Four Steps for Successful ERP Implementation

July 25, 2014

ERP SuccessAn ERP implementation is a complex undertaking whose success is by no means ensured. Studies have shown that it is an endeavor that fails almost as often as it succeeds, but it is critical to the business that the implementation does succeed. Companies spend up to six percent of one year’s gross revenue on an implementation – an investment too large to be wasted in a failure. The only way to ensure successful ERP implementation is to follow these four steps:

        1. Define success
        2. Plan for success
        3. Execute for success
        4. Manage for success

 Defining Success

Before we even launch an ERP implementation, we must define success. Success cannot be defined as completing the project to replace the old systems on schedule and on budget because completing the project on time and on budget is necessary, but not sufficient. Success must be defined as achieving the return on investment (ROI) on which the implementation is based. The ROI is the goal we must keep in mind in every step in the project. Achieve the return and the implementation can be called a success.

Planning for Success

Success in the end begins with good planning in the beginning. Too many people think the first step in planning a project is defining the tasks that have to be performed. Starting with tasks can lead to lots of activity going on but very little being accomplished. Good project planning starts with defining the deliverables. Define what must be created then define the tasks it takes to create them. This focuses the activity toward accomplishing tangible results.

 Executing for Success

Successful execution of an ERP project is accomplished by taking actions to ensure barriers to creation of the deliverables are removed.  The big three barriers to the creation of the deliverables are communication problems, variation in the deliverables and confusion about priorities. Eliminate communications barriers by, where ever possible, arranging the project team so all the resources needed to create a deliverable sit together. The best way to eliminate variation is to provide standard tools and processes to produce like deliverables. Maybe the biggest barrier to successful project execution is the inability of the project team to complete deliverables in a timely manner. Eliminate confusion about deliverables by focusing people on completing one task at a time.

 Manage for Success

Good project management is the only way to ensure a successful ERP implementation. Good project management consists of actions taken to monitor and control of the project while steering it toward the desired result. Monitor and control of a project is often complex and cumbersome but can, and should be, simple. Make monitoring simple by helping people self monitor. Devise a way to let each person on a project team know in real time what has to be done and if they are on schedule.

 The only way to ensure successful ERP implementation is to define success by defining the return on investment, then to plan, execute, and manage for success. Planning for success means defining the deliverables and then planning the tasks, resources and schedule needed to create those deliverables. Successful execution is accomplished by timely and effective communication, creating quality deliverables and completing the deliverables on time.  Managing for success is ensured by having simple monitoring and controlling processes. It is critical to the business that the ERP implementation succeeds. These simple steps can help ensure that success.

 To learn more details about how to ensure your ERP implementation project is successful, contact Doug Howardell at or 626-836-9261

Image courtesy of tiramisustudio/

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