Does the process of implementing an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system have to be tedious and time-consuming? How to prepare for it and what to take care of for the implementation to be successful and bring the expected results? See how the ERP system implementation should look like step by step.

How to choose an ERP system and an implementation partner?

The first step is choosing the right ERP system. The number of solutions available on the market can be overwhelming. However, your choices don't end there—knowing which solution you will implement in your company, it's worth considering the selection of a suitable implementation partner. Let's start with the fact that not every software available on the market labeled as "ERP system" meets the requirements for such solutions. An ERP system should be comprehensive and meet all the needs of the company: from inventory management, production, and distribution, through sales and marketing, to finance. The modular structure is important, allowing the tool to be adjusted to current needs and developed as the company grows. The availability of third-party extensions or the software's susceptibility to modifications can increase the ERP system's flexibility. Another significant element is the ease of integration with external tools and systems—e.g., CRM solutions. However, even the best system will not help if it is not correctly chosen for the company's needs, and mistakes are made during the implementation. Therefore, choosing the right partner is crucial. It is best to choose one who understands the business processes in your industry, knows its needs and challenges, and knows how to meet them. A good implementation partner is one who educates their clients and points them in the right direction. Many entrepreneurs believe that a new ERP system should be perfectly tailored to the company's needs. This unnecessarily complicates the implementation process, extending its duration and increasing the price. Often, it turns out that it is much easier to adapt the company and its processes to the system rather than the other way around.

How does ERP system implementation proceed?

Let's assume that you have already chosen the ERP system and partner and are proceeding with the implementation process. How should it look? First, it's worth noting that not all implementations are the same. Each project should be approached individually, considering the client company's specifics and the industry in which it operates. Generally, a well-conducted ERP system implementation process can be divided into six stages:

  • Diagnosis: the ERP software implementation should begin by checking the client's needs. At this stage, the partner must learn about the business goals of the company and expectations towards the new tool. The collected information allows for the selection of solutions that will help meet these needs. This is also the moment for preparing the offer and the projected cost estimation.
  • The next step is detailed pre-implementation analysis. The requirements defined at the beginning need to be specified. A detailed work schedule is also created.
  • It's time to proceed with designing the implementation process. We determine how to seamlessly implement individual solutions in the system. The result of this stage is a detailed implementation plan.
  • Once the implementation project is ready, we move on to building the solution. We create interfaces, develop data migration processes, configure the system, and check its operation in a test environment.
  • It's time for the implementation, i.e., transferring processes to the new system according to previous assumptions. The final stage includes final tests and training for future software users.
  • The implementation does not end with the system launch. Equally important is user support in terms of system operation, its development, and possible repairs.

The specifics of each ERP system implementation stage depend on many factors, such as the number of necessary modifications or the processes and data to be transferred. These also affect the costs and duration of the implementation, which we discuss below.

What are the costs of ERP implementation?

It is impossible to give a straightforward answer regarding the costs of ERP implementation. The first variable to consider is obviously the price of the system itself and the number and type of required licenses. License prices should be available on the websites of ERP software producers and implementation partners. The final amount is also influenced by the amount of data and processes that need to be transferred to the new system. Every required modification and added extension will affect the final cost of the implementation process. Therefore, precise estimation is made based on information collected during the client's needs analysis stage, after selecting the appropriate solutions.

How long does ERP implementation take?

The duration of the implementation project also depends on many factors determined by the specific needs of the company. These factors are very similar to those affecting the price. Simple implementation projects that do not require modifications can be completed in as little as five weeks. In such cases, selected system modules are implemented, enhanced with ready-made functional extensions. However, we do not create individual modifications that need to be designed from scratch. This approach allows for the quick launch of a fully functional system, which can then be freely expanded and adjusted to the needs of the enterprise. As mentioned earlier, often there is no need for such adjustments—the standard functionalities are fully sufficient. However, if individual modifications are necessary, the implementation process can significantly extend. Everything depends on the number of necessary modifications and their complexity—the project's duration can range from several to even several months.

Good implementation practices

When embarking on the implementation of a new ERP system, it is worth remembering a few important issues. They can significantly speed up and simplify the implementation process and help avoid many complications:

  • Prepare people for change. Introducing new processes often meets resistance from employees. They do not want to learn new tools and change long-standing habits. Explain to your employees why you are introducing a new system and what benefits it will bring them. Also, involve them in all stages of the project—learn about their expectations and determine whether the new tools can meet them. Collect feedback from different departments and consider employees' opinions during the implementation. The success of the new system depends on the employees.
  • Opt for simplicity. We repeat once again—unnecessary complications are the shortest path to failure.
  • Determine who will be responsible for the project on your company's side. Engaging too many people without specifying your expectations can dilute responsibility. However, if it rests on specific individuals, the chances of success are greater. Verify the implementation partner. The success of the project depends not only on you and your employees but also on the company you will work with.
  • Therefore, it is worth spending an adequate amount of time and conducting thorough research when choosing an implementation partner. Does the project team have experience in implementations for companies in your industry? What responsibilities will be on the provider's side and what on the client's side? Does the planned implementation course include all necessary stages? Choosing a partner involves many considerations, which can determine the success of the project.

Implementing an ERP system does not have to be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Just consider the factors described above, and the entire ERP implementation process in the company will proceed smoothly and bring the expected results.