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  • Writer's pictureJohn Hannan

What Are the 5 Major Steps in the ERP Implementation?

ERP software, when implemented correctly, can help solve several problems for businesses of all sizes and industries, from boosting your company's efficiency to helping you work more effectively with customers and suppliers. However, implementing ERP takes time and careful planning – it's not something you want to rush into without thinking through all the steps involved in the implementation process first. We've created this handy step-by-step guide to implementing ERP solutions.


What Is ERP Implementation?

An ERP implementation entails installing and setting up ERP software, migrating data from your previous system into the new one, and providing training on how to use it effectively.

This is considered an organizational change management process as it pertains to all aspects - including approach preparation, support, and helping key stakeholders make changes to improve organization effectiveness.


In this context, pre-deployment or feasibility studies are carried out, including understanding customer requirements versus industry best practices. Project management defines the project scope, which includes scheduling tasks alongside deadlines while achieving these milestones throughout a deployment period. Once complete, an effective team will focus on configuring the actual system.


Moreover, Some ERP implementations are almost fully functional out of the box, requiring little to no customization and no need for any add-ons. If your business needs a variety of applications or handles multiple entities, you'll need a phased rollout and more oversight from your implementation team.


Steps to ERP Implementation

ERP implementation can be broken down into five key steps:

  • Installation

  • Configuration

  • Customization

  • Data Conversion

  • Integration

Some steps may occur simultaneously, but for the most part, each step will be followed sequentially. It is important to remember that some processes - such as consultation and training - cannot occur until installation is completed.


Installation

The first step to an ERP implementation is installation. Putting the increasingly popular Cloud ERP systems aside for a minute, once a company has decided which software they want to use, it is necessary to install that software onto the computer hardware and the system. The next step is supporting organizational change. Training is required for all employees with access to the software to ensure that employees can take full advantage of an organization's new software. Depending on your organization's needs and capabilities, this may be handled through a classroom setting or a series of online modules. Training for any new processes introduced by the new software needs to be formalized so that there's no question about how things should work once it's up and running.


Cloud ERP systems, which are the majority of small-to-mid-market ERP implementations, don’t have the same hardware and install requirements, but there is still this step to spin up virtual servers, enable logins, activate subscriptions, and so on.


Configuration

Configuration is customizing your software for your precise security needs, workflows, and personal preferences. An example of configuring your software for security purposes would be assigning varying access levels according to an employee's position in the company and their duties therein.


The second form of configuring your software is making it compatible with how you want things done. This can often take a significant amount of time to accomplish - such as inputting company data, designing currencies and exchange rates, defining chart of accounts details and inventory levels, setting up banking integrations, etcetera, all before fully completing one single system configuration.


Customization

Customization is when someone augments or alters the underlying software code. Customizing for ERP software tends to be more limited than other software systems because most ERP software providers don't allow customizations unless they are open-source programs. You may hear the words enhancements or extensions. For the purposes of phasing an ERP implementation, these are all part of this process. If standard settings and configurations don't meet requirements, investments in customizing can be worth it.


Data Conversion

This is a process of transforming data from one format to another. This includes converting data from legacy systems into your new ERP systems. It starts by mapping out all the source files and then moves on to exporting data to create extraction files that can be used for loading into the ERP. Data conversion also includes consolidating outdated legacy application information into a standard table structure (think “templates”) to be loaded into the ERP system.


Integration

Integration establishes how your new software will interact with or behave alongside your existing software systems. For example, if you maintain legacy CRM software while implementing new ERP software, businesses should want customer data changes made within the CRM to be reflected in the ERP system. For real-time integration, this means that changes in one system are mirrored immediately into another thanks to a shared database or API (Application Programming Interface).


Once these 5 steps are done, the project team puts them all together into a deployment or cutover plan and rolls out the ERP as the new system of record for the business. A period of support from the team who was the most involved in the processes above is necessary for the new users as the company begins to operate on the software.


Let Us Help You Transition

Supporting organizational change is a key factor that must be addressed when implementing an ERP system. Implementing an ERP system will take time to complete as it will require training and preparation for all staff members.


During this process, one of the most important steps is ensuring you clearly understand how your current business operates and how it will operate after the implementation. That said, Comment with questions on ERP implementation that you may have. And our team will do our best to answer them and help you understand the whole ERP transition.

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