5 steps to ERP implementation

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project is when you integrate all your company’s core processes into a single system—finance, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, whatever else you need to run your business, back-end and front.

ERP can transform your company. When it’s done right, a new ERP system will deliver savings, service improvements, better compliance, and provide a sound platform for digital expansion and future growth.

But ERP projects are large and expensive undertakings. They are a major exercise for the entire organization and will consume the attention of all key staff and leaders for months. So before you start your ERP journey, have a look at our 5 steps to implementing an ERP.


You may also be interested in our blog post Do You Actually Need an ERP Project?


1. Have clear and specific business objectives.

Many ERP projects derail because the company never worked out the key priorities. When the inevitable glitches arrive, they don’t know where to compromise. So, your very first step must be an honest boardroom discussion about business objectives.

What are the outcomes that you’re looking for? Some examples:

• Redeploy four FTEs by avoiding any rekeying between the ERP and website
• Eliminate orders from customers on credit stop by eliminating the lag between finance and order processing
• Integrate with a new customer’s ordering systems within about two weeks of contract signing

Of course, your own needs will likely differ. Just notice that the objectives above are (a) measurable and (b) can be readily assigned a monetary value.
An ERP project typically has twenty or more such key objectives, and it’s crucial that the board have consensus on each of them. Because then there will be far less room for argument when the road gets bumpy. And later you’ll be able to point back to your requirements document and show that it was all there in black and white from the start, avoiding disputes internally and with suppliers.

2. Assign clear ownership of the project.

Too often ERP projects are run by a gaggle of people with vague roles. Instead, the CEO must absolutely appoint someone with the necessary technical know-how, business experience, people skills, and leadership qualities to run a complex project. (We would, of course, suggest one of our fractional IT leaders join your team.)

The CEO and this leader must then be clear on who is accountable for which aspects of the project. These people must have the space to do their jobs—avoid interrupting them with day-to-day issues so they can genuinely focus on the ERP project.

This can be uncomfortable for mid-market companies with ingrained ways of working. But a combination of flexibility and accountability is critical to success—plus you can see it as opportunity to develop people for the long-term.

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Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT directors, CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with SME and mid-market organisations, and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.