The Importance of Correctly Implementing an ERP System

In 2016 Gartner Research estimated that between 55 and 75 per cent of all ERP implementation projects fall short, with key reasons for failure including under-estimating required resources, customisation, insufficient user training and inadequate testing. 
 
Here, Malcolm Garbett, head of business systems at power resistor manufacturer Cressall, explains the importance of correctly integrating an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system into a company’s existing infrastructure. 
 
CRE Malcolm Garbett ERP and business systems managerCressall has been using EFACS ERP since the late 1990s. The system is a fully-featured modular system covering all key business activities including engineering, purchasing, sales, finance, manufacturing and planning with MRP and CRP applications.  The browser-based system, sitting on a modern SQL Server database, has been extensively customised for our needs using the built-in toolkit, allowing for production and rapid deployment of bespoke reports, forms and process automation workflows.
 
Upgrading your ERP system
Upgrading an ERP system is a task that should not be taken lightly. While the process can be smooth if completed correctly, it can take a considerable amount of time to roll out, depending on the size of the business.
 
Cressall’s last ERP system upgrade took place in 2016 and was delivered in the same way we deliver all our internal projects. The first step involved the evaluation of our current system and what it did, or more importantly didn’t do.
 
Having identified the additional functionality that our business required, we then went about researching alternatives as although the incumbent software vendor will usually have advantages, due diligence demands that other options are considered.
 
Once a system has been selected, it then needs installing. It is important that the software is deployed on a test server to begin with. This allows any initial errors to be identified without impacting on production or the running of the business. This also ensures that the core implementation team can develop its knowledge of the system, before carrying out training across the rest of the company.
 
At Cressall, we hosted a series of workshops for staff to deliver the appropriate training. This training should not be a one-off occurrence, but rather a continuous process that ensures all staff are kept up to date with both major and minor updates.  
 
However, once the initial training has taken place, installation on the main system can go ahead. To minimise downtime, we conducted the installation over a weekend and the new system went live with no glitches. From initial research to implementation, the entire process took six months.
 
Assessing the benefits
There are countless advantages to implementing an effective ERP software solution, many of which are not visible to the customer. However, the customer does benefit – significantly.
 
By integrating every division of a business, an ERP system can eliminate redundant processes and tasks through automation, drastically improving productivity. This level of automation also streamlines the processes that remain – improving efficiency across all business operations. Rolling the system out across the entire company encourages interdepartmental collaboration, with teams working from a centralized data point.
 
An ERP system puts everything at your fingertips, and anyone with access can provide faster, more accurate information to the customer about their orders and products.
 
A failed installation of a new or upgraded ERP system will have serious ramifications on business operations. The decision should not be rushed and plenty of time should be set aside for training and development, if it is to truly benefit the business.
 
Here at Cressall, with planning, preparation and a lot of hard work from all concerned, we got it right first time.

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