Many times companies need to re-brand and re-align their short and/or long-term strategic plans and goals. This might be as a result of product expansion, new competition, new management/owners, regulatory changes, etc. All these factors make the existing paths to profit for organisations to be irrelevant.The ultimate aim is to improve competition and keep the company in front of the curve.
One of the ways (among others) a strategic adjustment is done is through changing or improving the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). The ERP is usually the backbone of the company’s operations: collects and stores business information, provides feedback against which decisions are made and performance measured, etc.
Great care therefore needs to be taken in order to match the new or improved system to the entire business ecosystem.
Here are six planning tips to consider before management rolls it out.
1) Evaluate the different ways management, employees and customer’s will access information using the ERP– and then map out data access and sharing points. For example, an evaluation could show whether users will data mine or query information online. Or will use other applications for the same processes offline. A new easy-to-use workflow should be designed (and shared) that clearly shows what information is where, how (and who) accesses the information, when it is available, etc
2) Do not roll out all features at once. If the ERP has several modules, considerations should be made to introduce them department-wise. Finance and inventory, sales, etc should all have timelines against which modules are rolled out. This has to be done in a deliberate and openly communicated fashion. This will ensure a systematic deployment as core departments come on line first before others.
3) Implement during slow periods. Deployment and roll out should usually be in the middle of the month or middle of a reporting period. It is advisable that deployment during reporting times like e.g., end of the week, month, etc should be avoided. This is in order to cause as little disruption to operations as possible.
4) Prepare for change management. Employees are usually very skeptical about changes to a system they are used to. So in order for the new system to be effective, company-wide sensitization sessions should be carried out. There should be an update process, communication of important deadlines and a team ready to respond to user’s queries at all times. Attitude issues should also be addressed at this point. It is imperative that the users understand why there needs to be change from the old system, only then will they embrace the new one wholly.
5) Create a repeatable process for testing and deploying the product processes, updates, etc and don’t rush it. Develop a playbook in which all the business processes, best practices and guidelines are easily summarized. This is more like a ‘help’ function and it should be easily accessible and understandable to all relevant users.
6) Communicate any resulting shifts in job responsibilities. This is because some tasks and roles might change due to increased or decreased automation, improved access to information, etc. This should clearly be communicated to all team members and relevant personnel. Don’t surprise anyone!