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The 9 Most Common ERP Implementation Challenges

The 9 Most Common ERP Implementation Challenges

ERP implementation challenges can often seem overwhelming. A new ERP system can improve productivity and efficiency, but when you encounter ERP implementation issues, it may undermine confidence in the project.

To keep your ERP implementation on track and maintain the confidence of stakeholders throughout your organization, it pays to understand the potential challenges of ERP implementations.

Fortunately, good planning and a bit of foresight about potential ERP implementation challenges can help you prevent those kinds of problems from happening in the first place. In this article, we’ll talk about common ERP implementation issues and how to avoid them.

Why are ERP systems difficult to implement?

ERP software can be complicated, especially in larger companies with relatively complex business processes. ERP solutions are comprehensive by their very nature. In other words, they touch upon many different aspects of the business, so to avoid ERP implementation challenges, you’ll need to establish good channels of communication with virtually every department in your organization.

Here are some examples of ERP challenges that you should be thinking about as you embark on your implementation project:

Securing commitment from top management: Many ERP implementation challenges can be resolved simply by getting top your executive management team on board early. That includes getting the necessary funding and allocating adequate staff resources, of course, but it also helps to get top management to send a clear message to the entire organization that the implementation of ERP is a high priority. As you work with your stakeholders, use that management commitment as a lever to hold people accountable.

Getting buy-in across the organization: Stakeholders across all departments must be educated about the importance of a successful implementation. Familiarize them with some of the issues with ERP systems that may arise as you move forward with your ERP solution. Help people to understand that there will be some ERP implementation challenges, but that in the end, getting the right system for your business will make it worthwhile.

Selecting the right ERP vendor: Take the time to explore the options available to you. There are a great many ERP products available, and most vendors will claim that they can meet all your needs. Talk to your industry peers and ask them which ERP software they are using. Find out what they like about it, and what has disappointed them, if anything.

Building an ERP project team: Your project team should be cross-functional, with a mix of organizational knowledge and skills. You’ll also want to consider the mix of personalities involved. Your ERP implementation is an important initiative; make sure your ERP project team has the right chemistry and skillset to do the job. Also, make sure that managers are on board and are willing to allocate the necessary staff time to the project.

Managing your budget: ERP software is an investment. It can quickly deliver enough savings to pay for itself, but it’s important to avoid a lot of changes, which can cause you to go over budget. As you encounter ERP implementation challenges, you may uncover requirements that were never identified during the planning process. Change can be costly, so plan on making some difficult decisions when you encounter those kinds of ERP implementation issues.

Setting clear expectations: When you first begin your ERP implementation, your stakeholders will likely have their own ideas about what the end result will look like. Make sure people throughout the company understand what the new system will do, and what it won’t do. Help them understand what your timeline looks like, and what kind of commitment you’ll need from them to make sure your ERP software rollout delivers positive results.

Managing change: Even if you do a great job setting expectations, there will likely be some resistance to change. Make sure your ERP project team is sensitive to the concerns of end-users throughout the organization. Do what you can to assure people that any ERP implementation challenges you encounter are surmountable.

Planning necessary hardware upgrades: If you’re planning to implement an on-premise ERP system, be sure to factor in the hardware and infrastructure you’ll need. A slow ERP system can frustrate. By planning ahead, you can fend off some of the common challenges related to system performance.

Expecting the unexpected: No matter how carefully you plan your ERP implementation, unexpected situations will come up. This may include a staff member leaving the ERP project team, new requirements emerging midstream, or unforeseen budgetary pressures. Plan carefully, but plan on being flexible when necessary.

What are the top ERP implementation issues?

Just by being aware of the challenges listed above, you can generally avoid the most common ERP implementation issues. There are some specific problems with ERP solutions that you should watch for:

Unclear requirements: It can be difficult to capture every detail of every business process. If an unidentified requirement appears in the middle of your ERP project, it can sometimes be difficult to address. Start with clear business goals, engage a variety of stakeholders, and plan carefully.

Scope creep: In many cases, staff will propose new capabilities that involve more work or increased budget. Focus on the clear business goals that you began with, and consider dealing with any new requests after the ERP implementation project is complete.

Insufficient staff commitment: Make sure you hold team members accountable for their role in the ERP implementation process. Your ERP project team must be dedicated and willing to do what it takes to see the project through to its completion, despite the common challenges.

Data quality issues: Data migration involves moving your ERP data over from your old system. This is an especially important element in a successful implementation. Make sure you understand which data will be migrated and whether the data quality is adequate.

How can you avoid ERP implementation challenges?

It is possible to avoid ERP implementation challenges, or at the very least, to minimize the issues that result from them. Here are some tips:

Clarify priorities: Start with clear business goals, and put your priorities in writing. When your ERP project team and top management share a common vision for what is most important, you’ll be on track for a successful implementation.

Communicate progress: Frequent updates can go a long way toward easing concerns about potential ERP implementation issues. Make sure all of your stakeholders understand what has happened, what’s coming, and what they can expect when your ERP implementation is complete.

Use your executive sponsors: When ERP implementation challenges show up, call upon your top management to step in. They can ensure commitment from middle managers, allocate additional staff when necessary, and support you in the decisions you must make along the way.

Select the right ERP implementation partner: Don’t try to go it alone. An expert ERP partner can make all the difference. Look for a company that understands your industry and has a good track record of successful ERP implementations.

Getting Started

If you would like help in selecting the best type of ERP implementation for your organization, the experts at WM Synergy would love to speak with you. For every client we work with, WM Synergy will take time to get to know your business, identify the right Manufacturing ERP solution or Distribution ERP solution to fit your needs, and help you select the ERP implementation methodology that best suits your company.

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