In this post, we’re going to take a look at what you should expect when your company begins the process of implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. The reasons for doing so can include:
- The company operations have grown to the point where a more robust product is necessary to sustain said growth, or keep up with current needs at scale
- Supply chain, inventory, and production complexities introduce more challenges than a spreadsheet or basic product can handle
- You’ve grown tired of manual tasks and would like to introduce automation to increase efficiency
So, with that being said, let’s dive into how the next steps might look for your team.
How it works
Asking how an ERP implementation works comes down to several factors, mostly relating to the size and complexity of your operations, your production and inventory catalogs, and the specialized requirements necessary for your business to run successfully. These will influence the length and scope of onboarding and implementation processes.
The process itself is only a few steps:
- Gathering relevant data
- Figuring out daily workflow for using the new system
- Training for you and your team
- Connecting any integrations
- Implementing the new system
Timelines and Important Steps
Timeline is dependent on the schedules of the ERP specialists helping you during the process, but more importantly the timeline is dependent on you! Factors that affect the timeline may include: how “clean” your data is, how much time you are willing to spend implementing per day/week, how much time you are willing to practice what you learn, what your current workflow looks like, if you willing to adapt your process, and are you meeting deadlines.
How you go about setting up your account and what that looks like is dependent on the ERP system you choose. Some systems are more hands-on during the setup process to provide guidance, advice, and assistance while others take a more lenient approach and leave the setup completely to the end users.
Depending on the scope of your existing workflows, there will be a large focus on the data necessary for it’s success and integrating what you already use. For example, during the implementation phase with Wherefour, we’ll pay close attention to how your data needs to be structured, and also on integrating in the accounting, ecommerce, or other systems that are already critical to your business. Making sure that everything is linked and flowing properly right from the start is paramount to the success of bringing in an ERP for the first time (or any time).
The training for ERP systems vary widely depending on which system you choose. It could range from a few help articles and videos to having a dedicated team train you and your staff on site. Most ERP systems land somewhere in the middle with a variety of training resources, materials, and one-on-one virtual meetings.
Small – Mid
Most cloud-based ERPs supporting small to mid sized customers, or non-enterprise, will primarily rely on help articles and video walkthroughs of their products and setting up workflows, without live sessions or one-on-one support. For questions or issues, customers will submit these through a ticketing system. For these solutions, the expected setup and training timeline would usually be around 3 – 6 months, if there are team members dedicated to it for a significant amount of their time. Much of the setup work is the responsibility of the customer.
Large / Enterprise
For enterprise-level systems, the implementation can be quite large, and require a much more hands on approach. These solutions will typically take at least a year to implement, and will involve dedicated teams for setup. These may be in person installations for on-premise setups as well as in person training. Training is usually extensive, with courses in their training suites ranging from 1-2 to 80+ hours, expected to be completed over the course of a year.
Here at Wherefour, we’re proud to land in the middle by providing the right level of enterprise level implementation and training, with a mix of self serve as well to lessen the time and requirements to get started. Our customers have their own full time priorities, and can’t realistically expect to drop everything for us for an extended period of time. That’s why we typically suggest 2-4 hours per week of work over the course of 8-16 weeks, which includes a mix of live training courses and one-on-one meetings.
So, most importantly, companies want to know what to expect from this sort of process in terms of results and return on the investment.
Inventory and Labor Cost Savings
By optimizing and automating operations, businesses can achieve significant reductions in cost for their inventory and labor spend. For Wherefour customers, this can usually be as much as 25%.
Scalable Traceability and Documentation Processes
By implementing an ERP system for the first time, many companies are transitioning from highly manual processes, such as spreadsheets. This alone will unlock much greater efficiencies and scalability for their operations, leaving the time and resources to be put to better use. The right system that is a good fit at first should also be able to grow with your company, scaling alongside your operations.
In the long run, this scalability also applies to the traceability and documentation requirements that your production needs. With much of this running on autopilot, it’s one more headache that can be relieved for growing businesses.
Audit Success and Recall Confidence
Compliance and traceability needs in many industries are only increasing. Audits or recalls can be extremely stressful, so systems that can remove the need for large amounts of paperwork can help. Successful ERP implementations can greatly reduce the impact of these events, letting businesses get back to just that. Business.
Bringing in your first ERP system can be somewhat daunting, but with the right fit, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. The benefits that come with such a product can be substantial, and definitely worth the investment of time, money, and effort.
Stay tuned for the next installments in our series about ERP’s, and how they can be helpful for growing businesses. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about how Wherefour might be able to help, reach out! You can book a meeting through the chat window on this page, or visit our contact page here.