Step two: Procedure review
Have the project team conduct an extensive review of the features and capabilities of your new ERP software. The purpose of this review is twofold:
- For the project team to familiarize themselves with every aspect of the new ERP solution and identify proficiencies and skill gaps before the wider rollout. This experience will guide training.
- To verify which manual processes will be automated by the new system and ensure that necessary modifications are made prior to rollout so that automation proceeds smoothly.
Tip: Conduct interviews with key employees from each department to get firsthand insights into how current processes work together and how those processes can most effectively be automated.
Step three: Data preparation
Define which of your existing data will need to be converted to the new system, and then analyze it to weed out useless or outdated information. If possible, locate source documents to verify data accuracy and completeness. A little housekeeping at this stage goes a long way because an ERP system is only as useful as its data. If your data is clogged with inaccurate information, the value provided by your new ERP will be negatively impacted.
Once data has been checked and cleaned, create spreadsheets to collect and segment useful data into logical tables to streamline conversion to the new system.
Tip: Set realistic expectations for the process with everyone from executive leadership to first-line employees, and keep communication open about how it’s going. This will help alleviate anxieties about the change to tools and processes and promote adoption of the new software post-launch.
Step four: Testing and training
Have the project team practice with a test database populated with a full week of real transaction data to validate system output, test accuracy, and ensure that integrations and interfaces work properly. In addition to testing the new system, this hands-on experience with the new software can be used to help the project team create cheat sheets and process documentation for company-wide training.
The ideal training methodology varies by workforce. Factors such as how much time your employees can devote to training and where they’re located will guide you as to whether in-person training, e-learning, or a combination of both will work best.
Regardless of which training method you choose, use these suggestions to make the process more effective for everyone involved:
- Train tech-savvy staff members as ERP software superusers, so that they can help with low-level user issues and free your IT department to address larger issues.
- Gamify parts of the training process to boost engagement and encourage friendly competition amongst colleagues.
- Offer incentives to complete training on time. A combination of small perks, such as free food or an extra hour for lunch, and large perks, such as cash bonuses or extra days off, can be an effective way to motivate employees and make the process fun.
Tip: Turn cheat sheets and process documentation into standard operating procedures that can be accessed by the entire organization and updated regularly.
Step five: Rollout and evaluation
Put together a go-live checklist for the days and weeks following implementation to make sure the following necessities are ready to go:
- System testing post-go-live
- Schedule and budget for staff overtime or temporary staff
- Communication protocols for system downtime
- Network speed and reliability checks
- Data backup processes
The day of rollout, plan on a lot of questions and be prepared for some hiccups. Make sure your project team is prepared to lead their departments through the process, and that your IT team is ready to make changes and adjustments as needed. ERP implementation is a lot of work, but the benefits to productivity and profitability are well worth it.
After rollout, evaluate your ERP solution’s output against the goals and objectives your project team set during the planning stage. Is your new system accomplishing those goals? Is it successfully automating manual processes the way it should? If not, additional alterations and refinements are needed.
Tip: Perform periodic audits to compare ERP solution output to benchmarks to determine whether the solution is adding value.