Be ERP Ready

By | December 10, 2012

Many SMB organizations undergo a rapid change in terms of processes, business practices, and leadership as they embark on their journey towards growth. This journey typically includes identifying and adapting best industry practices tailored to suit their business module.
There are various approaches to achieve success, one can always depend on the well-established, tried and tested method of refining the SOPs and streamlining the operations. To further drill down this to a grass root level, we can say having proper data processing and management software can be a place to start with. Here identifying an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and getting Vendor, Consultants on board is the easiest part, but preparing your organization ready to adapt new system is an important task, which if ignored can put most of your precious efforts and money implementing the system down the drain.
Few generic points to take care of while implementing any new system:
1. Get rid of the Status quo. – We like what we have, it works for us.

To modify a famous adage ‘Change is the only thing constant, and resistance to change is equally proportional to it.’

To implement any new set of processes or systems one has to overcome the natural tendency of human beings to resist change of any and every kind, in order to maintain the status quo. This resistance is rooted from the very base level of employees through the top level management, as mostly all of them are human beings 🙂 .

To overcome this resistance it needs to be replaced with a feeling bigger and more meaningful. Some people/companies go with the ‘pressurize-to-get-work-done’ approach which can work for short term but does not provide fruitful results for long term commitments as users never are aligned to the management way of thinking and provide real time inputs to improve the process.

The suggested way to overcome this challenge is by the way of implementing ‘knowledge-awareness’ approach, wherein users are briefed about what are the aims, goals, and what are the stumbling blocks for same in terms of getting real time data. Arranging for a product demo by the consultants or vendor can also help users develop a liking for the system before they are actually involved in implementation.

2. Identify resources who have implemented systems before.

Experience pays well, always! As the proverb goes, try to identify a resource that has already implemented/worked on an ERP system or at least has a fair idea of what these systems are. This functional know-how will help refine the process and the resource may eventually become the coordinator for the project.

Having experienced resources also help take away the negativity from team as they have seen the advantages of the systems and can create a feel good factor about the same.

3. Prepare for the contingencies.

No one can predict future, ever!

Delays and spills are an integral part of a project just like everything else, and they need to be thought out and prepared for in present. Contingency planning should be a part of your project plan and should be taken very seriously. Issues can range from well-trained resources suddenly quitting to the Vendor stopping support for the product or a change in law by the government. Take your time and plan out what all can go wrong, once you have this list then categorize the possible problems into critical and non-critical ones and start preparing a backup plan for critical ones.

As the saying goes, Prevention is better than cure!

4. Aim-Achieve-Master-Revise Aims.

One needs to understand that ERP implementation is not a one night job; it can have multiple facets to it and can be spread over a period of months to years. Having said that, we also need to make sure that an ERP project does not convert into a process where scope and deadlines do not count and management loses its interest due to lack of visibility and ROI.

The suggested approach is to plan for short term goals, define underlying tasks and responsible person and then achieve goal in defined timeline. Once this is done and systems are operational then try to work towards making the process sharper, more accurate, and less prone to errors. Find and fix the loopholes and gaps, let management come up with their own set of report requirements and then work on what all data needs to be fetched from where. Try to bring in processes that promote automation and make more and more transactions online. Plan, Succeed, and Improve Plan.

5. Either you have it or you don’t

Really, if you have it then you have it else you simply don’t, there can’t be an intermediate. So before jumping to any decisions ask yourself whether “are you ready for an ERP”? ‘Are you ready to improve your operations and streamline data entry and make the reporting real-time?’ ‘Are you planning for future of organization and ready to invest your time and money for the enrichment of the process?’

Once you have answered these questions with an affirmative then make sure you don’t stop till you complete your job. Every change faces a lot of resistance and every noble idea looks a bit childish at inception, but if you have the vision to foresee future, then you know that implementing systems is key factor to longer sustainability.

Hope you got what you were looking for and you are ERP Ready!