Today’s IT executives have more choices than ever when choosing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. From on-premises systems to cloud-based software-as-a-service to industry-based solutions, there is a dazzling array. And decision makers can feel overwhelmed when trying to determine which features and functions are the most important.
So CIO.com reached out to dozens of ERP experts, for advice on how to navigate this complex landscape. Specifically, we asked them to identify the biggest mistakes they see executives make when choosing, deploying or implementing an ERP system — as well as for suggestions as to how organizations can avoid making potentially costly errors.
1. Not doing careful requirements gathering
“It is very common, and very tempting, to take existing business processes as is and automate them with [an] ERP system,” says Ed Featherston, vice president and principal architect at Cloud Technology Partners, a consulting company. “While conceptually this is understandable, you must take the time and make the effort to analyze those processes as part of your ERP requirements gathering. Implementing a new ERP system is an opportunity to identify and improve/redesign your business processes. Automating a bad process only makes a bad process run faster.”
Similarly, “too many companies fail to identify crucial software usage issues/pain points and map out critical processes prior to beginning migration to a new ERP solution,” says Brian Berns, CEO of Knoa Software, which delivers enterprise cloud solutions. “Business-critical issues must be identified and addressed before the migration, so that necessary adjustments can be made to outdated, inefficient and complex processes before they are simply moved onto a new platform.”
2. Not including end-users (from all departments) in the decision-making process
“When implementing an ERP system, many organizations focus their time and effort on gaining approval from leadership executives, when they should be engaging key employees who will be using the system the most,” argues Kevin Beasley, CIO of VAI, an ERP software company.
“It’s crucial to involve employees not just from IT, but across the entire organization from finance, operations, manufacturing and warehouse,” he says. “Engaging stakeholders across the entire organization in every step of the decision-making process will ensure everyone is invested in finding and implementing the right solution as smoothly as possible.”
3. Not properly budgeting for technology staff
“We often see leaders underestimate the expenses involved with an implementation, which include maintenance and the level of talent needed to get the project off the ground successfully,” says Tim Webb, practice director of enterprise technology services at Robert Half Technology, a provider of technology staffing. “In instances where organizations are trying to accomplish more with less … we’ve seen it result in failed implementations. Take the time to properly budget, [taking into account] the talent driving the implementation, so you don’t come up against issues or surprises [later].”
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