The organization and structuring of information will continue to rise in importance as firms leverage more data to guide operations, generate insights, and inform decision-making. Thus, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is an important tool for businesses competing in the information age. Organizations looking to optimize the utilities of their ERP systems will find value in considering the following five ways to ensure success.
Leverage organizational support and involvement
Studies show there is evidence of organizational support contributing to an ERP’s perceived usefulness and ease of use, which positively impacts employee behavior regarding intentions to use the system. When businesses provide their employees with transitional support during implementation, their employees are more likely to accept the technology. It’s important for executive management to initiate and disseminate support, leadership, and direction for the deployment of an ERP system, and to weave it with the guidance and input of various subject matter experts (SMEs). Involving key decision-makers will facilitate communication among stakeholders, who can then provide useful insights into how the technology can improve processes.
Assess business process needs
ERP system implementation initiatives can leverage the involvement of SMEs for ground-level insight into the needs of the business. Their involvement helps detail the information architecture and functionality required by their business unit. SMEs can also outline the data created by their unit, which can subsequently also feed into the ERP system for use by other departments. These specifications provide forward-looking insights into pain points to be alleviated by specific ERP modules and the types of data they will house.
With the help of SMEs and other parties, firms can adequately break down business processes. Robust examination on this front enables a more complete gap analysis to gauge degrees and sources of separation between current aspects of the business and their projections with a successful ERP system. This analysis is best conducted using big data, along with the qualitative accounts and internal case studies.
A major value proposition of ERP system implementation comes with its ability to aggregate information captured from different parts of the business. Interoperability between your ERP and other information software systems presents an important feature for overall success. To this end, cloud ERP systems may leverage their own compatible apps or benefit from seamless integration with other software. In the event a specific application or source of information does not integrate with your ERP by default, businesses should evaluate the ROI potential of building a customized data flow between the systems.
Communicate updates and institute training plans
The upper-level individuals supporting ERP initiatives will be privy to the different facets of the overall project and must disseminate updates to other decision makers and share that information with all stakeholders. It’s important to relay progress so users can prepare for new workflows or dataflows as well as any learning or setup demands required on their part. Communicating updates will also provide users notice on releases so they can start to use functionalities as soon as they’re available.
As modules, features, or new dataflows roll out, it’s useful to determine what facets require employee training and how best to conduct it. Assessing this on a business unit and role basis will inform how to design materials or courses for maximum effect. Receiving user feedback will help you understand levels of familiarity and comfort with new modules and functionalities, informing further iterations to training materials.
Receive feedback and iterate
Putting in place mechanisms for users to provide feedback and suggestions will go a long way toward successful ERP system deployment. Surveys, open-question forums, in-person sessions, or simple communications with implementation teams serve as feedback mediums and learning opportunities. They offer an understanding into users’ levels of proficiency with modules and features, as well as what aspects may necessitate additional employee training.
Feedback mechanisms will also allow for suggestions of features and additional use cases. This helps constantly assess the ERP system’s effectiveness and identify process gaps that may be addressed by the technology. Such insights inform iterative adjustments to the ERP system as it continues to streamline processes and optimize your firm’s operations.