Software implementations can be exhausting, disruptive, and the difference between success and failure perilous with every challenge and milestone. I haven’t won an Oscar or run a marathon but I suspect celebrating an ERP go-live accomplishment ranks right up there. However, one of the biggest mistakes customers make when investing in an ERP solution is thinking that the project is complete upon go-live. Like any other asset, ERP software requires a commitment of time and energy to continue yielding returns that validated the project in the first place.
So, what can customers do to ensure they are maximizing their time, money, and effort when it comes to using an ERP? Here are some suggestions based on experiences, lessons learned, and best practices accumulated over the thousands of successful projects managed by RKL teammates. We love acronyms in technology, so here’s a new one to remember, SOARING, to take your ERP experience above and beyond normal.
Stay current by leveraging the most recent release updates which include enhanced features, usability improvements, and new modules. Take the time to learn about new releases and explore how product enhancements could be applied to increase efficiency and productivity. Stay up-to-date on latest trends in technology that automate manual processes or apply artificial intelligence to augment daily activities.
Optimize the total solution. Customers frequently select ERP products because of its total impact across the organization. Invariably though, implementation projects are managed in phases to help prioritize and deploy mission critical tasks. After go-live, future phases that were a pre-sale priority get lost in the day-to-day routine which means the true project ROI envisioned is never realized. Revisit the total solution, future phases and underused capabilities to unleash product potential.
Automate manual tasks and replace spreadsheet work arounds. Businesses in every industry are looking for ways to automate manual tasks that free up precious human capital to focus on value-add activities like new sales and innovation. With the current labor shortages and stress on existing staff, automation is also generating significant ROI for companies that have needed to adapt to remain competitive and profitable. (reference our Summer Series of Automation landing page?)
Review current business processes, workflows, and operating procedures. We recommend periodic ‘health assessments’ of your ERP solution to unlock areas of improvement. Taking inventory of what’s working and not working helps identify opportunities to apply best practices accumulated from a collective user base across industries. Typical improvements could be as simple as changing a few keystrokes to access key information quickly or completely reimagining an operating procedure after becoming more familiar and comfortable with the solution capabilities.
Integrate connected solutions and enable common data sharing across applications to increase reporting visibility and improve analytical effectiveness. Centralized data eliminates mistakes by limiting assumptions of the unknown, empowers users to take action and aids the decision-making process by exposing the variables in complex environments. Today’s technology solutions are developed with connectivity in mind to help companies maximize best-of-breed scenarios.
Network with your peers and other users through social media, customer user groups and Sage events, along with Community Chat Boards within Sage portals. A diverse ecosystem exists for Sage users to ask questions, share ideas, recommend new features, and learn from other users. Establishing relationships within the user community keeps you connected to the pulse of user experiences.
Goals should be defined to establish what success looks like beyond go-live. What does the user interaction look like in the future? What technology can we leverage for competitive advantages? How will the organization realize its intended investment to add value? And most importantly how will you measure and define success? Establishing clear, definable metrics will help the organization determine the true impact and success of the project.
If you apply and commit these SOARING principles to your post go-live implementation project, you will increase the odds of a successful and rewarding solution experience for years to come. Statistics show that engaged and empowered users are happier with their solution and the implementation outcome than disengaged users. Like life in general, what you put into things factors into what you get out of them. ERP software is no different and deserves continuous attention to evolve with the advancement in technology and software enhancements.