There are plenty of excellent reasons to upgrade your business management software. Maybe your internal systems are spread clumsily across spreadsheets on and off your network. Sometimes there’s just no transparency – no ability to see the wood for the trees (or the trees for the wood, for that matter) – so you don’t really know what’s going on down in the weeds and how that’s going to effect your long-term strategy.

Or perhaps you’ve realised that you’ve been missing out on accurate, complete, and up-to-the-minute data across your entire business and that’s what’s going to help you keep your competitive advantage.

Enterprise Resource Planning – or ERP as we refer to it in the biz – is the special sauce that brings together everything across HR, customer experience and relationship management, accounting, sales and procurement, production, planning, and distribution. And in today’s terms, we expect that to be real-time, cloud secure, and comprehensive.

So, if you’re thinking about implementing a new ERP and supercharging your business, the next thing would be to figure out what do you have to square up before you dive in?

Is now the right time to change?

Upgrading your ERP is a big deal, so you’ve got to have the hunger for it. The current cost of your systems might be one motivator, but equally you might be expecting a big change that will bring out some exponential growth and you know your current systems and infrastructure can’t handle it. Maybe your legacy, non-cloud-based system is starting to fray at the edges and it’s only a matter of time before it locks you out. What does your future look like – and can your current systems grow with you? After all one size never really does fit all, does it? Do you have a checklist of the things you need to do and address in order to make your vision of the future a realty? Probably, not (sorry!).

What’s the cost of business as usual?

We know that this is a pretty open-ended question, but here’s why we ask it: if you don’t yet have a budget, then you might not yet have quantified exactly the problem you’re trying to solve – or what it’s currently costing you.

Here’s where you should look at the costs of your current stack – all the subscriptions and server maintenance fees, the FTEs spent doing mundane work, the interruptions to productivity with down-time and copying files manually, the delays in getting data from satellite operations or on-site staff, the list goes on. And it adds up!

Build a business case

The next stage is determining what you expect the new ERP to deliver – and what benefits and savings you want to see. Do you know what specific problems you want to solve – and how did you arrive there? What’s the table-flipping frustration that you’ve just had it up to HERE with? How will you know a new ERP is smashing it out of the park? Are you aiming high enough when it comes to a better business? Let’s go blue sky – what’s the dream for seamless business operations? Let’s work to that.

Specific, time-measurable goals will help. And the more specific, the better. Again, it might be a decreased number of FTEs, or a complete nulling of downtime, or seamless integration across sites. Once you’ve got those planned out, then reaching them is a doddle.

Who’s your champion?

Changeover management is the art of having your team engaged in the transition to a new ERP, so by identifying the project team, the project sponsor (who’ll own the changeover), and the project manager, you’ll know who’s going to inspire and lead change within your team.

There are heaps of ways of going about change management, but they all require working with the ERP implementation team to develop strategies that help the team understand the purpose and goals of the new systems, handle simple requests, and perhaps pass on some of the fundamentals. Identifying someone whose style will suit your team and industry is key – they’ve got to get pretty wide buy-in, after all!

Can you afford it?

Not money-wise. Well, not strictly, anyway. Implementation takes time, whether that means staggering the stages of a roll-out or going in all at once. You’ve got to factor in what it means for your cashflow and HR when some (or potentially all) of a team, are training – and not in the depths of the ‘do’ of their roles. Will you need to hire in more, or plan for a temporarily reduced capacity? 

On the upswing, however, is that a successful implementation will deliver the time back – and then some – by solving those tooth-grinding problems that you set out to solve. If salespeople can see the stock on hand, then inventory holding can be reduced; stockouts mean that you can see future demand and know that you’re not going to have to print ‘Sorry, out of stock’ signs. If you’re in professional services, then you can plan your team’s resource allocations and see immediately whether a project will be profitable.

Get it right!

It’s easy to try to implement too much at once without considering change management and how your team naturally learn. That’s why having a trusted partner will make your ERP roll-out as close to flawless as possible.

You might have guessed by now that absolutely nailing an ERP implementation means understanding your situation – hence all the questions! No matter who you’re choosing, your partner should have demonstrated experience in the line of business you’re in so that they firstly understand what’s going to be right for you and can then demonstrate their bench strength when it comes to crunch time.

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