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Prevent the frustration of a botched wall to wall solution

Managing Director of Sage ERP Africa, Jeremy Waterman discusses the pitfalls when installing and operating an integrated business solution.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects are notoriously complex to implement successfully. But companies that start out with realistic expectations based on a sound business case, then follow that up with sound scoping, planning and execution can accelerate their return on investment (ROI) from ERP. Sage ERP is best know locally for its Sage Pastel suite of accounting software, widely used by Namibian businesses, and regarded as a market leader in the accounting profession.

Here are a few good practices that can help you to manage your ERP implementation smoothly and complete it on time and within budget. 1. Prioritise what matters Start out with a scoping exercise and see how you can rapidly implement functionality that will make a difference to your business. Look at the core features and modules that will help you get up-and-running with 80% of your requirements before you begin looking at the nice-to-have add-ons. Be specific about the features, functions and business processes you want to roll out and about the return on investment (ROI) you want to achieve. Be careful of the temptation to gather extensive wish lists from all stakeholders as many of the “nice to have” requirements will complicate the software and the rollout. Rather save these for a phase 2 or phase 3 of the implementation. 2. Get the resourcing right ERP projects touch every corner of the business, and they will bring big changes to the way that you run your business. Make sure that that you have buy in and sign off from the CEO and the board of directors and the project is not seen as  an IT only project. Do not underestimate the human and financial resources or the time you will need to roll out your new system. Remember to think beyond IT needs and software license costs – you will need to take training and change management costs into account, as well as the time of the people who seconded the business to support the project. 3. Align the business team with the IT organisation ERP affects your whole company, but trust the guys who understand technology when it comes to technical issues about how much server hardware you need to buy or how difficult it will be to write a customisation for the software. Also, ensure that the person leading from the business side and the IT project manager are in lockstep about bringing together the business needs and the IT infrastructure. 4. Manage change. Change is frightening. Employees may be concerned about the future of their jobs or new changes in the roles they play in the company. Be proactive about managing those concerns by running a change management process to help them learn new systems and processes. Also, ensure that there is someone to answer any questions users have about how technology might change the business or their place in it. Good change management will help drive end-user adoption of the system and get people invested in the success of the project. 5. Training . Don’t skimp on time and budget for training since your system will only be as good as your end-users. If they don’t know how to use it to its full potential, your ROI will suffer. Start training early and keep training them as new features are added. With the right training, people will eagerly embrace the new system rather than fighting change.

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