Change the way you think
A lot of focus is put on how to evaluate, select, and implement ERP. But once the implementation is over, how do you keep things running as smoothly as possible?
An ERP implementation is a high risk, potentially disruptive project that takes up time and resources for a typical manufacturing company. It can be difficult for employees because many are asked to take on additional ERP project responsibilities, along with the current roles they fill to run the business on a day-to-day basis. A mentality develops that as soon as you go live on the new system, the project is OVER and everything can go back to normal. In fact, the opposite is true—the project is just BEGINNING.
Once your new ERP is live, you will experience immediate benefits if it has been implemented correctly. But there is still a fair amount of muscle memory to get accustomed to. New tools like ERP require new procedures and those take time to adopt.
Make sure you have expertise “in the room”
Once you are in the post-ERP implementation phase, you will inevitably encounter issues you never predicted. This is normal; it is impossible for a team to think of every possible scenario when designing and testing a new ERP. The mistake some companies make is disengaging with the company that helped them implement the system once it’s live. While being self-sufficient is a good long-term goal, it is typically not realistic for the first six months after go-live. Make sure you continue to get input from resources who are more knowledgeable and experienced than your team—it is well worth it to avoid ERP post-implementation issues!
Make a continuous improvement punch list and start executing on it
In every implementation, little things come up that would be helpful, cool, nice to have, etc. These typically get tossed to the side during implementation, but companies that are thinking ahead will capture those items as they arise. This becomes a fantastic list of continuous improvement projects that you can execute to get even more out of your ERP system. You have invested in a platform to run the business, and if you have done your homework, you also have a solution in place that will allow you to “grow into” it. These items typically do not involve large investment in software—you already have the functionality in your ERP, so it’s simply a matter of turning it on to integrate these improvements!
Document how things work … you’ll be glad you did
I see lots of companies suffer greatly from turnover, attrition, and placing too much trust in one person, as it relates to knowledge of processes and how the ERP supports those processes. This is because those companies did not place strategic importance on documenting their business process procedures, and how to execute the supporting transactions in the ERP. When someone walks out the door, all of the knowledge between that person’s ears walks out, too. Or, when a new hire comes on board, that new hire “sits with” someone to learn all the processes and that constitutes their new employee training.
If your company invested in ERP, then you should invest in creating documentation of how that ERP supports your business—period. Having documentation in place makes onboarding and cross-training easier, and dramatically reduces your risk when critical resources move on. A lot of companies avoid it because of the sheer size of the project, but there are tools available these days that make it VERY easy to create documentation by simply running the transactions in the ERP and letting the tool create the content for you!
Are you getting the most out of your ERP, post-implementation? Or, are you considering investing in ERP? Either way, take a look at the Visual South website; we have lots of information to help. If you’re searching for an ERP solution, I suggest downloading our ebook, How to Select ERP and Not Regret It.
Or, if you’d prefer to have a common-sense conversation with someone who is not a salesperson, click here to schedule a free consultation with our president, Jack Shannon.