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Author's profile photo Christian Horak

Tips & Tricks for an ERP implementation .. for beginners

I am generally curious what it is like to buy an ERP system for the first time. I would assume that one does not come to the SAP community first, but starts with a search. So, as an experiment, today I typed in the following question into Google:

“Tips & Tricks for ERP implementation”

Not surprisingly, I got 3.880.000 results. Also not surprisingly, the page was overloaded with advertisements. Most pages either wanted you to register for paywall access, or download something with a tracking code, or had a chat-bot getting in my face after the obligatory 15 second wait.

After about reviewing about 35 of the entries, I saw a pattern emerge. This pattern was a bit surprising, since it seemed to be very similar to what I encountered 25 years ago when I was first involved with ERP implementations.

So with all the technology change over the last quarter century, a few fundamentals seem to be unchanged characteristics of a successful ERP implementation. And, since I could not find a similar entry already posted in the SAP community, I decided to document my findings here.

Note: This list of top 10 Tips & Tricks does not assume a specific ERP solution from SAP. I am also aware, that most of the people active in the SAP community today think of this as commonplace “motherhood and apple pie wisdom”. And yet, there are 1000’s of relevant links, but if you look in the SAP community, things get very technical and detailed immediately. So I decided to start a thread around ERP for first time buyers.

The below is an aggregate view of common things I extracted from reading 35 sites offering free advice.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions. If lists like this are considered useful, there might be the potential to use the newly introduced “Groups” functionality to have a community discussion around the “Adoption Experience” for SAP ERP.

Without further Ado, here is what I condensed as the TOP 10 Tips and Tricks for ERP Implementation

 

Tip Comment
1 Executive Support It was a very common thread in the Tips and Trick pages to mention executive support. It seems a fairly common point of implementation problem to forget to lay the organizational, political and resource ground work before starting an ERP project. Like I said above, this seems to not have changed in the last 25 years.
2 Data Definition This was referred to as “Getting your data ducks in a row”. It seems to be common to forget to define the data and analytics needs before embarking on the project. Since and ERP, by definition, manages your enterprise resources, this seems to be surprising lapse, but yet, it was mentioned quite frequently.
3 Business Goals and KPI. A very common thread in the Tips and Tricks segment was to define priorities for the most critical areas. Since ERP is so wide and deep in scope, it is absolutely critical to narrow the scope for the first phase of the project. That way you can get to manageable plan that you can manage to success along clear Business Process Goals and the KPI you want to achieve.
4 User Centricity Another common tip that seemed to be very obvious, was to involve users early and often to ensure buy-in, feedback and eventual adoption. It seemed critical, to let the end users see what the solution will look like before deciding on the actual solution. It was also recommended to make user experience a top priority and to make ample time for on-boarding and training
5 Long-term partner with industry expertise. Another tip that seemed unchanged from 25 years ago, was to team up with an implementation expert with industry expertise. ERP is a long-term relationship, and you might want to pick a partner for the long haul that has weathered a few storms.
6 Integration and Extensibility A common thread was to start with a clearly defined limited scope, preferably on standard processes to get to results and adoption quickly. When choosing the rapid deployment path, it then becomes imperative to choose a solution that can be easily integrated with other applications and that can be easily extended as your requirements grow.
7 Project Team and Project Tools Establishing the project team with experts from all affected areas and using professional tools to manage the complexities of an ERP project also showed up in nearly all recommendation checklists.
8 Change Management In addition to Project Management, many of the sites put emphasis on establishing Change Management, which loops back to point #1 with Executive Support. ERP, when done properly, positively affects the entire organization but only when driven and promoted with a strong cross functional team that can ensure buy-in and support needed to reap the benefits of the innovation, change, automation and intelligence provided.
9 Standardize, Standardize, Standardize. One of the key repeating themes was standardization. Most sites recommended to not only lock down the precise scope, but to try to achieve as much as possible with standard capabilities. Allowing customization too early and opening the door to “scope creep” was listed many times as a reason for delays, cost overruns and limited success.
10 Phased Adoption Last, but not least, many of the blogs recommended a phased adoption. Don’t boil the ocean. Focus on a go-live with a limited, standard scope, ideally based on a template,  and get to a first go live as fast as feasible. This will prove the viability of the project, deliver on your key business priorities such as real-time insights, improved planning, cost savings with more automation, and convince skeptics. It’s a win for all.

 

I’ll stop here because I wanted to do a TOP 10, not a TOP 1000. I am sure I have missed many things. But I wanted to put this out there as a discussion starter. I believe there are still hundreds of thousands of organizations that have not implemented their first ERP solution. If they are like me, they will start with Google, and get 4 Million results. Maybe, as a community, we can start documenting our best practices right here, make them “findable” and useful to companies and imple-“mentors” that are just starting out. Like i said above, maybe the newly created “groups” capability in the SAP community can be a tool to add value for the adoption experience for SAP ERP.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments. Maybe you can even report on your own learnings about how to get to ERP value with your personal best practices?

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