The value of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems is clear but businesses often fail to maximize the full functionality and benefits of their ERP solutions – and some indicate their ERP system is not working as expected. Why is this? The reasons are many and may include lack of project objectives and definition, inadequate personnel training, insufficient ERP system testing, or poor resource or budget planning. One solution to this problem is simple: businesses need to use their existing ERP system properly. This seems obvious but it is astonishing how many businesses implement an ERP solution, and then continue to use old tools and processes to work around the new system. With this in mind, let’s review some steps that will help your business get the most out of its ERP software investment.
Sometimes the optimal way to run a work process is not clear until after the ERP software has been implemented and established. After your EPR solution has been operational for a period of time, conduct a health assessment to review the work processes and assess if the business is maximizing the benefits of the ERP tool. Oftentimes, ERP systems that are not performing ideally are the result of the users or processes – not the software itself – so it is important to understand any misalignment between your team’s expectations of the ERP tool and reality.
Take the time to talk with ERP end-users across all the business lines to see what steps are the sticking points and what improvements they would like to see. Here are examples of how businesses may not be using the ERP tools properly, and areas to probe into during discussions with ERP end-users:
Document Key Issues: After completing the health assessment with the ERP users, document the key issues you wish to address. Once you have a list, prioritize the issues taking into consideration their importance to the business and how easy they are to resolve.
Communicate with Your ERP Vendor: On-going communication with your ERP vendor is crucial in order to stay informed of the latest functionalities and tap into their expertise! Review your key issues list with your vendor, and walk through the current ERP work processes. Ask your vendor which processes can be automated or simplified. Discuss if software updates would address some of the issues, and if any software extensions or additional customizations can be added for further improvements.
Ensure Efficient Data Usage: During your assessment, you may determine that the software has what you need but the business is not using its data to its full potential. As necessary, adjust the dashboards and fields to ensure your team is viewing the “right” data. Convert hard-copy and non-integrated reports to a dashboard format or purpose-built reports to save time and ensure users have access to real-time data. Spend the time to understand the costs of each work process, and, where warranted. Develop robust cost models that quickly allow users to see the impact of different scenarios. Also, ensure your team is utilizing the ERP system’s mobile options for data viewing and management when personnel are away from their desks.
Provide Sufficient Training: Employee resistance to change is a common cause for “flawed” ERP systems, and training is a way of ensuring personnel get comfortable with the new system and procedures. An adequate level of initial and on-going training for ERP users is critical. If employees are inadequately trained, they often fail to take full advantage of the ERP tools, and can become frustrated and revert back to manual workarounds outside of the ERP system. Spend the time upfront – and on-going as necessary – to train personnel.
Evaluate New ERP Software: If your team has tried all of the options above, and are still unsatisfied with your existing ERP solution, it may be time for a new ERP software. We are reluctant to change but don’t stick with your current ERP solution for fear of change – a better solution may be out there! Before switching, you will need to diligently consider the costs, benefits, personnel requirements, risks, and other implications of a new ERP system in order to determine if a new system is the right option for you.
Contact a KeyedIn specialist today at 1-866-662-6820 to find the optimal solution to your ERP system needs, or request a demo.
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