123735964_MYou have identified a need. You have done a thorough audit of your current systems. You have found outdated processes which could benefit from an ERP.

Now, you are ready to fix pain points, boost productivity and transform your business with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. To be successful, though, you should follow a plan and keep some key factors in mind.

To get started with an ERP implementation, your business needs to be prepared for a software upgrade, making sure all of the end users are trained on the new system and transitioning your data into the new software. Sounds like a daunting task, right? It does not have to be. With these steps, you will ensure that an ERP strengthens your company and gives you greater flexibility to grow your business and keep customers and employees satisfied.

Let’s get started.

Know your objective. This is why you are implementing an ERP. This should include your business’s core needs and what the ERP will solve. This is the vision you have for your business after the implementation is complete. Working toward a goal will keep you focused when issues arise during the implementation phase. Plus, having a road map of the overall scope of the project is helpful so that every person who is responsible for an aspect of the process knows their part.

Put together a rockstar team. Speaking of the people responsible for the process, it is important that you assemble a team that is comprised of individuals from every aspect of the business. If you leave out a department, you are running the risk of creating a new pain point instead of fixing the existing ones. Once you have identified the right people to guide the implementation process, make sure that you have shared the objective. Being transparent about the timeline and expectations will help the project run smoothly. To keep everyone happy, make sure to get buy-in and input throughout the process. When people do not feel like they have a stake in the process, they will not perform to the best of their abilities which could slow down the overall implementation.

Create the plan. Now that you have assembled the team and received everyone’s feedback and buy-in, it is time to analyze your current processes from every department and every aspect of your business. Once you have thoroughly audited your business, you will have a clearer picture of what needs to be done and when, so that you can set a reasonable timeline for your ERP implementation. It is important to start with data migration from your current software to your new ERP so that your business can continue running while you are completing the subsequent stages.

Train your staff on the new system. This part is one of the most important parts of the entire process. Initial training will help get your staff on the same page, while continuous training ensures long-lasting effects from the new system. This is a time when end users can share their experiences and help smooth out any issues that have arisen from the ERP implementation. It also helps you share the overall vision for where your business is heading. Plus, people get excited when presented with new opportunities and when they feel like their contributions are valued. The ERP implementation process can be a fresh chapter for your company.

Test, test, test and then flip the switch. The testing phase is by far the most important so that when you do finally flip the on switch, you will have as few bugs as possible. During testing, anything goes. You want to “break” things. You want your users to go about their everyday functions and test all aspects of the ERP. It is better to find bugs now than when you are live and relying on the new system to run your business. Test all scenarios, then test them again. Dedicate a significant amount of time to the testing phase, even more than you initially think is the right amount. This is not like a light switch. Once you switch on, you are committed to fixing any issues in real time.

Do a deep debrief. Once the project is completed, it is important to bring the team back together once more for a detailed dive into how everything went. Make sure that you give everyone the chance to share their wins and losses so that you understand the scope of what everyone did and where the issues were. You will learn valuable lessons from each person’s input. You might even find out that certain individuals have hidden talents. At the end of the project, do not forget to dole out praise and earned rewards for the entire team. Their work was the first step to a new way forward for your business, so a token of your appreciation will keep the momentum going.