ERP has come a long way since its inception and is now considered a critical tool in the management and smooth-running of a business. With the right choice of system, backed with the experience of an ERP consultant, a new ERP system can boost overall business growth. But what are the steps to successful implementation?

1. Identify the problems
Every system needs objectives against which ERP implementation can be reviewed as being a success or not and thus, you need to understand what problems the new ERP system will need to solve.
Think in terms of answering the questions: what should ERP be implemented for, with objectives and KPIs providing the important information as part of the review process. By taking this important first step, you also look at accommodating changes for your specific industry, as well as the scalability of ERP.

2. Scoping
When you have many, wide-ranging objectives, you need a scoping exercise to understand the whole system, which relates to getting the right team together as well as the experienced ERP consultant. It is important not to miss this step as an ERP implementation project takes longer than expected, with nearly three quarters running over budget.

3. Evaluate the options
Not all ERP systems deliver what you want, and so it makes sense to spend a chunk of times assessing and being objective in your evaluation of what is out there in terms of ERP and how it fits your organisation. Clients do customise their ERP system, but this can lead to the system being overly-complicated. An ERP consultant on your side, you are likely to have a more successful implementation stage.

4. Data migration
This is by far the most significant leap you will take in this process. With your decision made and everything in place, it is now time to manage a smooth transition to the new ERP system in relation to data migration.

5. Check and review
Halfway through the process, it is essential to understand if the ERP system is working as you need it too. All too often, this critical step is either missed out entirely or left until the ‘end’ of the process by which time, problems have become so ingrained that it feels like a whole new system is required.

6. Customisation
Designed after significant consultation, the ERP software should be specific to your industry and business, although for some businesses, there is no need for customisation. A new ERP system is a significant investment, and so you need to be confident the customisation is spot on for your business.

7. Change management
A new ERP system means a change from the usual activities that your staff and employees are used to carrying out with the old system. As part of the whole implementation process, you need to make sure everyone is trained in how to use it and why the new system is essential.

8. Technology and knowledge transfer
A small minority of ERP implementations fail. The reasons why vary from improper customisation to poorly trained personnel operating the system and feeding in the data. The key to success when it comes to transfer of data is training, essential knowledge transfer.

9. Project management
The majority of issues with implementing a new ERP system according to any ERP consultant will after the ‘go live’ button has been pressed. Thus project management of the project along with testing is vital before the whole system is switched on.

10.Ongoing support
Finally, just as important as getting the right ERP system, the right set of customisations, the right training and testing is the ongoing support offered once the final go-live decision has been made.
This way, any small system glitches remain just that – small glitches which can be easily and quickly rectified.