8 Keys Factors to A Successful ERP Upgrade Project

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November, 2021

ERP updates are an unavoidable fact of life, whether you like them or despise them.

Nowadays, they are frequently used as a vehicle for digital transformation, which opens the door to new business lines while dramatically improving the user experience and increasing productivity.

However, if an ERP upgrade is not handled correctly, it might jeopardise company continuity by interfering with your crucial business processes.

The ERP update process necessitates informed decision-making and the development of a comprehensive project strategy for these and other reasons.

Reasons to upgrade your ERP

Another incentive to upgrade to the most recent version of your ERP system is to make use of the following features:

Access to a more up-to-date enterprise resource planning system. Technology becomes obsolete within a short period after it is introduced. If your firm still relies on outdated technology, you're likely missing valuable data insights that might help your organisation stay competitive.

If you're using an SAP system and have a lot of customised business processes, it'll be easier to manage them if you're on the latest version of the system.

There will be no staff retraining. So you won't have to retrain end-users as you would if you switched from, for example, an SAP company to an Oracle shop.

Vendor assistance is available. You don't want to get left out from upgrades since, at some time, the software manufacturer will discontinue supporting earlier versions of the product.

ERP upgrade checklist

Regardless of the reasons, updating a mission-critical system such as ERP is a substantial operation that needs much planning and expertise. Here are some suggestions that you can try to ensure your ERP upgrade runs smoothly.

  1. Obtain executive support.

    Enterprise resource planning (ERP) upgrades require the understanding and promotion of the value message by senior executives, such as the CEO or CFO, as they're the ones who need to be persuaded because it's their signature that will ultimately be on everything. 

  2. Identify the issues that are causing you problems and develop standards.

    Look into if there are any bottlenecks or other problems that are directly tied to the ERP software. It might be caused by various factors, including the financial closure, insufficient data integration, and limited user uptake, to mention just a few.

  3. Involve frontline users in the process.

    Include frontline users of your business in the process from the beginning.

    Firms frequently introduce a new system to workers and expect long-standing business processes and practices to automatically adapt to the new system. 

    However, this is a significant risk and is unlikely to result in a positive outcome.

    Before implementing the ERP update, it is essential to learn about, record, and understand the processes that may be impacted. For example, if staff are accustomed to running a specific report each day, will they be able to do so in the future?

    The simplest day-to-day chores that form part of the continuous operation should be considered, and this can only be accomplished by incorporating personnel at all levels.

  4. Identify and fill up the gaps

    One of the first steps is to discover the flaws in the system because every system contains defects or faults.

    Go into the situation with your eyes wide open. First, determine a discrepancy between your requirements and what the program can and cannot perform.

    Either you or a third-party system may fix such issues, or you can choose to adopt the program to match your requirements. Alternatively, you may opt to impose changes to your business to accommodate any software constraints that may exist.

    Whatever the answer, you want to discover gaps as early as possible so that you can plan ahead of time and have a realistic picture of how long the ERP update will take, how much it will cost, and how the system will appear when you get there.

  5. Create a realistic plan for putting the plan into action.

    You should comprehend the actual nature of the ERP update project and recognise that it will most likely not be as straightforward as an IT infrastructure upgrade.

    According to experts, it's more about making a significant change to your fundamental business processes and your people — the two things that will require the most time and money — than it is about changing your technology.

    To have a realistic implementation, it is necessary to "sanitise" what the software vendor is offering, which may be based on a perfect-world scenario. 

    You must use your own beliefs about what reality looks like and adjust the strategy to what will best satisfy your own requirements and objectives. Having a sound implementation plan and strategy in place is a critical component in achieving this.

  6. Be prepared to deal with data mapping.

    Although data mapping differs from vendor to vendor. Most of the labour lies on the shoulders of the implementing organisation instead of the vendor or systems integrator.

    Frequently, the vendor will state, "All right, here's what the tables in our new system look like." So now you have to figure out how you're translating your old data to this new data.

    "Okay, we'll help you map it to the new system, but we're not going to assist you in clearing up your old data."

    This is because suppliers are more concerned with the data included inside their own systems than with the data contained within other systems."

  7. Keep an eye on scope creep.

    A $1 million ERP update project might quickly balloon to a $2 million expenditure if new requirements are introduced during development and implementation. 

    So ensure that the initial requirements agreement is rock solid, and develop a change management plan to deal with requests for changes, including how many are permitted, who is authorised to make them, and how they affect the project's implementation costs and delivery date.

  8. Educate and train those who will be using

    The goal is to educate your users rather than simply instruct them. Thus, while it is still necessary to train individuals on utilising specific functionalities, it is also essential to educate them on what they are doing and why they would be interested in taking advantage of the new capability.

    To learn more about ERP upgrades, feel free to connect with us.