How to create an ERP system strategy

Follow these steps for implementation success

Make no mistake about it, deploying a new ERP solution within your organisation is a major project for any type of organisation. Stripping out disparate solutions and implementing a shiny, all-in-one application is akin to open heart surgery for your business. It’s something you want to get right to ensure the health of your organisation for years to come. So what is the best way to create an ERP system strategy?

Firstly, you’ll want to address the challenges that you have within your organisation and how your chosen solution will overcome these. Typically, companies will begin their search for a new system when they have tried all other avenues to overcome business challenges. The planning stage is critical as you don’t want to find issues within your business that your new system doesn’t have the functionality to address. 

create ERP system strategy

During your planning stages, make sure to speak to all of your key stakeholders from across your business. Speak to your financial director about their challenges managing cash flow. Talk to your MD or CEO about the types of reports they’d like to analyse or your production manager on the bottle necks that always led to delays to customer orders. Once you’ve mapped everything out, then you can start researching solutions and comparing functionality to decide what will be the best fit for your organisation – both now and in the future.

The average lifespan for an ERP solution is usually around ten years – if it’s not developed and updated regularly. SAP usually releases a new major version of SAP Business One every two years. Between that, there are also various patch releases in line with new innovations and regulations. But if you’re currently running an industry-specific or a legacy system, then chances are you aren’t GDPR compliant and won’t meet the new Making Tax Digital regulations. It’s time to make the switch before your software leads to an unnecessary financial penalty for your SME. When you are researching a new solution, it’s important to ask questions about its product road map to ensure you future-proof your company. 

How to choose the perfect ERP solution

When you do a search on Google for an ‘ERP solution’ do you know how many results there are? Over 100 million. This can be overwhelming and you’ll never be in a position to read everything online. It’s always a good idea to check out an independent website first or to research solutions that other companies within your industry use.

Once you’ve identified a couple of solutions that might work for you, there are hundreds of videos or online demos you can check out. YouTube is a great resource for browsing potential solutions and getting a feel for how processes work. Buy-in across your company is often determined by usability. If your solution is too complex, then users keep it at arm’s length.

Another thing to do before you decide on your next solution is to read some customer testimonials. Download case studies and see how solutions work in real life. You can check out what our customers have to say about SAP Business One here.

When you’ve identified a solution that could work for your business, next you’ll want to speak to deployment partners… 

How to select an ERP implementation partner

There are lots of important decisions you’ll need to make when you to decide to deploy a new business management system. Some are more important than others. But the most important one – and the one you can’t afford to get wrong – is who you select as your implementation partner. There’s a few things that you should consider when picking a partner to work alongside your business.

Culture is key. You need to find an organisation that has the ideologies as your own. If you can find somebody who is on the same page as you it will make a massive difference. You’ll be working closely with your chosen partner through the different sales, implementation and go-live stages. Then, they will be your first port of call if you ever need any support. Always ask yourself if you can see your company working with your selected partner for the foreseeable future. If the answer is ‘no’, then they are not right for your business.

You need to feel like you can trust your partner and that they’ll honour what they promised during the sales cycle. Always do your own research into an organisation. Take a look at their website and their corporate social media profiles. See how many people are part of their project delivery and consultancy teams. Do they have the right skills to help you deliver your project? If something doesn’t feel right, then it often isn’t. 

For many growing businesses, they will have never implemented a true ERP system before. So they will be relying on their chosen partner to lead them along the right path. That’s why it’s key to work with somebody who has the right experience and skills to deploy your chosen system. Make sure the company you chose to partner with has extensive knowledge of how both your business works and the industry you work within.

Once your system is implemented and you’ve gone live it’ll be the support team of the chosen partner who will be there to help out with any issues. You’ll want to maximise your investment in your ERP solution and avoid any periods of downtime or where your system isn’t running at full speed. Always ask potential vendors about how long it takes them to respond to enquiries and close support calls. It’s also worth finding out what their customer retention rates are like. You can make your own decision on what their customers think about the level of service provided by a company by how many decide to renew their agreements.

Work with an experienced ERP vendor

For many growing businesses, they will have never implemented a true ERP system before. So they will be relying on their chosen partner to lead them along the right path. That’s why it’s key to work with somebody who has the right experience and skills to deploy your chosen system. Make sure the company you chose to partner with has extensive knowledge of how both your business works and the industry you work within.

Once your system is implemented and you’ve gone live it’ll be the support team of the chosen partner who will be there to help out with any issues. You’ll want to maximise your investment in your ERP solution and avoid any periods of downtime or where your system isn’t running at full speed. Always ask potential vendors about how long it takes them to respond to enquiries and close support calls. It’s also worth finding out what their customer retention rates are like. You can make your own decision on what their customers think about the level of service provided by a company by how many decide to renew their agreements.

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ERP Requirements Checklist

ERP Requirements Checklist

Identify the features you'd like in your next system

Finally, ask a potential partner if you can speak with some of their customers. The majority of companies now include customer testimonials on their websites – or will be able to provide a reference customer from the industry you work within. Alarm bells should start ringing if neither of these are available.

How to avoid ERP project failure

One of the biggest concerns SMEs have when the start a new project is how it’ll finish. Will the solution tick all the boxes when it’s live? Will the project overrun or will it cost more than was budgeted for? Thankfully, if you’ve selected an experienced vendor, you’ll be worrying about nothing.

However, it is important to remember that ERP implementations are rarely straight forward or easy to complete. When you’re deploying an end-to-end solution, such as SAP Business One or SAP Business ByDesign, there are lots of cogs in the wheel that all have to align to get the solution firing on all cylinders. But don’t let that put you off. The reward will be a powerful business management solution that will help your business innovate, grow and boost profits.

Any company who has implemented a new solution will tell you to expect some bumps in the road. And that’s fine. Certain problems when implementing a system don’t always result in project failure.

Usually, projects only fail when there’s conflict. Either internally when there’s not complete buy-in from senior leaders or when there’s conflict with your chosen partner. If the problem is internal, then this is where things get tricky. If, for example, a new CEO or Financial Director comes on board halfway through the project, they may have ideas of their own that may not include your preferred solution or partner.

But if you’ve chosen to work with an experienced partner who has the right team working with you they will have the knowledge of having been there and got the t-shirt – and that will get you over the line.

When planning your own ERP system strategy it’s important to remember that each project is different. There are no set timelines or schedules for these types of deployments. You’ll obviously have a go-live date set with your partner when you’d like everything up and running. But just because one company went live in x-amount of weeks, it doesn’t always mean that it’ll be that way for your business.

When organisations are initially considering a new solution it’s either because the challenges they are facing with their existing systems are continuing to grow, or because they have a compelling event. If it’s the latter, your partner should be aware of this from the outset. Projects which are rushed through, often result in lots of issues when systems are live. 

Your next steps

Once you’ve spoken to the key stakeholders across your organisation, have selected a solution that you feel is a perfect match for your business and secured a budget for your project, what is next? Reach out to one of our ERP experts and we’ll work together to plan the next stages of your project. Our solution architects will give your team a demonstration to showcase how our software can help you overcome your biggest challenges and automate key process. We’ve got consultants with decades of experience to deploy your chosen solution and help you go-live with the support of our skilled projects team. Then, when you’re live and enjoying the benefits of a fully integrated business management system for Seidor, our support and customer success team are always on hand to help you maximise your ERP investment. Get in touch with us today using the buttons below…   

Create the perfect ERP strategy with Seidor

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