What Does A Software Implementation Have In Common With Flag Day?
On this day in 1777, the United States adopted the American flag. Adopting a new flag can be a lot like adopting a new ERP system. For the U.S., the stakes were high to create the right symbol to represent the newly found nation. Similarly, the stakes are high for your business when adopting a new ERP system. Likewise, a lot of decisions need to be made to ensure that your ERP system “represents” your organization.
Any successful adoption process comes with lots of planning and tweaking to make sure it’s a perfect fit. A new ERP system can present a steep learning curve for employees if there are major organizational process changes. You might get a headache just thinking about learning curves and new processes, but if your ERP system implementation is handled well, you’ll be fine. You and your team will be left with a robust and efficient system that will save money and time for years to come.
Here are six easy tips to help your business when adopting a new ERP system…
1. Get Your Staff Involved Early On
This is easily the #1 most important step in a software adoption process. Your end users are your greatest asset when planning an ERP implementation. Involve all employees who will deal with the ERP system from the get-go. This might include business owners, managers and accounts payable clerks, just to name a few.
When certain decision makers proceed with a new ERP system without input from the end users, you risk missing out on valuable information that is key to developing your perfect ERP system. Alternatively, if you concentrate on only the end user, with little input from your management team, you can miss the overarching values that the company is trying to promote.
Plan a few meetings for all your users, managers and owners before you customize or put the system into use. Ask for everyone’s “wish list” and request that they define exactly what they want the software to do for them. Involving all parties from the beginning can help you plan a solution that works well for all.
2. Don’t Be Cheap
There are a lot of things you can be cheap on, but like the American flag, you can’t cheap out on your ERP system. It can seriously cost you later on.
Much like cheap tools, auto parts and furniture, skimping on an ERP system can be detrimental to something that is so key to the success of your business. What happens when you put effort into a cheap system? You can end up with a provider that doesn’t support you, an ERP system that doesn’t work 100% for you, or worse, an ERP system that didn’t get implemented properly and gives you endless problems.
Unless you plan on changing your ERP system frequently (we can’t imagine why anyone would), it’s better to spend the time and money to make sure your system is running efficiently and smoothly.
3. Reward Your Superstar Staff Members
When employees don’t resist new technology it makes the adoption process short and sweet. Create incentives for your staff to go along with the new ERP system adoption. This can include rewards for training or time spent teaching other staff members a new process. When staff have something to look forward to, they’ll be more inclined to jump in and get on the same page. For the United States, the quick adoption was rewarded with respect from peers and money in some cases. Fun fact: Captain Abraham Swartwout was paid by Congress for his coat that he tore up to make an American flag on August 3, 1777!
4. Penalize Staff Members Who Refuse To Adopt the New System
Adoption can be a long, tenuous process if you have problem employees who refuse to embrace the new system. While we always advocate transparency, we will on occasion see staff members who refuse to accept technology changes. This causes unnecessary stress for management and coworkers.
While it’s easy to ignore one curmudgeonly staff member, if the problem isn’t handled, there could be more staff who feel justified in refusing adoption. Penalizing specific troublemakers will force them to adapt and allow you to build a culture of acceptance. You can imagine what would happen to someone who rejected the new American flag in 1777…
5. Be Open To Suggestions From Staff
Just like the flag, there will be tweaks made along the way to make your new ERP implementation perfect. Before you build a laundry list of items in your first week, listen up: you need to wait until the software is familiar to your employees. Some complaints could be from people stuck in their old ways or those who are simply unfamiliar with the new software. Taking those complaints to your software vendor right after the implementation could cost you money with extra, and sometimes unnecessary, software customizations.
Get your new ERP system functional and then create a date for a staff feedback session a month or two after the implementation. This gives staff enough time to familiarize themselves with the software and come up with fresh ideas for what they’d like to see. Make sure you pull in end users, management and owners so you get the full scope of feedback.
6. Create A Plan For Overcoming Roadblocks
The natural reaction for an employee who hits a road block is to go back to what they know or to improvise. This can break a new system in some cases and take a lot of time to fix if user errors go unnoticed. Tell your users where to go for software support and make sure they know where to direct questions. This could be having employees contacting their supervisors for questions or adding their question to a central document that gets sent off to your software consultants.
Whether you’re implementing a new ERP system or creating a new flag, it’s certain to be a challenge, but in the end you’ll get something you’re proud of.
Gross Mendelsohn’s Technology Solutions Group has helped countless organizations plan for and implement new ERP systems. If you have any questions or need help getting your staff on board with your new accounting software, contact us here or call us at 410.685.5512.
About Sharon Paul
Helping clients use technology to solve tough business issues is what drives Sharon. If she can save a business valuable time by automating a procedure or process, or help them use technology to produce useful information for decision-making, then Sharon feels that she’s done her job. Sharon specializes in NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics GP and Sage 300Cloud ERP systems. In her spare time, she loves to cook and will gladly swap recipes with you.