Traditionally, ERP implementations have been occasional, ‘Big Bang’ events where major changes are made to the systems. Typically, these involve painful disruptions in operations, which take months (if not years) to bounce back to normal. This, in turn, holds the company back from progressing at its normal velocity as it tries to find its feet back after the disruption.
Today is the age of Agile. Success-focused software engineering companies realized some years ago that it is far better to introduce new products and upgrades continuously, in bite-sized increments, rather than big chunks of new technology at one time. Taking a leaf out of software companies, ERP implementers are also recognizing the merits of continuous, incremental implementation of ERP in their organizations. They have identified the biggest stumbling blocks in ERP execution and figured out ways around them:
- Problem – Beginner’s Inertia: When a new ERP system is put into operation from scratch, so as to be configured for any purpose, it usually requires a lot of work and time to create the various screens, workflows, reports and customizations for the system to work optimally. In fact, sometimes the customizations may cause the system to break down during an upgrade and require a complete rewriting of the customization code. To avoid this, many companies put off upgrades for long durations, a move that restrains their growth.
Solution – Pre-built Templates: Smart ERP providers have figured the way out of this Catch 22 situation; they create industry-specific ‘templates’ based on proven successful ways of doing business in a particular sector. The prefabricated template approach can cut down on a lot of work related to setup and configuration, also serving as a comprehensive checklist for the implementation process.
Requirement – An Outstanding ERP Provider: However, for this approach to work, the ERP service provider should have extensive experience of implementation in that particular industry. With experience, it can then integrate the best practices, workflows and processes into the template. A veteran ERP provider with years of experience also recognizes that while customization is the key to ‘future-proofing’ a system, too much of it will be time-consuming and take it farther away from agile implementation. Hence, customizations are best carried out where really required (identified by the template), and do not have to be all in the beginning. Rather, it is best to install the core system first and customize later, incrementally.
As an excellent example, NetSuite’s SuiteSuccess program is the result of years of experience in implementing ERP systems successfully in different industries and domains, learning critical secrets about making it easy and least disruptive for their clients, on the way. NetSuite uses its domain knowledge to create industry-specific ‘blueprints’ for different businesses, and implements them in small, navigable steps.
Perhaps, most significantly, the NetSuite implementation team totally involves all the main stakeholders that will be affected by the system, in the process of implementation. From holding familiarization meetings to regular feedbacks and walkthroughs, SuiteSuccess ensures the template and the workflows in it work as intended for the users.
- Problem – Inefficient Data: A crucial step in the implementation process is to recognize and discard unusable existing data. Incomplete, incorrect and duplicate data needs to be cleansed and enriched. This is a time-consuming process that can adversely impact the usability and speed of ERP implementation.
Solution – Well-appointed Provider: An ERP provider with adequate resources, tools and knowhow for loading, mapping and cleansing data can execute the process with speed and efficiency.
- Problem – Adapting to Change: For any new system to be adopted wholeheartedly, the users have to be involved and encouraged to transition to the new system. Frequently, this is met with indifference or even resistance.
Solution – Agile Approach in Change Management: Veteran ERP implementers recognize that the agile approach is not restricted to software releases or ERP implementation alone; change management too, if done in an agile manner, can be much more effective. This involves including the frontline consumers from the beginning, introducing novel ideas in gradual steps, constantly ensuring an understanding of the what’s and why’s, and proactively obtaining feedback from them. Among other benefits, this also enables identification of errors and bugs much earlier into the process, preventing larger disruptions later on.
The world is moving towards effective, quick and continuous ERP implementation, with ERP providers embracing the idea of agility in implementation. Clearly, the one with most resources, experience and tools will be able to lead its clients to quick and efficient ERP implementations – in weeks, not months and years. Ultimately, its goal should be to equip its client with a usable system that creates value for the client every single day.
To know more about how Sixred can help you with NetSuite products, contact us today.