Manufacturing Tomorrow


How Fast Should I Implement an ERP System

Apr 28, 2017
Manufacturing and Distribution

Transitioning to new, highly efficient technology makes for exciting times around an organization. Getting swept up in the possibilities of an ERP system, however, can mean implementing it faster than what is perhaps prudent for maximum benefit.

It begs the question: How fast is too fast? The timeline is different for everyone, but there are some universal truths about how pushing the implementation envelope in these particular areas can derail ERP effectiveness:

  1. Discovery. Without nuanced information about how your business works and doesn’t work, and which ERP system functionalities will address shortcomings and optimize processes, you’re merely scratching the surface of your needs. In short, you don’t know what you don’t know—and adding a layer of software will complicate rather than resolve issues.

  2. Details. If you remain focused on what an ERP system can do for your business technologically, you may get caught off guard when implementation practicalities like cost, ROI, data migration, resource management, etc., are questioned. Think through the project from all perspectives, engaging appropriate departments and personnel as necessary to discuss “big picture” strategies, potential pitfalls, and opportunities well before the ERP system goes live.

  3. Testing. Thinking that an ERP system can be flawlessly implemented without testing is misguided. Testing “what-if” end user scenarios is a critical mode for learning and resolving functionality and performance issues before they hinder real world operations. Inadequate testing may invite recurrence of minor (or not-so-minor) problems and workaround solutions that push fixes off indefinitely, minimizing system and staff effectiveness.

  4. Training. Switching to an ERP system is a big deal, and your staff will embrace it in their roles to varying degrees. Training is your opportunity to instill confidence in all employees—as long as you invest proper time in it. You may think condensing training sessions into, say, a few days or hours is thrifty time management, but the reality suggests otherwise. Rushed training elevates employee stress, increases the chances that key learnings will be missed, and can cause errors that will require future retraining. 

  5. Change. As alluded to above, not everyone is open to change. If you don’t clearly articulate ERP system project details—from intended timelines to benefits and expectations—unfounded fears could fuel employee resistance and diminish their willingness to participate in optimizing business practices using the ERP system.

Wanting to implement an ERP system quickly to start reaping the benefits is understandable, but doing so at the expense of planning, support and training can slow progress. Reach out to Wipfli’s experts today to develop an ERP system strategy that fits your goals and timeline.


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