ERP implemented what now?
The implementation is complete, the system has gone live, there is a calm and business life seemingly settles down. Here are some of best practices to consider after system has gone live to maximise on the return of the financial investment.
Communication – Retain Project Management Structure The implementation team have managed the implementation tasks, project issues and risks. It is important to retain the project management structure including the project management conference calls until and after the first financial close where the business entity’s financial reporting has been successfully completed. Retaining the project management structure and project team is important as risks and issues not identified during the implementation can be addressed successfully. Risks need to be continually monitored and reported back to senior management. Constant communication will ensure the company understands what is occurring with the ERP implementation after go-live. A well-informed company will function more efficiently if there is an understanding as to what is occurring in the business and can assist with any problem resolution if required.
Post-implementation Support Post-implementation is the stabilisation phase of the project where aspects of the project might not have been completed during the implementation period and can be addressed if at all necessary. This could be anything from business process refinement, documentation or reporting. It is important that an adequate level of support is still available from the project team to assist with adapting to the new processes introduced to the company. A minimum of one full month of post-implementation support using a formal project structure with the existing project resources to adequately evaluate the acceptance of the new ERP solution and document any problems that need to be addressed.
Organisation Alignment and Change Management Project implementation planning often neglects the impact to people in the company which includes business processes and technology. Understand the user community in the business and the changes they experience using the newly implemented ERP system. This is important to go live success and effective ongoing use of the ERP solution. By incorporating these best practices into the implementation project, you can succeed in making the most of the new investment. Involve the HR team, or change management consultants, to help prepare the team for the changes they will experience.
Measurement of Business Benefits As part of the project initiation phase of the project, most companies prepare a business case for an ERP project. It is important after the successful launch of your ERP solution to ensure that the original business cases are achieved. A performance measurement framework should be put in place to document expected benefits as part of the post implementation review process. Major business processes should be measured using key performance indicators to assist the company in focusing its activities around key value drivers.
Prepare for Change Requests One of the biggest challenges moving forward is most likely to be requests to revisit decisions that were made during the implementation process. This could be processes that were broken from one step in the legacy system to two steps in the new system. For instance, one transaction to request a purchase order and another transaction to approve a purchase order, when in legacy, someone could just order something. This will often result in numerous requests for automation. A change request structure must be put in place to tightly control requests to change the system. The change request structure should include business benefits. You do not want to burden your teams who are probably working at full capacity with any avoidable non value added work. This is also very important to ensure that all system changes are carefully documented as in the non to distant future decisions as to whether to upgrade the system to bring in new functionality will be considered. Without any documentation it will be difficult, and costly to establish what the net impact will be to upgrade the system, especially if the system has been heavily modified.
Continuous Improvement Going forward with ERP is a continual process of learning how to do more and more with its capability. It is professionally recognised, that takes three to five years before you really understand how to use the system successfully and make full use of the ERP system and start seeing the financial benefits. This could include for example Composite Application Framework, Cafe One, or EnterpriseOne Orchestrator. For any company to grow profitably, it is important to focus on continuous improvement activities. Never stop investigating how to extract more functionality out of the ERP system to maximise the return of the financial investment.