Cloud ERP Implementation Survival Guide

A cloud-based ERP system is the next step in streamlining the financials, operations and manufacturing management for a business. A cloud-based system is a particularly excellent fit for small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the excess funds to invest in software and hardware, or who don’t have the extra space to house the hardware for their ERP system.

For manufacturing and distribution software, a cloud-based ERP system is a useful solution for many small businesses. Implementing one into a business’s management operations is relatively easy to plan and execute.

1.) Review current processes

When a business is in the market for a new cloud ERP software system, they often want to incorporate their existing manufacturing or distribution process. However, they may fail to identify parts of their existing processes that are too complex and inefficient. It’s crucial to outline the requirements the cloud-based ERP will need based on an effective review of the existing process.

The requirements for an ERP system should include budget requirements, staffing requirements, technical requirements and functional requirements. 

2.) Review processes using discovery

A business that is looking to implement a new ERP system with an improved management or distribution process will need to look at the beginning and end points of their processes. This is known as discovery. A business should first assess what each department needs and who will be most invested in the different points of the ERP process. This can help a business streamline the more important pieces of their ERP system to the right people and departments.

The business should then use discovery to assess where the weaknesses or gaps are in the manufacturing and distribution processes and incorporate fixing these gaps into the new ERP software requirements. Set out a timeline for rolling out the new software and a goal of how quickly it should be implemented in each department and, ultimately, throughout the business as a whole. 

Finally, assess how much the final cost will be, including initial expenses such as the purchase of the software, training and maintenance costs including upgrades and support.

3.) Research and interview vendors

A business owner should first do proper research of vendors who offer cloud ERP software and look through the reviews by other business owners. Executives should make a note of what they like about the software, and the items that may not work for their business, or that might be problematic for different steps in their processes. 

The business owner should then interview the vendors thoroughly and not be afraid to ask tough questions. If the vendor cannot address the concerns of the business or does not have a plan in place to address those concerns in the future, then the software may not be the proper fit. Likewise, if the vendor cannot properly explain or solve the issues of resource planning for a business, it may be an indicator that their support won’t be very effective. 

Executives should be prepared to outline their discovery process and see where the vendor can improve the distribution or manufacturing processes of the business with their software. 

4.) Don’t get sidetracked by features

Often, a business owner will get distracted by the great features vendors offer in their presentations or previews. While these features may be useful, some features will never be used by the business. Instead, executives should assess the customization, mobile options and flexibility of a cloud-based ERP. Additionally, business owners should ask how the system will utilize IoT to streamline distribution or manufacturing processes.

5.) Make plenty of time for demos

To see how a system will work properly in a business’s resource planning process, most vendors will schedule demos–either in-house or online–which will outline the ways their product will maximize the effectiveness of a business’s requirements. Demos should be scheduled with executives from each department, along with any key stakeholders who will be essential in implementing the software.

Business owners should provide feedback forms for each stakeholder who views the demo to compile ideas and narrow down the list of vendors further.

6.) Have patience for the implementation process

Once an executive and his or her stakeholders have decided on an ERP system, they should be prepared for the many bumps in the road that come with implementing new software. While a cloud-based ERP system is easier because the requirements to maintain it are not in-house, there will still be plenty of training, questions and mistakes that will take time to overcome. 

Business owners should take the lead in demonstrating patience and understanding to their department managers, as this will trickle down to the employees. Everyone will be in a learning curve for a while, but, ultimately, the new system will become second nature for everyone.




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