Implementing an ERP is a big undertaking in terms of time, stress and the potential to disrupt the typical day in the life of a company and its people. Whether an organization is a first-time ERP user or simply replacing its current system with a shiny new one, the impact on the company can be significant.
To mitigate the disruption and ensure the highest level of productivity possible during the implementation process, you need 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 job shops and contract manufacturers can use to ensure a smooth, stress-free implementation:
1. Manage Expectations and Change
It’s critical that a company makes an effort to clearly and frequently communicate with its people throughout the 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?), the reasons for the change, and how that change will take place.
Perhaps the biggest employee concern we encounter when implementing an ERP is related to productivity. Many companies hold their teams responsible for 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.
The more your employees know about the purpose and benefits of an ERP and what’s expected of them during the project and the use of the system in the future, the more likely they’ll be to embrace it.
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.
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 the organization can get a look at this new tool they’ve been hearing about, and staff can see how it works and get a feel for how they’ll be using it. Another added benefit of this approach is that an early model lets people give input and feedback, often very valuable as the ERP solution is refined to address specific needs of the 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.
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 – and have valuable experience working in these types of businesses. That means we understand the needs of the business and how an ERP needs to help reach growth and profitability goals—and how to achieve both without getting tangled up in potential pitfalls.
If you’re considering an ERP system, reach out and we’ll show you how our insights and the right ERP solution can help you build a profitable, scalable business solution.