The SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software helps organizations, both big and small, streamline various business processes such as service, sales, HR, manufacturing, procurement, sales and even finance. The implementation of this software provides businesses with better and more incisive visibility into their operations, which facilitates better decision making. The use of this software has also been seen to improve operational efficiency of mission critical processes and improve collaboration amongst the various departments handling diverse business processes. Another crucial advantage of implementing SAP ERP is that this software is scalable and newer functionality can be added to it as and when required. This flexibility helps businesses come up with innovative growth strategies that can be implemented without disrupting existing business processes. At the end of the day, all this helps your business get a sustainable competitive edge.
But, these benefits can evade your business if the process of SAP implementation isn’t error free or seamless. Here are some critical considerations you must keep in mind while implementing SAP and which help you leverage its immense potential.
- Work with the Right Team of SAP Professionals
Critical to the process of SAP implementation is identifying and working with professionals whose expertise is backed by extensive SAP training and who’ve plenty of successful implementations behind them. If you are a business venturing for the first time into SAP territory, it’s important to get the lay of the land first. Ask around for the best SAP professionals in the industry, get references from client/friends/associates/partners, but don’t take their word for it. Make sure you discus your requirements in-depth with your SAP consultant and make sure they are on the same page as you are, before you actually hire them for the job.
- Beware of Consultants who offer Incorrect/Incomplete Information
In order to ensure your SAP implementation is seamless, you need to be well aware of what the consultant is up to and keep track of his progress vis-a-vis your project. One of the problem areas of implementation is that the consultant you’ve hired for this process has hit a roadblock, but doesn’t want you to know he’s in trouble. You can identify such consultants with the fact that they end up giving you different answers to the same questions you pose to them at different times, and these answers are incomplete or inconclusive to say the least. The only thing you could say that is going for them, is they are able to give these answers with practiced confidence. In such cases, you really need to get rid of such consultants or have a heart-to-heart with them.
On the other hand, the mark of a good consultant is that he is very upfront about hitting a problem spot and collaborates with you, the client to come up with a solution. They don’t hide their lack of knowledge about a problem area and are willing to do more research on the same and come up with a solution.
- Make Sure the Project Preparation isn’t Half Baked
The keyword here is ‘thoroughness’. You mustn’t leave anything to chance during the preparation stage. Each and every aspect that will have a bearing on the successful implementation of SAP needs to be given due consideration. Apart from defining the goals, objectives and the scope of the project, this is also the stage in which the project budget is defined.
Sometimes in the quest to integrate a SAP solution quickly, the thoroughness of project preparation takes a big hit. So make sure your project preparation takes into account aspects such as product strategy, manufacturing locations/warehousing, supply chain, MRP and planning strategies, quality inspections and anything and everything else that will ensure that the project is realized as per your expectations.
- Getting Tangled up in the Complexity
SAP ERP is good for your business, there is no doubt about it, but it offers in-depth functionality that is a web of complexity. The chances of losing your way is more if you’re not careful and any change to the master data can actually prove to be ruinous for your business processes. This is the reason why the SAP implementation team must have the necessary technical and functional skills to not get lost in the complexity of this ERP software.
- Training is Critical
SAP implementation cannot work without having a training plan in place. Your ERP software implementation can fail to provide the ROI you are looking for, if your employees don’t know how to use the new ERP system tools. Your employees will have to adapt to a new way of working and might even have to contend with new roles in the organization and a change in their job descriptions. This is where the training comes into the picture. It allows them to make sense of all the new information that is at their disposal and make sure that they handle their job responsibilities with ease.
Whether it’s SAP or some Tier II ERP software that your business is thinking about implementing, it’s of paramount importance that this implementation be planned comprehensively and be handled by people who know their job. The key to successful implementation is ensuring that the right people are hired to undertake the software implementation process forward. Also, as a business owner or somebody who’s decided to give your business the SAP edge, you must be well aware of why you need a SAP enterprise planning resource software in the first place. Otherwise, you won’t be able to leverage its potential.