How to implement a better ERP

DFN: My company (NextG Networks) is evaluating implementation of an ERP; we’re currently on EPICOR for accounting / finance. EPICOR is a ‘mid-range’ accounting solution with modules that allow it to migrate into a full services ERP.

Five Tips for Better Enterprise Resource Planning
Jan 5, 2010, By Chad Vander Veen, Associate Editor
http://www.govtech.com/gt/articles/736034

John Hoebler, a director at McLean, Va.-based business and technology solutions company MorganFranklin, offers five tips for anyone looking to optimize an enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation.

Tip #1: Explore and understand your needs and capabilities.

Determine what your current business and operational objectives are, and examine what you are using in your current ERP package.

It’s best to document precisely what modules you have in place, and then move through each module, feature by feature, to assess if you’re currently using each feature. If you are using a feature, are you using it to its fullest functionality? If you’re not using a feature, what’s the feature’s value and what is the cost to implement it?

This forms a full picture of how to focus efforts to minimize spending while maximizing the return. Some questions typically asked during this phase are: How many people and how much effort are required to complete each process? What are the current issues? Where is the process being bogged down? What features are you using or not using today? What is the new release that can help solve your issues? Have you purchased software that is on the shelf and could help you?

Tip #2: Prioritize your options.

Rank each feature based on the following factors: timeline to implement, cost to implement, organizational readiness to accept the feature, and expected benefits of implementing the feature. By ranking each feature for these factors, you can create a score that ranks the features based on a cost-benefit analysis. The score should provide an objective assessment of which features would provide the most value to the organization both in the near term and the long term. It also can provide a ranking to determine how to efficiently deploy the resources you have on hand, as the to-do list will be long and require extensive planning to match resources, timeline and objectives.

Tip #3: Look for quick wins.

Consider taking on a few quick wins first before completing a big ERP optimization project. These will help demonstrate the ERP optimization’s potential to the business users and help make a case for a big project grouped in with several high-priority tasks. Typically there are five to 10 quick wins that can be implemented within days or weeks that provide immediate benefits, while also providing results that can be the basis for funding larger projects.

Tip #4: Don’t forget about change management.

Since the direct results of an optimization effort are changed or new processes, change management should be an integral part of an optimization effort. Identify and involve impacted end-users early in the process. Schedule formal training if needed, and update existing business process documentation.

Tip #5: Optimization is a continuous journey.

Government processes and applications will continually change over time. So should your ERP. ERP optimization assessments should be continually updated – at least annually – to keep your feature inventory up-to-date and aligned with your organizational goals.

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