Have a plan before starting an ERP implementation initiative

////Have a plan before starting an ERP implementation initiative

Enterprise resource planning software is an extremely effective tool that can leverage efficiencies across the many operational fields of a business and create measurable cost savings.

However, the concept of getting out what you put in definitely applies to the selection, implementation and continued use of ERP software. As advanced and specialized as these systems are, companies need to make sure they're choosing the right solution based on a number of factors.

Businesses in the manufacturing and fabrication fields – broad terms that apply to a wide variety of companies that may have drastic operational and organizational differences – may see some specific benefit from the use of a buildable ERP solution like Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The ability to add function-specific modules to a base platform means that organizations can choose individual enhancements that make the most sense for their business. Instead of having to change an entire ERP system, organizations can add NAV modules as needed.

Map and understand risks
Business advice site IT Business Net suggests planning out an initial ERP purchase or upgrade carefully and thoroughly to minimize unexpected problems and delays. Because ERP systems require a not-insignificant upfront investment, understanding both company needs for the software and expectations of it will help decision-makers choose the right product.

The purchasing strategy should include representation from all the major areas of business operations – possibly including warehouse and inventory, accounting and financial, accounts payable and receivable – to get input from all departments. This way, a major component won't be left out and unique considerations from these teams can be addressed. Including front-line managers and workers can also provide deeper insight into what's needed from an ERP solution.

Be realistic about your culture
Understanding attitudes and operational realities at your business and include these in your plan. Business 2 Community recently discussed the different types of companies that may purchase ERP, from the extremes of those scared to flip the switch to others that dive in without fully understanding the system.

Although most companies won't fall at one of the ends of this spectrum, being able to talk to an ERP provider about which way the organization leads can help inform training, implementation as well as ongoing support.

Learn how to define your ERP strategy by downloading the white paper entitled "ERP in Manufacturing: Defining the ERP Strategy" from the DMS website today.