Q: What motivates companies to implement to a new ERP system?
Murray: There are several common reasons that drive companies to implement a new ERP system. The primary reason is to support growth and increased operations. Another motivator can be that their current applications have limited reporting capabilities and management tools. Some early-stage companies are running partially implemented systems, or some later-stage companies are burdened with legacy systems that have been heavily customized. In these cases, there is the opportunity to reduce costs and increase functionality by implementing a core ERP application with the right best-of-breed solution(s) to meet their specific industry needs.
Q: What should companies look for in a new ERP application?
Murray: Companies should select a system produced by a reputable and stable developer. This will ensure the system they invest in today will be supported five, ten and fifteen years into the future. The application should be scalable. The ERP system should be such that it meets current needs today and can also support planned growth and operations.
Today, a lot of core ERP functionality has been around for so long that it’s really a waste of time to agonize about specific features in the GL, AR or AR modules, for example. Spend time instead on evaluating functionality that provides the highest value, which is often that functionality that’s most difficult to find a solution for. You can tell if you need this kind of functionality – it’s the kind where you’re having to process data via spreadsheets, outside of your system of record.
Q: How long does the process take?
Murray: Mid-market applications can take anywhere from 45 days to six months to implement, depending on the complexity required. Part of the strength of the postmodern ERP approach is that implementing core ERP plus best-of-breed is often much more efficient.
Q: What can companies do to prepare for the implementation?
Murray: Companies should prepare in advance for the additional work an implementation project requires. One thing I have seen successful companies do in advance of an implementation project is to hire temporary workers – not to offload the implementation tasks – but to support the daily operational responsibilities of the project team members. This enables team members to focus on the tasks required for a successful implementation. Companies can also prepare by getting their internal resources aligned with the corporate goals and reasons for needing a new ERP or upgrading the existing ERP.
Q: Can you give any other guidance to companies that are about to implement a new ERP system?
Murray: My advice to companies considering an ERP implementation is to engage an experienced consulting firm, and one whose approach matches your own. If you prefer the postmodern ERP approach (which is what Gartner is recommending to all of their clients), look for someone with that kind of experience. Other than that, partner with a company you trust and establish strong relationships with the consultants.
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