Rick Cook writes about computers and ERP from time to time on Toolbox.com. Recently he posted some comments about “ERP Implementation Errors for SMEs” that we thought worth sharing.
Cook notes that small businesses are different from large ones in that they often lack the experience, expertise and resources necessary for a good ERP implementation. As a result, they often make mistakes. At the same time, notes Cook, in some areas, big and small companies are the same, in that some activities require just as much work from the small firm as from the large. Following are a few of his comments…
Skimping on Selection: “It is important to take the time and effort to get the ERP package that most closely meets your needs. This isn’t significantly less effort for a small company than a big one.”
Not Allowing Enough Time: “One of the other things that doesn’t scale well for small companies is the amount of time it takes to implement the ERP software.”
Size of the Team: This is determined more by complexity than company size, but you must ensure you “have all the bases covered” when putting together your team.
Shorting on Testing: Here we’ll quote Mr. Cook verbatim: “While the amount of time you need to adequately test an ERP system will vary somewhat by the size of the company, the basic process doesn’t vary that much. It depends much more on the complexity of the installation than the size of the project. Make sure you allocate enough time to the test phase to run down the bugs and other problems and correct them. There’s a temptation in a company of any size to underestimate the time needed for testing, but if you skimp on this phase, you simply add to the time you spend debugging after you go live.”
Allocating Resources: “ERP is expensive to implement and that’s true of any size project.” The point is, it’s important to get a fair estimate, and to budget appropriately, without skimping on training and ensuring that users have fully thought through the processes, and their roles within them.
And lastly, one we see too frequently…
Treating the Implementation as an IT Project: “Because ERP is built around technology there is a tendency at many companies to view it as an IT project and expect the IT department to lead the way. This is a mistake in any size company, but it tends to be especially important in small companies because they don’t have IT departments that can take the strain. ERP is a company wide effort and it needs to be led by general management.”
Cook’s words are worth taking seriously, as we’ve seen it too. Do it right, and budget your dollars and time accordingly. Partner with your provider, and if you don’t feel they’re a good partner fit, have the tough conversation with them, or find a new provider.