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Posts Tagged ‘ERP Checklist’

erp checklistWe often like to share the opinions of others when it comes to ERP system selection and implementation.  And so, while no simple “checklist” will take the place of an intensive due diligence when selecting or upgrading a company’s ERP system, we thought the following offering from the folks at Rand Group (an ERP seller that serves the Southwest out of Texas) offered a sensible starting point.

First, take note of a sidebar they wrote, which really sums up the importance of making the distinction between “Must Haves” versus “Want to Haves” and “Wish List” items:

Having any more than 3-7% of your requirements categorized as “must have” will eliminate all 500 commercially available business software solutions.”

That being said, Rand Group recommends you start internally:

“Define your organization’s corporate goals, objectives/ metrics, and strategic imperatives, followed by a review of business requirements and challenges that are preventing your organization from meeting its objectives.”

Then, work with your consultant or provider to create an appropriate, high-level ‘scope document’ that separates those “Must Haves” and that can provide the following information:

  • A prioritized list of each department’s critical needs and requirements, including a wish-list.
  • A description of how information flows and is shared between departments.
  • Current manual and automated data collection systems.
  • Organizational goals (e.g., improving customer service (with metrics), shipping all orders within 24 hours, etc.).
  • Transaction volume data (e.g., number of customers, orders, invoices and vendors).
  • Financial data and reports required by accounting, auditing and banking stakeholders.
  • Reports and analysis required for management and day-to-day operations.
  • Integration requirements with in-house systems and desktop applications.

Use the results, Rand Group recommends, to then analyze the offerings of interest to you, to determine comparative fit and capability, noting how well a chosen solution “addresses each of your prioritized business objectives and requirements.”

Their advice provides a great starting point for system selection.

 

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From the “Mid-Market ERP Solutions Checklist” from InsideERP’s Buyer’s Guide [available here], we reprise some of their key questions you should ask before buying an ERP system.  They include…

Do your organization’s business leaders support the ERP implementation project?  No, really, do they really support it, with dollars, time, patience and commitment?

Who are the people in your company that will be responsible for measuring the business benefits relevant to their department’s ERP modules?  Employees within the department, and outside of IT, need to own the success of their ERP deployment.

Who will be the ERP project manager?  One person, inside or outside, should be in charge of managing the process to select an ERP solution, coordinating the demos and the needs analysis and the user meetings with leaders of each department.  But ultimately, this part of the process cannot be outsourced.  The impetus for change and the change agent manager must come from within.

What are the specific business problems you are trying to solve with ERP?  Get specific with your list of wish-list items.  But don’t think you can accomplish them all in one pass.  Instead, prioritize, then focus on the most important items.

What are the goals and metric you will use to measure the business benefits of your organization’s new ERP solution?  Use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as inventory accuracy or turns, departmental or process cost reductions, specific process improvements, shortening of lead times, month-end closing improvements, and so on.

What best practices do you need to adopt with your ERP implementation?  This is the perfect time to flowchart processes, map improvements, and begin to teach people the value and benefits of new, streamlined processes.

Which modules will you start with?  Quite often, financials are a great place to start.  They’re manageable and discrete.  You can start where your old system leaves off.  They are defined by processes, principles and GAAP.  But if your need is for, say, rapid improvement in MRP because inventory is a mess, you purchase parts months before you need them, purchase orders have become a monster to create and your customers are demanding shortened production lead times… then you may need to start in a whole other area, and back your way into financials later.  Your consultant can help you with matters like these.

Which users will need to be trained?  And will you train them (a la ‘train the trainer’) or will your implementer train everyone?  Hint: it’s a lot cheaper if you can train department heads, and let them be responsible for training their staffs – but it doesn’t always work for everyone.

Is the solution built with SOA capabilities?  SOA allows for agile and flexible IT environments, and improved web interoperability.  It will help you better connect systems and supply chains and automate manual business processes – but it has to be done right.  But after all, isn’t this exactly what you want your ERP to do?

These and other questions are what you talk to your consultant and provider about.  They are best answered well before you get into the system mechanics.  These questions can provide the starting point that will ensure that ultimately, the time and money you spend on deployment will be on the system that’s right for you.  There is no one right answer, no single system which alone will do this. 

In fact, there are many possible solutions.  In the end, while the software matters, the ability of your team and your consultants to come together to analyze, chart and solve your unique process problems are the elements that will most determine your ideal solution.

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