Today’s blog features a Q&A session with Tensoft’s ERP implementation expert.
1. What factors typically drive the decision to implement to a new accounting or ERP solution?
Several factors can be involved at any one company. I’d say that the need to support growth and change tops the “short list’ of reasons that companies decide to implement a new ERP system. Other reasons limitations in their current applications, such as reporting capabilities and management tools that are outdated, or that the company has outgrown. For example, an early-stage company may have departmental solutions that work for a few individuals at the start, but not for the whole company, as they grow. In that situation, a new ERP implementation provides an opportunity to reduce costs, add functionality, and increase visibility, both within and across departments.
2. For those companies that are looking for a new ERP application, how should they begin to narrow down their list?
I’d certainly recommend that they consider the viability of the ERP vendor. This doesn’t necessarily mean limiting your options to the biggest players. You just don’t want to invest in a system that’s unlikely to be around for long. I’d also recommend looking for flexibility, so that the system can both scale and change with your company. Your ERP solution should meet your current needs well, and should also be capable of supporting growth and operational and process changes.
The other thing to consider is how much of the base functionality within the ERP meets your current business needs. No one system will be a perfect fit for all your needs, but systems do have strengths and weaknesses. Pick one where the strengths are in line with a larger percentage of your basic needs. Also, while user experience and navigation are important, it should not be the basis for 100% of the decision, it should be weighted appropriately with other factors such as cost and core functionality.
3. How long does an ERP implementation typically take?
Depending on the complexity of your company’s needs, your team’s ability to support the implementation, and the size and efficiency of the ERP vendor’s implementation team, mid-market applications typically take 90 days to six months to go live. At Tensoft, we’ve had a few customers go live in as little as 30 days, but that does require exceptional preparation and resources when you’re talking about the kind of business complexities that our technology customers face.
4. What are some of the ways that a company can prepare for an ERP implementation?
First on the list is to figure out who will need to support the implementation internally and how to free up their time to do that. Companies often underestimate the additional work an implementation project requires. If a company is already resource-constrained, we’ve sometime recommended that they bring in temporary workers to support the daily operational responsibilities of the project team members, to free up time for implementation tasks. This allows team members to focus on the project, and to think in terms of process changes, instead of just getting data loaded and continuing to do things in the same old ways.
5. What other guidance or advice can you offer to companies that are about to implement a new ERP system?
Above all, I’d recommend that they engage an experienced implementation vendor, preferably one that specializes in working with companies just like theirs, so that they don’t end up paying the ERP vendor to learn about their business during the implementation. And, I’d recommend that they view the relationship as a partnership, rather than something more arm’s length. After all, mutual trust is an important element of any good business relationship, and one that’s essential to any sort of cooperative effort. Cultivate that, and you’ll help ensure a more successful end result.
NOTE FROM THE TENSOFT TECH COMPANY OBSERVER EDITOR: Whether you need ERP implementation services, support, training, other professional services or want to move to the cloud, Tensoft can help. Tensoft consultants are experienced professionals with extensive training, project planning expertise, and proven success working with a wide range of customers.
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