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How to implement an ERP without disrupting your business

Nov 03, 2021

Implementing an enterprise resource planning system (ERP) is a big undertaking in terms of time, stress and the potential to disrupt your business’s day-to-day.

To reduce disruption and ensure the highest level of productivity possible during the ERP implementation phases, it helps to work with a provider that has plenty of ERP implementation experience and a toolbox filled with proven methods for saving time and reducing stress.

Here’s a rundown of some of the steps manufacturers can take to help ensure a smooth, stress-free implementation:

1. Manage expectations and change

One of our biggest recommendations is to clearly and frequently communicate with your people throughout the ERP process, particularly at the outset.

Employees will be concerned about how the ERP will affect them. Will it mean changes to their job descriptions? Will their workload expand? Will they have to learn new software?

Productivity is especially a concern for them. Many manufacturers hold their teams responsible for reaching a specific level of productivity, so when those employees are told that an ERP system comes with a sometimes steep learning curve, they may fear they’ll struggle to achieve their goals.

Lastly, employees will want to know the reasons for the change and how that change will take place.

The more your employees know about the purpose and benefits of an ERP, what’s expected of them during the project and how to use the system going forward, the more likely they’ll be to embrace it. Make clear communication a priority.

2. ERP training

People often push back when told about the new ERP software, but it’s not because they don’t believe it has long-term value. They’re usually reluctant because they fear they won’t know how to use it.

A detailed training schedule and dedicated time to practice will help them feel comfortable with the tools and their ability to properly use them. Along with thorough communication, robust training helps your enable effective change management during your ERP implementation process.

3. Walk before you run

Implementation isn’t — and shouldn’t be — a “flip the switch” kind of transition. That approach is unrealistic and difficult to expedite flawlessly.

A more productive approach is to get a “working model” up and running so you can get a look at this new tool, and staff can see how it works and get a feel for how they’ll be using it.

Because an early model lets people give input and feedback, you’re then able to refine the ERP solution to address specific needs of your organization. This is considered an iterative approach, wherein feedback is used to tweak the solution, then the process starts all over again — more feedback, more refinement. These mini process improvement initiatives help users get comfortable with the ERP and align the ERP with their needs.

Reduce disruption with an experienced ERP implementation consultant

Perhaps the best way to ensure a smooth, stress-free implementation is to work with experts who not only know the ins and outs of ERPs but also know your business.

The manufacturing team at Wipfli has worked for decades with job shops, contract manufacturers and discrete manufacturers. We understand the needs of the business, how an ERP needs to help reach growth and profitability goals — and how to achieve both without getting tangled up in potential pitfalls. We’re also specialists in ERP change management, which helps further boost your ROI.

If you’re considering ERP technology, reach out and we’ll show you how our insights and the right ERP solution can help you build a profitable, scalable business solution. Click here to learn more.

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Brett Polglaze
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