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7 Tips For Implementing A Cloud ERP System

Mr. Biswas Nair

Over the years, we have seen an increase in the number of companies willing to adopt cloud-based ERP systems. IT decision makers are realizing the clear advantages that cloudERP offers in terms of ease of deployment and cost effectiveness. Since cloud ERP requires no additional hardware, you don't have to waste extra time in procuring and installing IT infrastructure.

With cloud ERP, you can easily roll out across multiple regions, subsidiaries, and divisions, avoiding the additional costs associated with those rollouts. Moreover cloud-based ERP systems are also easier to scale and provide the flexibility to add more users as your business grows. This is a big reason why many SMBs and growing businesses are seriously looking at implementing Cloud ERP.

Even after an organization takes the decision to implement Cloud ERP, it may not be able to reap the same benefits that others may have achieved. The reason why companies have drastically different experience with ERP systems points to the core of ERP success – the implementation strategy or approach. Implementing an ERP system is a holistic process that takes time, commitment and careful planning. There are numerous factors responsible for the success of an ERP program.

Here are seven important factors to consider while implementing a Cloud-based ERP system:

1. Define your ERP strategy around your company's core business needs

The first step in any ERP implementation is to identify your company's needs and business objectives accurately. Start by finding and documenting the critical business processes, inflection points and key performance indicators (KPI).This will help you identify the right ERP solution, and need for specialists or additional services to manage this transition. Before you begin to implement, you must have a complete plan or roadmap in place. You must be able to clearly define your expectations from the ERP system and the benefits you want for your organization. As Gartner puts it, "The most successful ERP projects support strategic business objectives and goals. This helps to ensure the right level of executive involvement to support the major business changes that enterprises demand."

2. Management and involvement of team for better utilization of resources

An ERP system impacts the entire business cycle, so it is advisable to involve all the stakeholders in the initial stages of discussion. This will ensure that there are fewer bottlenecks and arguments down the road, giving you more time to focus on the critical tasks. Even after your system is configured, you would need to train your employees on how to use the new program. User 'buy-in' is the most critical factor for the success of any ERP program. You could engage a group that specializes in onsite training or prepare your IT team to handle the day-to-day tech problems and user requirements.

3. Ensure tight control of the budget throughout the implementation process

An ERP implementation may require substantial investment, especially when enterprises have special requirements. So make sure you assess the expenditure clearly before you begin and maintain a close watch on spending even throughout the implementation process. Most successful ERP projects have a dedicated project manager to ensure the project is kept on track, on budget and moving in the right direction.

4. Develop performance metrics for evaluation of the program

During the implementation process or even after it, enterprises need to develop and put in place key performance metrics to measure the impact the ERP system is creating. This would help in determining whether the implementation is going in the right direction or not, and if you need to take any corrective action to improve things.

5. Knowledge transfer and awareness for user acceptance

Make sure there is sufficient awareness about the need and scope of the new ERP system, and that employees are able to extract maximum benefits from it. Before you even begin the deployment process, it is important that employees have sufficient knowledge about the new system and are convinced about using it for their respective business functions.

6. Testing for smooth execution

Testing is a very critical step that is often overlooked. Several weeks of parallel testing is recommended for the success of any ERP program. It is crucial that your daily work is processed on your old system and also on your new system before going live so that everyone knows their new roles and responsibilities and questions/issues can be addressed without the added pressure beforehand. Testing will not only help in ironing out any obstacles on the path, but will also help in gaining employee confidence that is very important for the success of any program.

7. Preparing to 'go live' finally…

Once your system has been configured, tested and your employees have been trained, it's time to 'go live' or activate your ERP system. Before you finally go live on the program, make sure you are fully prepared to take on the new system. A well-prepared and clearly defined implementation strategy can go a long way in ensuring the success of any ERP system.

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