then implementation will be extremely challenging.
And when talking about changes, that doesn’t just apply to the software and its features, but the ever-changing requirements from each department inside the business. It is very common for departments to think of or realize additional features or different ways to implement an ERP solution after it is purchased and implementation has already begun.
Setting Implementation Goals
Usually, ERP implementations start with the goal of “get it implemented.” However, setting goals or milestones for the implementation can make everything move a lot smoother.
These goals can be based on department, or by the percentage that the solution has been implemented business-wide. Trying to implement something complicated like an ERP solution without some sort of goals or project management plan will leave you or your team feeling directionless.
Trying To Implement Too Quickly
The process of implementing and using an ERP solution is a very complex process. And it’s not possible to implement every feature or process at the beginning all at once. Usually, when implementing software, a standard waterfall model is used.
The waterfall model means that each task is done in succession after the previous. However, when implementing ERP, because of various requirements and features, this will complicate the process.
The more preferred approach is to use a project management tool. This means that you define the feature or requirement that you are implementing, and then give the team responsible for the implementation a one or two-week “sprint” to integrate that feature or aspect into the business. While it may not seem ideal that some departments will start using the ERP solution sooner than others, it will make the process a lot simpler and increase buy-in from department to department.
This is a guest post by Samuel Bocetta. He is a retired cybersecurity analyst, currently reporting on trends in cryptography and cybercrime.