ERP Evaluation & Implementation
Objective of this service
ERP consulting consists of the various services provided for selection, implementation, training, support, and guidance of an Enterprise Resource Planning system, which is essentially a software tool and application-driven information/data repository, driving organisational business processes. The primary objective of this service program is to equip you with the requisite knowledge about how to successfully implement an ERP system, helping you to correctly evaluate the best-fit ERP as per your customized requirements and budget. Importantly, the service ensures that the team smoothly and seamlessly executes all facets of the ERP system implementation life cycle, including the key transformational ERP implementation phases – Evaluation, Selection, Customization & Implementation of ERP.
Importance of a Robust & Agile ERP
“Though the traditional waterfall approach fortifies the reliability of ERP systems, a new-age agile approach helps to drastically streamline ERP projects. The importance of robust and agile ERP planning and implementation can be seen from its following benefits:
- Replace unsupported, legacy systems: Agile ERP systems eliminate legacy systems that store incompatible data and cause fragmentations. Integrated systems disseminate easily sharable information across the organization, examples being user-friendly dashboards to continuously track business performance.
- Streamline and automate key business processes: Business process improvements and efficiency are major drivers for ERP initiatives. As a case in point, increased efficacy leads to lower sales quotes, reduced lead times, and greater overall responsiveness to customer needs. Redundant processes and tasks can also be effectively eliminated through automation.
- Reduce operational cycle times (i.e., increased agility) and costs (i.e., improved profitability): In accounting and finance, a properly selected ERP implementation enables accurate and timely processing of accounts payable and receivable transactions, leading to improved cash flows, shorter financial cycles, and efficient financial management and reporting practices.
- Technological innovation – increased system mobility and flexibility: Present-day ERP systems help the business to remain on top technologically, with increased real-time mobility and flexibility through various user-friendly options and solutions. Current ERP software platforms are powerfully built, elastic in nature, and easily configurable. They are not a one-size-fits-all solution but can be tailored to the unique needs of a business.
- Customized business applications and suites: During the ERP implementation process, enterprise applications and suites can be customised to effectively assist with business operations. ERP’s flexibility also goes into its implementation processes and methodology, either through the choice of the cloud or on-premise software solutions.
- Resource Scalability: Structured ERP systems allow new user additions, data, and functions to grow the initially implemented solution over time. Irrespective of your business size, the ERP system grows along with it.
- Integrated Information: ERP software acts as a central hub for all important organisational and departmental information required for daily business operations. Thus, there are no issues with data scattered across separate databases, as all information is stored and updated in real-time in a centralised location. CRM software platforms can be integrated with ERP software, maintaining consistency, accuracy, and uniqueness of data.
- Data Accuracy & Reliability: The ERP implementation process ensures the provisioning of reliable data that can be accessed from different locations (if implemented in the cloud) and through multiple digital devices including tablets and smartphones. ERP improves data accuracy and consistency, with users able to ensure that all data and analytics are safe to use, without running the risk of errors. ERP user data can also have additional security layers through firewalls and built-in protection mechanisms.”
Challenges during assessment & Implementation of ERP
“An ERP implementation process is a multi-stage project that consists of redesigning business processes to harness the advantage of the new system’s capabilities, configuring the software and tools, migrating the organization’s data, and training users. During the ERP implementation, the following are the commonly faced problems in implementing ERP systems:
- Working out the integrable processes: A challenge of ERP system implementation is to figure out which of the already existing processes and systems would benefit from an ERP integration, and which ones would end up obstructing the business workflow. This is especially complex for organisations with competing divisions.
- Time-bound Project management and planning: The phases of ERP implementation life cycle include discovery and planning, design, development, data migration, testing, deployment, support, and post-launch updates. Each phase brings with it critical tasks and related issues, with project components, stakeholders, and group participants needing to stay on track and requiring meticulous project management. This can be challenging, as each department has to balance its ERP project responsibilities with multiple priorities.
- Inadequate flexibility: in the ERP system implies time and resources spent on process adoption to suit the ERP system. However, by choosing the right software for your specific business needs, you can ensure seamless integration, thereby eliminating the lack of flexibility.
- Selecting the Right Vendor: After you’ve analysed your business processes and needs and created a requirements list, it’s time to evaluate potential vendors in the context of your ERP goals. It’s critical to carefully select an ERP partner who will work with you and align with your team throughout the ERP evaluation and implementation process, proactively evaluating your goals/objectives and suggesting plans and processes positively impacting business operations.
- Creating an effective communication plan: This plan should communicate the ERP goals to all employees. If the organisation is large, a small communication team representing different departments can help broadcast the ERP story. The core team should be kept up-to-date throughout the ERP implementation phases so that they can share the info, i.e., progress, milestones, challenges, and setbacks with the related teams. The communication plan should include the people most impacted by ERP system implementation and adoption. There should also be a forum for concerned employees to provide feedback, suggestions, criticism, and improvements.
- Insufficient Budgeting: When budgeting for ERP implementation, several factors could increase the scope of work and the project cost. If the ERP system is out-of-the-box and meets all needs, the budget doesn’t have to factor in unexpected costs, in comparison to systems that require a lot of customization to meet all needs. Most new systems also require some level of upkeep and maintenance, for which expenses have to be budgeted.
- Building the Right Team: While people generally see ERP adoption as an IT priority, the new ERP system will directly impact employees across different business functions. The core ERP team should comprise people from key departments throughout the organization. Employees from all levels – executives, mid-level managers, and project managers should be included, especially those responsible for day-to-day tasks.
- Change management: An ERP implementation process typically signifies overhauling business processes by capitalising on efficiency and productivity improvements in the new solution. This requires a shift in mindset and a change in everyday work processes. Thus, resistance to change can be a formidable roadblock, and getting the go-ahead from leadership and stakeholders across departments early on is key to a successful exercise. The features and advantages of the new ERP system implementation have to be communicated to all stakeholders throughout the process, especially front-line end users. All the users should also receive comprehensive training and support to smoothen their system adoption journeys.
- Bad Data: Migration to a new business management solution might result in the loss of valuable data or create inaccessible or bad data, thereby jeopardizing the ERP implementation process. The vendor should be able to manage data migration and integration without losing data quality or stopping essential operations caused by data loss.”
Why DFX for ERP Evaluation & Implementation?
Digital Finance Experts (DFX) is a leading business management and ERP implementation consultant offering a wide variety of industry-ready solutions, specifically providing customized ERP evaluation and implementation services for organisations. An ERP consultant par excellence, DFX has years of proven expertise in all spheres of ERP planning and implementation and is ably spearheaded by an experienced ERP consulting team. DFX and its sister organizations like Business Process Xperts (BPX) have been strategic and transformational partners for top-tier clients over several years now, expertly hand-holding potential clients on how to successfully implement an ERP system. As your trusted ERP implementation consultant, DFX can help you to effectively kick-start your organisation’s ERP implementation process and safely steer your ship across all potential hurdles along the way. If you are an entrepreneur or business owner on the lookout for a successfully orchestrated ERP process implementation, please touch base with the DFX ERP consulting team right now. We will help you craft your very own success story, as your business expands, scales, and grows exponentially to stay well ahead of the curve!
What to not expect from this service program:
While guiding you through all the phases of ERP implementation life cycle, this service program will not provide you with the technical coding and testing expertise and guidance needed for the ERP implementation process. Thus, the entire ERP software and system development module, which consists of the creation and programming of enterprise resource planning software, tools, and applications shall be within the scope and purview of the selected ERP vendor, as a part of the ERP implementation process.
Identify areas/ functions where ERP and other business applications implementation is needed:
As part of the business architecture framework for the implementation of ERP and other applications, we have to identify areas/departments from where data can be collected and stored in one centralized place, i.e. Finance & Accounting, Human Resources, Customer Relationship Management, Production Management, Business Intelligence, Warehouse Management, Inventory Management, Supply Chain Management, Point-of-Sale (POS) and eCommerce. The steps for effective ERP implementation are:
- Choosing the right ERP selection team
- Identifying the problem and objective, analysing your KPIs
- Deciding your budget and implementation timeframe
- Choosing the best ERP system for your organisation
- Preparing a best-fit ERP Implementation plan
- Preparing to migrate and switch ERP systems
- Customizing the system for your business processes, adding new functionalities
- Providing ERP employee training on how to optimally use the new ERP software
- Testing the ERP system (ensuring no gaps, bugs, or errors, issue identification, and resolution)
- Going Live (with additional functionality testing once live to ensure that the system is fully operational).
- Additional ERP support for regular software updates and maintenance
Finalise the modules needed in the ERP and the features:
To finalise and select the ERP and its requirements, modules, and features that align with the organisation's needs, here are the principal selection criteria used:
- The Functional Fit for Your Organization
- Industry Experience
- Price (by calculating the ERP’s ROI, the total cost of ownership, pricing mode/software licensing, and implementation cost)
- ERP Vendor Viability
- ERP Implementation Project Considerations (Business timing, executive support, project plan methodology)
- Technology (End-user reporting tools, Simplicity in UI and UX, Business intelligence, Data security, System performance and Response time, Integration with other systems, Customization capability)
- Risk (and how to avoid it)
- References (feedback from the ERP company’s clients)
- Post-Go-Live (on-going support and training plan)
While finalising the ERP, modules, and features, the below benchmarks have to be remembered:
- Efficient and automated processes
- Centralized ERP platform with integrated data from best-in-class applications
- Stable and automated integration platform
- Simple and efficient accounting structure
- All locations data consolidated in a single database
- Company-wide metrics and analysis reporting
- Automated and easy-to-use workflow functionality
- Allow for easy electronic document management and storage
- Rich application functionality out-of-the-box
- Standardized user access profile management
Selection, Negotiation, Finalization:
Selecting a new ERP solution is a large project require the following key factors to be considered for the ERP Evaluation process:
- Determine system requirements
- Ensure senior management support
- Establish a project roadmap
- Factor in the total cost of ownership (TCO)
- Consider peer references
- Establish a relationship with the vendor
- Evaluate deployment flexibility
The ERP Evaluation Process: Demo alignment, review, shortlist, negotiation, and finalisation consist of the following key steps:
Pre-demo activities - Shortlist:
- Ideally, the demo prospects should be shortlisted into two or three ERP vendors, helping to eliminate vendor blur.
- This final shortlist should include vendors that have options offered in your price range, provide the required features, are designed according to the size and scope of your company and have scored high marks in the vendor evaluation process.
- As per request, the prospective vendors should be provided with a data sampling (example bill of materials - BOM, production notes, etc.) to enable them to perform personalized transactions during the interactive software demo.
- There should be communication with the vendor beforehand to discuss the specific addressable points and perceived functionality gaps, and all this can be incorporated into the personalized demonstration.
- A list of questions should be prepared before the scheduled demo, also simultaneously reserving the right to ask impromptu questions during the presentation or at specific times to ensure that all areas of discussion are covered. Detailed notes should be made during the software demonstration to effectively evaluate the differences among vendors without an overlap of each software’s functionalities and uniqueness.
- As a critical part of the selection process, the full ERP demo should take the audience through a day in the life of the company, highlighting order entry, purchasing, bill of material management, manufacturing, quality control, accounting, and other key organisational features.
- With this level of detailing, your company should set aside approximately eight hours to get a complete picture of the ERP software's capabilities. Ideally, the format should be similar for each vendor to facilitate easier comparisons.
- The detailed software demonstration provides your company with the information needed to compare and contrast solution options – focusing on your organization’s requirements and expectations from the new ERP system.
- In this demo, each ERP vendor will effectively demonstrate how their software can align with your business objectives and operational methodology, highlighting the strengths and uniqueness of their solution and their industry-ratified solution offerings.
- After the ERP demo, the selection committee should convene to summarize the demonstration, determine its takeaway points and prepare a list of additional questions that may have come up following the presentation.
- If required, a specific portion of the demo may have to be repeated for a further explanation until all aspects are covered – requiring additional time to complete the evaluation.
- The selection team should review software performance and functionalities indicated by scorecard rankings, as well as the company's overall perception of vendor capability.
- Finally, the selection team should have all the information needed to make an informed purchase decision and select the right ERP software in line with the company’s objectives, work culture, requirements, and processes. The selected ERP vendor should be open to questions, and negotiations concerning all the terms and conditions of the final contract, pricing, etc.
Negotiation & Finalisation – DO’s and DON’T’s:
The negotiation and finalisation process should consist of assembling a professional negotiation team, pre-establishing a negotiation strategy, reviewing the contract and terms of warranties, comparing bids, seeking legal counsel, reading the fine print, minutely examining the service level agreement, capturing and pinpointing all fees and hidden costs including the implementation costs, thoroughly understanding the ramifications of the terms and conditions, uncovering possible vendor motivations to gain leverage, using a scoring template to identify your best negotiation options, and if there is a negotiation breakdown on terms and conditions, to be always prepared to walk away from the contract.
The global or localised rollout plan for an ERP software system is commonly adopted by organizations that aim to leverage and take advantage of standardized and streamlined business processes and operational visibility across all local entities, or business departments. Depending on specific business needs and their complexity, organizations can choose different rollout strategies.
Companies might choose to pre-define a standardised universal template at the start of the ERP implementation project and then rolling it out to the local business entities, or departments. On the other hand, they might also factor in flexibility and define the template during the project implementation, based on specific business needs. In practice, businesses tend to choose the first option since it leads to lower costs.
To ensure the success of the universal ERP rollout template, the following factors must be taken into consideration:
- Template readiness and adaptability
- Strong governance
- Proactive change management
- Skills roles and responsibilities
- User training
- Common master data definitions;
- Management of dependencies with other integrated systems
ERP Masters Updation:
ERP packages contain different modules, such as finance, sales and distribution, materials management, manufacturing and production control, human resources, plant maintenance, and quality management. Due to the integrated nature of the functioning of all the modules, master tables are referenced frequently all across the system and databases and shared by different applications, functional areas, and sites. Master data updated thereon needs to be accurate, complete, timely, consistent, and easily accessible. The quality of master data inputted is a major reason for the success of an ERP Implementation.
The following best practices should be adopted while updating master data in an ERP system:
- Collection and maintenance of master data
- Defining a clear-cut process and procedure for maintenance of master data.
- Ownership of data should be properly defined.
- In-built workflows and authorization for adding and modifying data.
- Documentation of the process should be done
- Audit trails of master tables should be activated and modifications logged in the system.
- Proper excel templates or data mapping should be done with a legacy system, for the initial collection of data.
- Master data should be properly classified
Examples of master data in ERP systems include delivery, shipment, invoicing, payment methods, parent company of customer, country location (for tax and statistical purposes), status (active, inactive, potential), credit rating, financial groups, contact names and addresses, default currency, prices and discount, sales channels, sales offices, transport, etc.
ERP User Rights Updation:
Access Control protection for ERP Data:
ERP software should be risk-free, and unauthorized users could misuse sensitive data, representing a significant security threat. Access control helps to mitigate risk and is known as identity and access management (IAM), defined by Gartner as ‘the security discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons.’ Thus, to reduce security breaches, risk and safeguard sensitive data, businesses must thoroughly vet users and restrict ERP user rights access on a strict need-to-know basis.
The following strategies can be adopted in this regard:
- ERP User rights and access levels: Distribute access levels with user-based permissions, specifying user role, permission level, document type, identification of vulnerabilities through periodic access control reviews
- Managers can look for warning signs, i.e. ERP access control warning signs
- User administration should be verified as continuous/ongoing and immediate, with strict guidelines and process standards implemented. This includes adding new users, modifying existing users, and disabling inactive users
- Enforce strong passwords and update logins regularly
- Employee assessment of workplace password security
- Automation of ERP access control processes (like user modification and access rights) through IAM applications
- Boosting efficiency, monitoring user activity, and enforcing regulatory compliance based on a customizable set of parameters
- Periodic review of existing access control processes
- Reinforce security best practices with ongoing ERP training
75 - 95 days.
Step 01 - Request for Quote
Step 02 - Service Quote Finalization along with SLA (Service Level Agreement)
Step 03 - DFX Experts start working on your business
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