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Your ERP implementation plan

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.

It sounds fantastic, and it is, when it’s done right. But large systems projects are expensive exercises. And too often the results are disappointing and rarely meet their business objectives. And then you are stuck with them: ERP systems generally have a lifetime of seven years or more.

This ERP implementation plan provides some key pointers. It can be a primer if you’re about to start, or even a useful review when you’re halfway through.


You may also be interested in our blog post Do you actually need an ERP project?


1. Get the business objectives clear.

Has there been an open workshop at Board level to agree on the basic business objectives? The objective isn’t to implement a new MRP or ERP, it’s to deliver specific business outcomes… What are they? Has everyone agreed on them?

Be specific. For example, an objective may be to halve manufacturing cycle/throughput time; to remove four FTEs by avoiding any rekeying between the ERP and website; or to eliminate errors in labelling by automating label production.

Get them all in writing and get all the senior team to sign off. Yes, put ink on the paper!

2. Be clear about the key requirements.

In everyday business language, document the key things the systems must do, or must enable, or must achieve. This might be a list of forty or fifty statements, such as, ‘telesales handling staff can see accurate stock info and pricing on any products within thirty seconds.’

Often the emphasis is on how you go about things today, but the focus should be on outcomes, as there may be better ways to get there. And all department heads need to be involved, to agree, and, again, to sign off.

3. Get specific about who is involved and who is accountable.

First, pick the right people to own the project. Are there experts on the business who will need to be assigned to the project team? Will their positions need to be backfilled?

And don’t assume that every techie in your business understands ERP projects. Increasingly the line is blurred between shop-floor technology, automation, and information technology. The Ops team (who might have owned this project a decade ago) may no longer have the right skills or experience.

Second, everyone must be clear on their roles. Are you aiming to involve some of your own people in the details so they can become expert superusers of your new system? Who on the Board is accountable for delivery? This should include not only delivery of the technology, but all the business outcomes identified at the start.

4. Get clear on the cost-benefit model.

Although you don’t know the detailed costs yet, you can establish the cost-benefit model. This means understanding how this project will deliver hard benefits, so that when compromises are necessary, you can identify what’s worth keeping and what you can drop. The cost-benefit should be based on improvements in Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). For example, identify the target on-time, in-full (OTIF) and compare to current measurements of the same KPIs.

5. Select your products rationally.

There are hundreds of systems available: IFS, Nav, AX, SAP, SAGE, Epicor, Oracle, Syspro to name a few! This can be a minefield, but not if you’re clear-headed about it. Once you have all your requirements, you can use them to create selection criteria, a scoring system, and clear questions to ask.

You need to weigh up the advantages of integrated ERP with multiple specialised systems, which might offer better features but greater complexity. Make sure all the business stakeholders are part of the decision-making process so they all have a vested interest in success.

6. Select your partners rationally.

A partner will configure, customize, and support your systems. As you will need to have a long-term relationship, it is critical that there is trust and a good cultural fit. Take up references, and check everything! Ask around: are they experts in your sector? Are they financially secure? Have they got a stable team?

And start early, so that you have time to negotiate a good price and contract rather than having to cave in due to pressing deadlines.

To continue reading, download the article above.

Visit our ERP and Integration Issues Knowledge Centre, which includes all content related to this topic.

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.

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.

To continue reading, download the article above.

Visit our ERP and Integration Issues Knowledge Centre, which includes all content related to this topic.

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.

Do you actually need an ERP project?

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 be a launching pad for transformative growth. When it’s done right, customers are happier, employees are freed from menial tasks, and all the separate parts of your business have access to the same information in real-time. ERP becomes a launching-pad to transformative growth.

When ERP is done wrong, it gets very expensive, not to mention causing more of the stress and frustration you were hoping to squelch by implementing the project.

So before you start pouring precious time and resources into a complicated project, ask yourself if it’s even necessary. If any of the following issues keep popping up, it’s time to get started.

Your existing solution has serious support problems.

Are you having frequent disputes with your suppliers? Are existing products no longer supported? Multiple suppliers and support problems are a strong indication you need ERP.

You’re driven to distraction by rekeying, data issues, and workarounds.

Every business has its workarounds, yet yours have become a serious problem. You’re wasting money on staff who merely help you get through the day, rather than serve your customers.

Back-office systems are hindering your marketing plans.

You and your CMO have some great new ideas, but back-office solutions have become the barrier to progress.

To continue reading, download the article above.

Visit our ERP and Integration Issues Knowledge Centre, which includes all content related to this topic.

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.

How to Get Started with an ERP Project – Part II

This is the second in a two-part series on how to launch a successful Enterprise Planning Resource (ERP) project. For more information on ERP in plain English, check out our Knowledge Centre.

You can read Part I here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

3 Focus Points for Successful Systems Integration

Freeman Clarke co-founder Graeme Freeman explains the three areas you’ll need to focus on for a successful systems integration project and provides ideas for building on that success.

You may find other posts in our ERP and Integration Knowledge Centre interesting.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

ERP pearls of wisdom from our experts

This audio focuses on ERP pearls of wisdom from our experts.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

How to Get Started with an ERP Project – Part I

This is the first in a two-part series on how to launch a successful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project. For more information on ERP in plain English, check out our Knowledge Centre.

You can read Part II here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

3 common problems with systems integration

Integration challenges can be difficult to identify. In this video, Freeman Clarke Co-founder Graeme Freeman explains three of most common problems created by systems integration and how to get started on fixing them.

You may find other posts in our ERP and Integration Knowledge Centre interesting.

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

How to choose an ERP product and solution provider

This audio focuses on How to choose an ERP product and solution provider.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

Key Steps to Prevent ERP Projects Going Wrong

This audio focuses on Key steps to prevent ERP projects going wrong.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious 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.

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Graeme Freeman
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You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

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