There are a thousand different sayings highlighting how much you can learn by looking at the past experiences of similar people. This is especially true when it comes to evaluating whether ERP is right for your company and what to expect once it’s implemented.
Until you start working with ERP products on a daily basis, it’s hard to understand how much it will affect what you do. And it’s only really after a product has been implemented that you fully understand its strengths and weaknesses. That’s why ERP case studies can be so illuminating and illustrative.
Every case study offers a different nugget of wisdom to take away. But when you begin to review a lot of them, there are some important lessons about what you should and should not do that repeatedly appear. Here are the six lessons that jump out:
- An ERP Demo is Essential – For a variety of reasons, some companies are so eager to get an ERP up and running that they forego getting a demo before selecting a product. In most cases, this leads to surprises and disappointments in equal measure. The companies that prioritize the demo process end up with a product that is better able to meet their business requirements over the long term.
- Implementation is Everything – The long-term success or failure of your ERP product is directly related to the quality of the implementation. Companies that try to rush through the process, manage it on a shoestring budget, or accept out-of-the-box capabilities all end up regretting it. Expediency is important in an implementation, but a careful, considered process eliminates a lot of significant setbacks later.
- The Cloud is the Ideal Option – The debate over on-site vs. cloud ERP products still rages in some circles, but anecdotal evidence from ERP case studies reveals that the cloud is the clearly superior choice. The vast majority of companies will not want to take on the expense, burden, and frustration of on-site ERP. Plus, the flexibility of the cloud provides ERP with the kind of scalability and adaptability that dynamic enterprises require.
- Customization is Key – One of the most beneficial things about consulting ERP case studies is learning about the kinds of ERP issues that cause the worst and most persistent problems. In most cases, those problems boil down to an ERP product being unable to adapt to a company’s data and workflows. The lesson that gets reinforced over and over is that ERP should adapt to the company, not the other way around.
- Choice of Vendor Matters – The specifics of an ERP product are usually the focus on the evaluation process. But in practice, the quality of the vendor has as much of an impact as the product itself. Companies who work with a vendor that is committed to service and technology improvements find themselves in a better position to take advantage of all that ERP offers.
- Buy-in Is Essential – So much effort goes into finding the ideal product/vendor. But even with the best product in place, a team that is unable or unwilling to embrace ERP will get little from your expensive new piece of IT. Securing buy-in from upper management down is important before the implementation even starts. Once it does, comprehensive and ongoing training is essential if teams are going to use ERP completely and creatively.
The overarching lesson of all ERP case studies is that this enterprise-application has a lot to offer, but only for the companies that approach it carefully and cautiously. As you get closer to an implementation of your own, rely on the real experiences of others to guide your decision-making process.