How to Create a Successful ERP Implementation Plan

Communication is the Key

Implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a huge task, no matter the size of the company or the industry in which it will be utilized. Although thousands of ERP implementations are planned each year, unfortunately, not all are successful. What makes some plans work, while others fail? Communication.

“What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate.” — Captain (Cool Hand Luke)

The decision to implement an ERP system is generally born out of failures in communication. One existing system doesn’t talk to the other; two facilities aren’t linked in the way they need to be; the front office and shop floor operate more like two islands than two halves of a whole. This is especially true as companies grow. No matter what the specific issues are, though, the bottom line is that these factors all ultimately affect profitability and even employee job satisfaction.

ERP Implementation Planning and Internal Communication

As soon as it’s been established that an ERP system is necessary, most companies find that it’s helpful to assemble an ERP implementation team. This is another area where communication is paramount. The team should include cross-functional departmental representatives, all of whom will need to be comfortable discussing the issues with company leadership—within the ERP implementation team as well as with other affected employees to get an understanding of what changes are needed. 

Implementation Planning and the RFQ Process

Now that there is agreement within the company about what the ERP system needs to be able to do, the search for an ERP solutions provider begins. This means the submission of RFQ—yet another area of ERP planning where communication is of the utmost importance. While the internal team now has clarity around system needs, if those needs aren’t effectively communicated to potential ERP partners via the RFQ, the resulting quotes will never include the information needed for the team to make a solid decision. This means submitting an RFQ that is not only clear, but also provides as much detail as possible about the problems to be solved.

RFQ for Successful ERP Implementation

Successful ERP Implementation Planning and Provider Communication

Once an ERP solutions provider has been selected, the dialog that began with the RFQ develops into a much longer conversation between the ERP provider and the ERP implementation team. Because every organization is unique, a solid ERP provider will understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will work for every organization. ERP implementation is complex and multi-faceted; the best ERP providers, like MIE Solutions, know this and, from day one, work to ensure that they understand all of the various needs of their customers before moving forward with a plan.

They leave assumptions at the door, and instead, provide tailored suggestions for the specific issues that the client is trying to solve via the implementation of an ERP system. Establishing open and clear lines of communication from the start should be a central focus of planning. That same communication should then continue through the system’s rollout and remain in place post-implementation. This way, the team involved can address any and all needs or concerns regarding the new system.

Communication: The Cornerstone of a Successful ERP Implementation

Although specific action plans exist that seemingly guarantee ERP implementation success, the truth is, there is no single path that can ensure a system works. However, by keeping one critical factor in mind throughout the process—communication—every company, of any size, and in any industry, will give themselves the best possible shot at a successful ERP implementation.