Do You Have The Appropriate IT Support For Your ERP Implementation?
If your organization has ever experienced an ERP implementation, then you are no stranger to the amount of work and preparation that goes into it to ensure it is successful. Heck, even unsuccessful ERP implementations require a lot of work and preparation. Even the smallest of errors or lack of preparation can make a huge difference in the success or failure of the implementation. One area that we often see fly under the radar with end user organizations is with their IT Infrastructure and IT support, which clearly go hand-in-hand. Many SMB organizations only have an IT department of 1 or 2 individuals, and there are many that don’t have a dedicated IT person at all. These organizations usually struggle day-to-day to fulfill all of the demands that are put on them with business as usual. So how do you know if you have enough IT Resources internally to undergo an ERP implementation? Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do you have enough IT staff for them to handle your company’s IT needs, as well as dedicate 1 or 2 individuals for the ERP implementation stage and thereafter? Simple answer is this: If you have less than 2 full-time IT staffers, then NO, you do not have enough internal IT staff to support your ERP implementation and still keep up with the IT demands of your business. If you have more than 2, you need to figure out if you can dedicate as least 1 or 2 full-time to your ERP project until the implementation stage is complete, and then an additional 3-6 months to ensure its running smooth.
- Can your IT department take on additional workload without completely killing them? An easy way to consider this is you are essentially doubling the amount of work you are putting on your IT department. So unless you are paying them full-time to do a part-time job, you probably can’t add much to their plate without overloading them. Think beyond the implementation process. Will your IT team be up to taking on new responsibilities and maintenance associated with the ERP system?
- Does your IT department have the necessary skills for an ERP implementation? ERP systems require expertise in security, network administration, hardware, data, testing, to name a few. If they don’t have these skills, can they be trained? Will doing so fit into your project timeline and budget. Keep in mind you will want to train them before the project is underway, not during.
These questions are very straightforward but need answered to help you determine if your IT department can effectively support and lead your team through your implementation. As you can see, if the answer to these questions is no, you will need to consider hiring new employees or outsourcing the services. Each has their advantages and disadvantages so you will need to do what makes the most sense for your company.
Technical considerations are just as important as IT staffing ones. Your company needs to ensure its network reliability, for without this it will be hard to remain on project schedule and your operations will suffer. Make sure your uptime is almost 100% to dramatically decrease the odds you will experience downtime. In addition to uptime reliability, backup generation and dual power feeds will keep you functioning at peak levels and will give you peace of mind. One of ERP’s most significant assets is its ability to process data and make information easier to collect, retain, interpret, and manage. This requires a robust central processing unit (CPU) and considerable memory capacity, and may require upgrading equipment or hardware. Too often organizations go into an ERP implementation with an IT infrastructure that is ultimately going to fail them, causing issues with not only the ERP implementation, but with daily operations of the business.
Take the time to carefully assess the capacity of your IT department and your technical systems. Is it not hard to see that these items go together. You need to not only have the appropriate headcount, but knowledge and skills as well, to even consider beginning an ERP implementation. Invest in them to make sure the answer to the question “Is your IT department ready for ERP implementation?” is a resounding yes! Don’t be aftraid to use a 3rd party Consultant or IT firm to assist you during this time. 2W Tech is a Certified Epicor ERP partner, but also has a large IT staff as well. We are able to offer companies not only the Epicor expertise, but the IT Network expertise as well, often eliminating the headache that comes from trying to use 2 separate companies for 1 project implementation.