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Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation Series: Part 4

Implementing Enterprise Resource Planning

Implementing enterprise resource planning has been on the agenda of many organizations as they see through their digital transformation plans.

Now, given the current situation, companies are having to start the process of implementation for many solutions in order to meet the demands of a hybrid workforce that is both at home and out in the field or still at the office.

The problem for many SMBs is they find themselves in the current climate unprepared or underprepared to make drastic changes in such a short period of time.

That’s why this series has been, week by week, assessing the most important solutions you need and how you can kick-start your plans for immediate transformation.

Take a look back at the previous entries in the series: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

For part four of our Fast-Tracking Your Digital Transformation series, we’ll be taking a look at the reasons you may need an ERP for your business and how you can get a solution rapidly deployed in your organization.

Why Is ERP Important?

Related Post: ERP in 2020: Defining Enterprise Resource Planning

The reason businesses are more frequently implementing enterprise resource planning systems is first and foremost to improve their operational processes.

ERPs unify all the major software systems across your company, giving you real-time access to reporting and analysis at every level.

An estimated 95% of businesses report improvements in their processes after implementation. For example, automated tasks for processing data entry can free up employees to focus their energies on tasks that require a human touch

In the past—and to a large extent the present—businesses were more accustomed to their various departments using on-premise legacy applications.

The issue with these apps is that they cannot communicate with each other, with means a breakdown of communication between them and eventually leads to siloed departments.

An ERP centralizes your data, so that the decision makers who need information have instant access to it, instead of having to chase up stakeholders in different departments to varying levels of success.

Weakened Supply Chains

One of the biggest issues in the current business environment is the disruption to supply chains, particularly for SMBs working with fine margins.

Factories and warehouses are operating with smaller workforces abiding by strict safety procedures to prevent transmission.

With workers spread thin in a time like this, it’s absolutely vital that managers have total visibility and access to necessary data in order to successfully manage their supply chains and keep business operations continuing as normally as possible.

Investing in an ERP means you can get ahold of the information you need, whenever you need, helping you stop your supply chain become a bottleneck for your business.

This is just one example of how an ERP can help during this time.

Supply chain management is often left behind in digital transformation pursuits—just 2% of decision makers report that supply chains are the focus of their digital strategies

Processes of a Cloud ERP

Financials, customer service ratings, supply chain management, and more; everything is available through a cloud ERP.

As they’ve become more readily available to SMBs, the competition to implement them has become increasingly apparent across virtually every industry.

Processes of an ERP include:

  • Project management: With financials directly linked to projects, it’s much simpler to determine the goals and successes of projects
  • Inventory and supply chain: Tracking and measuring stocked goods, supervising goods flow from manufacturers all the way to point of sale
  • HR: Employee databases, payroll, performance, timesheets; all examples of HR tasks that can be handled with an ERP
  • Automated reports: Scheduled reporting of the most important takeaways delivered for each department to assess easily
  • Sales and marketing: CRM modules mean easier interactions with customers; following up on orders; sending automated invoices; using data to execute personalized marketing campaigns

Can I Quickly Implement a Cloud ERP?

For most business leaders, the words “quickly” and “ERP” appearing in the same sentence may cause confusion.

It’s okay, it’s not easy to lay out a plan for implementation, and anyone guaranteeing an overnight fix for all your problems probably doesn’t have a lot of experience with this.

The good news, however, is that you can rapidly deploy an ERP system—if you have the right plan and the knowledge to carry out that plan.

Businesses will have varying degrees of capabilities when it comes to ERP implementation.

If you’re able to assemble an in-house team that can install the software, cleanse the data, migrate the data, configure and perform the appropriate QA tests, deploy, and maintain, then more power to you!

For most SMBs, however, they simply won’t have the resources or experience to implement an ERP, let alone do it in a sensitive timeframe.

That’s why we recommend getting a partner on-board to help audit, consult, and implement your ERP and get everything running smoothly as fast as possible.

If you’ve decided you need an ERP and begin the implementation process, only to discover that your plan can’t be achieved successfully, it will cause a lot of pain and hassle—and this is no time for a novice.

Stages of Implementation

During the implementation process, these are the steps you can expect your business to go through.

This is by no means comprehensive, but it demonstrates an outline of what’s to come.

Discovery

This is where your existing business processes will be assessed and examined.

You’ll talk about where you’re at, where you want to get to, the scope and vision of the project and the financials of it.

This will help you determine your expectations and a timeline for achieving your implementation.

Installation

You, or your partner, will build out the ERP according to your needs, outlined during the discovery phase.

If your ERP is customized, then this is the point at which you and the partner will make sure that it has been built according to what was agreed.

Migration

Data will be cleansed and prepared to move over to the new ERP system.

This means getting the appropriate stakeholders involved in order to make sure that all the data being migrated onto the new system is up to standard.

Getting rid of duplicate, unnecessary, or outdated data to get your new system off to a flying start are all crucial aspects of this.

Testing

ERP testing is when your partner will perform a QA process designed to make sure the ERP system has been correctly implemented and is fully operational before going live.

This is done to iron out the kinks in the software and make sure there’s no surprises or problems on launch.

Training

Adoption from stakeholders is crucial to ensuring the success of your ERP—without buy-in from them you risk the whole project.

Users will be shown how to correctly and effectively use the new system, and a good training program should engage them well and avoid confusing them too much.

Deployment

The big day is here, where you wheel out your new system and say hello to a more productive business—going live.

Support

You must continue to support your ERP system as part of your implementation.

This is where you will understand how successful your ERP has been in driving your business.

Are you getting a return on investment? Fewer data errors in processing tasks? Better productivity? Happier clients?

These are the questions you will have answered as you move forward, as your partner will support the maintenance of the system and ensure it operates as intended.

The Bottom Line

The COVID-19 outbreak has shocked everybody, and small nuisances in business operations have become huge issues for SMBs in this environment.

Every business can be helped with the insight an ERP provides, and the need for them now—with supply chain disruptions and remote workforces—has never been more apparent.

If you have the people and resources to carry out this process on your own, then that’s great.

For most SMBs, they will likely need a partner to help them with implementing enterprise resource planning.

If the implementation phase seems daunting; don’t be afraid—you can get an ERP system rapidly deployed to get you on your feet.

Just make sure you get the right partner involved who will do a quality job for you.

In light of recent events, many organizations have found themselves playing catchup, trying to implement makeshift cloud solutions to make up lost ground while their workforces see drastic transformations.

To find out more about how the cloud can ensure your business is in good shape for the future, download our eBook, “Which Cloud Option Is Right For Your Business?”