9 Tips for Selecting and Implementing an ERP System

    Selecting the right ERP system for your organization, and then creating a successful implementation plan, can be a complex and arduous undertaking. Check out the following tips from Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, business and technology writer for CIO.com, on how to best choose and deploy ERP software.

    Deploying an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is an expensive proposition, not just in terms of licensing dollars (SLA) and maintenance, but in terms of dedicated resources and time. And yet all too often, organizations, dazzled by vendor promises and hype, fail to come up with a viable long-term (or even short-term) roadmap.

    Here are nine tips on how to choose an ERP software solution and successfully deploy it.

    1. Get upper management support. "Companies that tend to struggle the most [with ERP] are the ones that lack upper management level involvement," says Daniele Fresca, director of Marketing, IQMS, a provider of industry-specific ERP solutions.

    2. Make a clear and extensive list of requirements before you start looking at vendors. "If you get one thing right, make it the up-front requirements gathering process," says Brian Shannon, principal business process management architect, Dolphin Enterprise Solutions. "Few things derail project budgets and timelines as the 'assumptive' or absent requirements." So make sure you engage with end users, IT and senior management.

    3. Don't forget mobile users. "As mobility and BYOD increase across industries, accessing ERP systems from desktops only is no longer an option," says Ilan Paretsky, vice president of Marketing, Ericom Software. Choose an ERP solution that "allows users to be productive on smartphones and tablets."

    4. Carefully evaluate your options before selecting your ERP system. "Poorly run and ill-defined evaluation projects can lead to poor implementations," says Tom Brennan, vice president of Marketing, FinancialForce.com, a provider of cloud-based ERP solutions. "Dicey requirement definitions and vague priorities can lead to the wrong vendor selection."

    5. Get references. "First and foremost, when shopping for an ERP solution provider, ask the vendor for at least three references," says Reuben Yonatan, founder, GetVoIP.com, a VoIP shoppers guide. Then "ask the customers what went right, what went wrong and what they might have done differently."

    6. Think before you customize. "Consider the amount of customization required to configure and deploy," says Steve Bittner, vice president of Professional Services, Unanet, a provider of Web-based software for managing people and projects. "Highly customized systems will generate higher cost … A turnkey solution may offer less flexibility but more stability, and less initial and ongoing cost."

    7. Factor in change management. "Organizational change management is pivotal to the success of your project," says Matt Thompson, vice president of Professional Services, Estes Group, an ERP-managed services and technology solutions provider. "Typical ERP projects facilitate massive change in organizations."

    8. Appoint an internal ERP product champion—and surround him or her with good people. "Do not rely on the vendor-appointed project manager only; have someone on your staff for this," says Morris Tabush, principal, the Tabush Group, a provider of managed IT services. Select someone within the organization, who knows or is comfortable managing software systems, to serve as the project manager, he advises.

    9. Provide the necessary time and resources for training on the ERP system. "Learning a new way of operating will require a significant time commitment for everyone, so the project team must take proactive measures to reduce the burden on employees," says Joel Schneider, cofounder, Liberty Technology Advisors, an IT consulting firm that specializes in ERP, business processes and project rescue.

    This article excerpt originally appeared here.

    -Daniel Ford, DiCentral

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