Preparing Your Team for an ERP Implementation

Whether you are in the research phase, strongly considering ERP software, or just beginning your implementation journey, it is important to understand the end-to-end preparation needed for you and your team.

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Leah Sweeney

Introduction: What is Microsoft’s ERP Software?

If you are in the market for [business] IT Solutions, chances are you have come across Enterprise Resource Planning software, also known as ERP. ERP software boasts the ability to offer end to end technology solutions across all facets of your operation. In addition to its large array of business management capabilities, the software is also extremely configurable to the size of your organization. The variety of ERP products and options for scalability is impressive, leading it be a great choice whether you are a SMB (Small, Medium Business), or operate a large-scale enterprise.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Avantiico offers a wide range of consulting services to help you choose and implement the right Microsoft ERP Software to meet your organization’s needs.

Microsoft’s wide range of ERP Products include:

MS Ecosystem Cropped - ERP Solutions

Whether you are in the research phase, strongly considering ERP software, or just beginning your implementation journey, it is important to understand the end-to-end preparation needed for you and your team. During any ERP implementation, client success is the top priority, which is why Avantiico has put together this article to help you understand the significance of properly preparing your team. Not only will the importance be outlined, but we will cover what preparation is necessary at the various stages of implementation, and what can happen if the proper steps aren’t taken up front.

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6 Ways Preparation (or the lack thereof) Can Make or Break a Project

Preparing your team for an ERP implementation is a foundational concept that if not done properly, or to the necessary extent, can have detrimental impact on the success of your project. Below are just a few examples that address this reasoning and include some of the core concepts.

1. Client Project Readiness

If a company/team is not properly prepared at the very early stages of ERP consideration, it can compromise the very foundation of the project. This will often have a ripple effect and reduces the chances of a successful implementation from the beginning. We refer to this as “Client Readiness” and is an important concept to consider during the research and decision-making phase. If a team is not ready to move onto the next stages but does so anyways, there can be an increased risk of internal discord, costly overhead for additional make-up or preparation, delay in timelines and even a possibility of overall dissemination of the project early on. Furthermore, if key roles in an implementation are not properly defined early on, it can be detrimental to team readiness. 

2. Risk Mitigation

With proper team training and preparation, you reduce the risk of internal discord, frustration, and communication issues throughout your implementation. If these issues do arise, you pose a risk to the day-to-day operations that are often still running in the background. Depending on your industry, these internal issues can have damaging external effects.

3. Project Timeline

During any ERP implementation, having a properly scoped timeline and detailed schedule is essential to the overall management of the project. If a team does not have the training or preparation they need, there is risk to this project timeline. Delays, especially in the later stages can be unfavorable and costly – both to the client and partner. Conveying this can help team members understand their vital role in keeping the project on track.

4. User Adoption

If a company takes the proper time and consideration to prepare their team, this demonstrates and reiterates the company’s commitment to growth and improvement (a common theme in ERP implementations). With this common understanding, and display on behalf of the company, you will have increased adoption throughout your team, which is crucial at all stages of the implementation.

5. Stakeholder Empowerment

Proper preparation and training can also contribute to individuals feeling empowered and capable to do their job. Identifying the right stakeholders for an ERP project is crucial to the implementation’s success. If you can do this from the beginning, you lay a strong foundation and case for reassurance to your team that they will be provided with the necessary tools to do their job. This leads to increased adoption, as individuals feel more secure and comfortable with the coming changes.

Identify Stakeholders for an ERP Project

Learn more about how identify core stakeholders to prepare for your next ERP Project.

6. Exposing Requirements

Another important aspect to consider is knowledge transfer, and the importance of a fully scoped project. By properly preparing your team early on and training them to understand the core concepts of ERP, project outline, goals, and expectations, you help stimulate more meaningful conversations. These conversations facilitate higher quality knowledge transfer, and the ability to expose potential threats earlier on. However, if not done, the team is left to fill in the blanks themselves, increasing the risk of critical details being overlooked.

Initial Assessment of Team Preparedness & Client Readiness

In the initial stages of ERP consideration, assessing your internal team is a critical task. Some of the first components to consider are your current team size, structure, capabilities, and bandwidth to undertake a project as extensive as an ERP implementation. This assessment is a component of the “Client Readiness” aspect and important before committing to any project. If it is determined that the team/client is not ready to undertake the project scope, there may be additional time and resources spent to get them to project ready.

For the purpose of this article, we will be looking at necessary preparation steps throughout the following stages of an implementation

Preparing Your Team During the Initial Scoping and Project Planning Phase

Once a company has decided to move forward with an ERP implementation and is in contract with their selected Microsoft Partner, there are many steps that they can take to prepare their team for the changes coming as they proceed to lay the groundwork. Change can be difficult for anyone in your business, which is why a proper change management strategy coupled with the necessary preparation activities is vital.  

  1. Communicate the initial scope of the project to the entire company. Let them know the company is in the process of beginning an ERP implementation, and important details to look out for as there is further progress and development.
  2. Determine an internal lead and outline their scope of responsibilities. By doing this, you are identifying a potential resource and common contact point, which will help facilitate a channel of communication as internal buzz begins. Ask them to create an efficient process for feedback, questions, and concerns as the project gets underway.
  3. Create Awareness. As the company engages in more scoping and project planning, communicate that information to your staff. Examples of information to include:
    • Include more about ERP, what exactly is it? This will be new to many people and providing a comprehensive outline upfront can be helpful.
    • What is the need for this software? What challenges and bottlenecks are we hoping to address? What efficiencies are we hoping to gain? Include goals and intended outcome. Vision for post go-live.
    • Outline what software solutions are being implemented, and why. This will give individuals an opportunity to do their own research and gain a perspective before internal efforts begin.
    • What departments will be impacted? Because ERP software is so robust, there is a chance that it won’t be fully utilized, leaving out some departments. However, it is important that everyone in the organization know who will be impacted, as there may be increased workloads and shifting responsibilities.
    • Provide additional resources and information for internal research.
  4. Lay the groundwork for expectations during the implementation. Defining the project scope and following with the appropriate expectations and areas of accountability early on will play a significant role in team preparation. People must be on board with the tasks at hand and effort needed for a successful outcome. There must be adoption early on, with commitment to a common vision and end-goal.
  5. Determine Initial Training Scope & Methodology. When preparing your team for an implementation, it is also important to outline the initial training plan and proposed methodology. Your team will want to see that you are thinking ahead and have a plan to put in place. It enforces structure and foundation at the beginning of what could be a huge project. This will help reduce stress and anxiety around the implementation, increasing chances of adoption and buy in.

Preparing Your Team for the ERP Implementation

As the project undergoes further scoping, more decisions are finalized, and an in-depth plan agreed upon, implementation efforts can begin. This stage will be more hands on with individuals throughout various departments and will include more opportunities for team preparation.

  1. Department Tasks, Responsibilities, and Goals – Clearly outline and discuss each of these more precisely.
    1. Breakdown department tasks by a daily, weekly, or monthly cadence.
    2. Identify sprints. Prepare them to anticipate and embrace the sprints.
    3. How does each task and responsibility relate to the bigger picture? What is the tie to goal setting and the end vision?
  2. Company Goals – Now that the project has a more defined plan, outline the exact goals of the company, and communicate these to everyone. Express how your department goals tie to the bigger picture.
    1. Reiterate these goals and prepare people to use these as the driving force of this project. Use the goals to inspire and affirm implementation efforts.
    2. Make sure individuals can speak to these company goals and are using them to create a common understanding.
  3. Clearly Define the Overall Timeline of the Project – Tie this timeline back to the department and company goals.
    1. Prepare your team to embrace the project timeline and use it as a driving force for progress tracking.
    2. Reiterate the necessity of sticking to the project timeline, and the implications of delays. Within an ERP implementation, there are critical tasks that have prior dependencies, and if not done in time, could be a halting factor for any additional development or progress. This can help frame their perspective and prepare them to pay strong attention to time management.

Preparing Your Team for Implementation Day (Go-Live)

The actual ERP implementation deployment is commonly referred to as “go-live” and presents many opportunities for preparation to ensure a smooth and successful first day and week.

  1. Make sure everyone knows their roles and tasks for go-live. Throughout this process, several of your team members and various departments have most likely been cross trained. Ensure everyone has a good understanding of their exact responsibilities for when the day comes.
  2. Create a method for shadowing and observation. Allowing individuals to observe the process in its entirety can increase overall understanding.
  3. Schedule time to touch base with teams and individuals, both at the beginning and end of the day. Get your team excited for go-live and help them embrace their new responsibilities and workflow. Periodic check-ins allow time for reflection and discussion on overall initial experiences, questions, and concerns.
  4. Create a plan for addressing and handling unforeseen issues that may arise. Be proactive and have a plan to demonstrate to your team. [Mitigate risk around these unforeseen issues to ensure they are not show stopping]

Preparing Your Team for Post Go-Live and Stabilization Phase

Once your company has successfully completed the “go-live” requirements, and you have a fully functional ERP system, you will want to communicate the support strategy for any needs that may arise. You should prepare your team to understand the scope of the post go-live support, and what components will be internal versus external (handled by your Microsoft Partner).

The post go-live strategy and stabilization phase should prepare your team to work and problem solve as independently (internally) as possible, within their scope of relevant tasks and responsibilities. Train them to think about growing internal knowledge and being as self-sustaining as possible. In preparing for this, you will also need to make sure the proper set of documents and resources have been outlined and made accessible. By preparing your team with an effective support strategy, and relaying the expectations, you reduce the fear and anxiety around post go-live operations. This method can help promote a mixture of teamwork, collaborative thinking, and independent problem-solving. It will also reassuring your team that there are procedures in place and lines of communication available should they be needed.

Team Preparation Cannot be Overlooked or Underestimated

No matter what stage of ERP implementation you are at, team preparedness is a necessary component to success. The earlier this preparation plan is able to be scoped and implemented, the better, as there is a high risk of compounding negative effects if not done early on.

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