When you decide that it's time to review your management system, it's essential to appoint a project manager, to put together a project team in-house to integrate an ERP, and to roll out the following process:
1. Before you start
Many questions will arise:
Should we draft specifications? What is the budget? What kind of solutions are we looking for? A specific solution or a market solution? Best of breed (a solution for each department with interfaces to make it all work) or an integrated management approach? A general ERP or a business-focused ERP? When does the new solution need to be operational? Do we want to invest (acquisition of licences) or incur costs (SAAS subscription)? Will the solution will be installed on site or hosted elsewhere?
The questions you need to ask yourself:
How can a business plan be derived from it? What are the weak or pain points that the new system should solve? What tools do we need to support the evolution of our business model and/or our growth in France and/or internationally?
Do we have a clear, formalised vision of our target management processes? How will we migrate the data from our current management system to transfer it to the new one? Who will do what in the future system?
2. So which project team?
You must put together a well-led, representative, multidisciplinary team:
A project director: Administrative and Financial Manager or CEO. A project manager: an (external) IT project support manager, management auditor or member of staff with expert knowledge of the technical and functional aspects of the business.
Departmental representatives - one per department (e.g. marketing, sales, sales administration, purchasing, accounting, etc.)
Using heads of departments as representatives should be avoided. Let operational staff have their say, because they are the ones who will be using the future solution every day!
3. Draft the specifications
Don't try to pull the wool over our eyes, specifications are essential. You must describe your management processes and functional needs department by department, being as precise as possible about the subjects perceived as critical to your organisation. Try to formalise the test scenarios for each process. This will help you validate the functional completeness of the solutions studied, and once the choice is made, to organise scoping study days under the best economic conditions.
4. Provide leadership to make the right choice
Whether for the drafting of specifications, selection of software publishers or steering the collective decision-making process (selection of publishers, organisation of demonstrations, selection of finalists on the basis of an assessment checklist, etc.), it is advisable to use a specialist external consultant. Why?
Because often you just don't have the time! Your business is your priority. Moreover, they will know the market and should save you some time in identifying the right candidates.
In your selection criteria, don't forget to assess the 'Human' factor and the quality of the after-sales service of your future 'management' partner. Apart from the qualities and defects of the product that you're going to choose, do you really want to work with this service provider for the next five years?
5. Manage the implementation
Once the choice is made, it's time to implement the chosen management platform using an immutable process: scoping study, configuration, data migration, training, provisional acceptance (operational readiness testing), production launch and final acceptance (regular service verification).
The in-house project team, made up of future user representatives, will be strongly involved in all phases throughout the project, i.e. for an average of 6 to 12 months. The management of the company will be regularly involved in steering committees to arbitrate and validate operational and financial decisions.
The integrator is responsible for prime contracting and you will be responsible for contracting authority. Again, it is advisable to outsource the management of contracting authority.
Keep a close eye on the management of change and data migration.
6. Manage the use and adapt the ERP system
The initial deployment is complete. Don't disband the project team. As part of a continuous improvement process, the user representatives who make up the team must be aware of users' needs, assist them in the use of the software and provide solutions to make them as efficient as possible: training, adaptation of the configuration, requesting the publisher to make modifications.