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Preparing for your Cloud ERP software implementation

Getting ready to implement cloud ERP software? Here are some things to keep in mind.
How to choose the right Cloud ERP solution for your business

Preparing Your Organizational Strategy for ERP Implementation

If you’re preparing for a Cloud ERP software implementation, you know the process requires time, money, effort, and resources. Implementing your new cloud ERP software doesn’t begin with selecting the ERP system. It begins with realizing that your segmented, aging, legacy system isn’t keeping up with the requirements of today’s digital economy.

That knowledge turns into action, starting with research into why a cloud-based ERP solution would be the right fit for you, how it would replace or interact with the systems you already have in place, how much it would cost, and what the potential return on investment (ROI) would be. It’s also important to determine what benefits every person in your business could expect because you would all be affected by this change.

For an ERP implementation to get off the ground, you need approval from the leadership and IT teams and support from the team members who will be using the new cloud ERP software. For employees, the disruption to their daily activities and workflows must be mitigated by the ERP system’s expected ease of use, flexibility, and increased efficiency. So, communicate the plan to your employees before it happens, giving them time to digest the situation and weigh in on what functionalities and capabilities they would like the cloud ERP software to possess.

Identifying Key Stakeholders

Once you have leadership and organizational buy-in (and have listened to their advice), evaluate your ERP options and make your selection. Now, it’s time to prepare for cloud ERP implementation. But you can’t do it alone. It’s a complex process that requires team effort. Thankfully, you’ve already laid the groundwork with open communication and can anticipate filling the key stakeholder positions easily with people ready to tackle the project.

Key stakeholder positions include an Executive Sponsor (or the “Champion”), a Project Leader, a Technical Lead, and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Each team member has a specific role to play.

The Executive Sponsor, or Champion, is your go-to person for the ERP implementation. He or she is an executive in the company, who has been part of the decision-making from the beginning. When problems or hiccups arise, the Executive Sponsor is responsible for providing a solution. He or she communicates, organizes, and makes plans throughout the process, while encouraging the rest of the team to keep moving forward. This person works closely with the Project Leader.

The Project Leader (or Project Manager) is at the very center of a cloud ERP software implementation. He or she:

  • Coordinates resources.
  • Creates the project plan.
  • Holds meetings.
  • Assesses progress.
  • Identifies problems.

The Project Leader communicates updates to the leadership team, the Executive Sponsor, and the whole organization.

The Technical Lead documents the required customizations, reports, and integrations. This includes supporting data migration and security activities.

Finally, SMEs take on the financial requirements. Their specialized skills help define user access roles, rights, and privileges; determine segregation of duties; and/or establish audit requirements. If you do not have people who can fill these roles, you can hire an outside contractor (business process outsourcing [BPO]).

As key stakeholders, the people you place in these positions hold the success of your ERP implementation in their hands. When you prepare for your ERP implementation, make sure you already have in mind people who can successfully accomplish these goals, and, if you don’t, make sure you find them before you begin your journey.

Tim Patton
"I am still amazed to think that I can be sitting in a Starbucks drinking a coffee while looking at our ERP solution, but that is the flexibility and usability that all companies should expect nowadays."
Tim Patton, ICT Director
SAM

What to Watch Out For

Having done your homework, convinced the leadership and IT teams to underwrite it, communicated the plans to the entire organization, garnered the necessary support, used feedback from the whole organization to choose the right cloud ERP software, and established a cross-functional project team, you’re well on your way to a successful ERP implementation.

But there are still some pitfalls you need to watch out for.

  1. Time: No matter how well you plan and coordinate, your ERP implementation can take longer than you think. Set up a timeline that includes a buffer zone. There are many moving pieces and a lot of people involved, and, inevitably, questions and challenges will arise. You will need to be prepared to continue your daily operations while finding answers. Planning for pitfalls from the start—even if it takes longer—will benefit you in the long run.
  2. Pushback: No matter how well you communicate the benefits of a new system, some people will prefer sticking with the tried and true. Keep employees updated on how the implementation is going, remind them of the pain points that will be resolved and the time that will be saved, and ask for their input throughout the process.
  3. Data migration: Migrating your data from one system (or various systems) to another is not easy. It’s a complicated step that can throw an ERP implementation for a loop. You must take the time (reference Point 1) to set up a clear, well-defined data migration plan. It should begin with updating customer contact information, removing incorrect/redundant data, and transferring the data, and it should end with testing the new system.
  4. Wrong implementation partner: This is a big one. If you choose an ERP implementation partner who does not know the cloud ERP solution or your industry inside and out, then your implementation may be doomed to fail. This may sound harsh, but you need an expert ERP partner who can advise you at every step. It’s critical that you choose an ERP solution that, not only checks off all your wants and needs, but also provides a reliable partner to help with the heavy lifting during and after the implementation.

Watching out for these dangers will go a long way towards making your ERP implementation a success.

Measuring Your Implementation’s Success

To evaluate the success of your implementation, you’ll need to establish key performance indicators (KPIs). According to Technopedia, KPIs are “measurements used to identify and quantify business performance.” They must be clear, measurable, and impactful.

When you prepare for your ERP implementation, you’ll want to establish your metrics from the outset. Are you hoping to lower operating costs, improve productivity, reduce inventory levels, fix errors, centralize data in a single source of truth, or make faster decisions? If the answer is some of the above, all of the above, or all of the above plus additional KPIs, then outline these points for your project team and the organization. Then, you—and they—will be able to gauge the implementation’s success based on real metrics.

How Acumatica Can Help

In a recent Acumatica-commissioned study by Forrester, four companies that adopted Acumatica Cloud ERP saw a 15% improvement in gross margins, a 15% increase in sales volume, and a 45% increase in employee productivity. Forrester put together a composite organization based on these companies and found that it would experience an ROI of 66% and have an investment payback period of 16 months.

As a cloud-based, flexible, and mobile ERP solution committed to transforming businesses, Acumatica can help your company reach next-level success. We provide integrated business applications, such as CRM, Financials, Field Service, Project Accounting, Service Management, and Inventory Management. We also offer industry-specific solutions, including Construction, Manufacturing, Distribution, and Retail-Commerce. Users can access their business information remotely, 24/7, via any web-enabled device.

Our Value Added Resellers (VARs) have been trained through our award-winning Acumatica Partner Program. This means they’re certified experts in our products/services and can be trusted to walk you through the ERP implementation journey.

Contact our experts today. They’ll help you prepare for your ERP implementation success.

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