Being a long time Epicor ERP Partner, we have been involved in hundreds of ERP installations. And unfortunately, we have seen some clients that have implementation challenges. There is only so much as a Consultant we can do for our clients. The road map to a successful ERP implementation is different for every organization, as each has its own set of challenges and cultural issues to overcome. Whether its underutilization, limited or broken functionality, or complete failure of the system, you are going to want to be aware of some common implementation challenges. Although every organizations road map to success is different, there is going to be a few common challenges each one may face.
- Lack of user buy-in. People don’t like change, it’s human nature. It is not uncommon for word to spread within the organization prior to any ERP project that the installation process and system itself is complex. Rumblings of this type only feed into the reluctancy the users have in engaging the system. Without full employee cooperation, the implementation will be a failure or at least not as successful as it could be. One way to overcome this challenge is to have a written installation plan with goals and check-ins and/or a project manager that can monitor the progress. This will help get buy-in from Executive level, Managers, and then hopefully funnel its way down to all users. Giving employees the reassurance that the plan deadlines are being met and handling any obstacles at each level of the plan, will help get their acceptance easier.
- Poor Communication. Given that lack of user buy-in was already mentioned as an obstacle, poor communication can magnify that challenge. Communications need to be clear and frequent. If communication is done properly up-front, users are aware of the ERP project and the company objectives. This helps let your employees feel like they are part of the process and in the know. This will make it more likely they will adopt the system and strive to achieve the goals set out for them. To properly set the stage, employees should all get an understanding of why your business is implementing the ERP system and how this system will affect not only the organization, but their individual job duties. They also need to understand what role they play in the process, as every employee will play a role.
- Training is insufficient. Training users on the new system should be worked into the ERP project plan. The training shouldn’t be just set up after the implementation is complete, it should be ongoing throughout the entire process. Effective training also requires various training methods, as not every individual learns the same way. An ERP system can only be successful and benefit the business if it’s used properly. Your business should dedicate the resources of both time and money to ensure every user is trained properly on the system. If you don’t, this employee is not being as effective as possible and over time, will affect your bottom line.
- Culture Shock. Organizations implement ERP systems for a change. Any changes, especially one as large of this system, will affect the culture in your workplace. The amount of processes and systems that will change, will most likely be a culture shock. It is important to understand this going in, so it can be properly managed and planned for. Preparing employees for this change will help minimize the shock. It will also be important for employees to see that some of your business practices and principles will remain in tact, so that they will be able to maintain some level of familiarity.
The reality is that no ERP installation is ever easy. Communication is the one word that can help ease the complexity of this project. As an Epicor Consultant, we often stress the importance of communication between ourselves and our clients. As you can see, it is equally important for an organization to employ this communication strategy within their own business as well. There is no substitution for effective and strong communication.