Key to a successful ERP implementation

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Key to a successful ERP implementation

One of the questions you hear the most often leading up to a Dynamics AX or any other type of ERP or CRM implementation is, what are the critical success factors? Last month, at AXUG Focus in St. Louis, this question kind of came up organically during a roundtable session on how to pick your partner. A lot of what users and partners of AX were mentioning aligns with the keys to having a successful project. I thought I’d share what I consider to be critical factors for an implementation.

Setting clear expectations. Without having a clear goal, and clearly defined roles for who is responsible for what, you will always be chasing a moving target. Establish up front what the expectations are of both your internal project team and your partners, whether that’s the amount of hours they need to be committed, how to track progress, or any other things you need to maintain. Along the same lines you need to define the scope of the project clearly and keep it documented.

Take ownership of the project. As partners, we are here to guide companies on how to use the software, training, best practices, and building a solution. However, if your Subject matter experts (SMEs) and implementation team don’t take time to learn the system and apply their business knowledge to helping the partner build a solution that makes sense for your company, you will never have success. The SMEs should have the authority to make decisions for their departments and the mindset to make decisions on a global process, if necessary.

Define clear requirements. You need to be very specific in what it is you need to do when processing transactions and accessing information and reports. Terminology is different between competing software and industries so you need to be clear on what it is you are looking for. A requirement that says I need an inventory report, for example is way too vague. What data is required on this report? Does it need to be run ad hoc, in a batch, should it be in the system or in a data warehouse? All of this is important to help your partner show you which tools or processes make the most sense for you.

During simulation or testing, they key stakeholders must be involved to sign off on process in order to proceed to the next stage of the project.

Define your change management process early. What is the process going to be if a priority requirement comes up that was not in the original scope? What do you do if a new requirement arises based on a system limitation? Without defining how to handle these changes, you can waste a lot of time in unnecessary meetings, wasting valuable resources as well.

Look for a partner with experience in your industry. Many partners specialize in certain verticals. Maybe some are only experienced in manufacturing companies and you are a retailer. You need that expertise to have solutions that meet your needs. But don’t be afraid to look to various partners for specific requirements. You don’t have to limit yourself to one vendor for everything in the implementation.

Limit customizations and complexity where possible. Saying we have always had this and it needs to be this way is not how you should be going about your business. Look for opportunities to streamline your processes. Don’t build custom reports if the data is already there, just maybe in a different format then you are used to. Work with your partner(s) to learn the new system and your options before you mandate that you need a modification because you have that piece of functionality or report that you use in your current system.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’s a great start to help your companies know what to think about when approaching an implementation or looking for a partner or ISV to help you.

Author: 
Andrew Lencsak

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