Over the last month, we have been looking at the different kinds of important questions that need to be asked when commencing an ERP implementation project.

Firstly, we looked at the questions a new ERP partner should ask you. Then we concentrated on the ten questions you need to ask a potential ERP partner.

In this blog, we turn our attention to the important questions you need to ask yourself, as a business, when starting out on the ERP project. Taking the time to have a serious and honest look at what you want to get out of your project and what you need from your project partner will put you on the right path to success.

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1. Which ERP partner fits our company best?

Choosing the right implementation partner is the first step to a successful ERP project. They will effectively become part of your business, right from implementation and through to ongoing support. It is, therefore, very important that you pick the partner that is not only trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced, but also has the same business values as you.

2. What are your goals and objectives with this ERP project?

It is very important at the beginning of any ERP project, long before the actual implementation go-live date, to be clear on what your goal is with this ERP project. Is it to modernise your ERP system? Is it to save money? Is it to give you better clarity on your business information and data?

Once your goal is in place, you can set some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) business objectives. Having SMART objectives will give you a way for you to measure the success of your project.

3. Do we need an industry specific ERP?

A generic ERP system is a general software solution that offers a wide range of functionality for companies across various industries. These systems typically address accounting and finance, but have limited operational functionality. Meanwhile an industry specific ERP will have all generic functionality but also has features and operational capabilities tailored for a specific industry.  Some businesses will really benefit from industry specific functionality while others will be able to achieve their goals and objectives just as successfully with a generic ERP.

Before commencing your project, you need to investigate how important an industry specific ERP is to your business and how much benefit the additional costs of implementing an industry specific ERP will bring to your business. Naturally, at this point we would recommend Bevica if you are in the drinks sector for example.

4. How much can we do with the ERP’s standard functionality?

The issue of standard vs. customised ERP functionality is one that many businesses struggle with. Every business feels they have unique business processes and ways of working and therefore they need their ERP to be customised in some way to meet these unique needs.

Before you start your ERP project, it is important to have an in depth and honest look at both your business processes and the ERP’s standard functionality to identify how the two marry up. If they don’t, you need to decide whether it would be better for you to change the way you work rather than change the ERP system. Or do you definitely need customisations for your specific processes which can become costly? An experienced EPR provider will often be able to show you ways to use out of the box functionality to achieve what your business needs.

5. What other systems will we need to integrate with?

A very important question to ask prior to an ERP project is whether you can address all your business requirements via a single ERP system. If not, you will need to integrate the ERP with third-party systems. It is therefore vital to be clear at the beginning of the project what other systems you are currently using. Does the ERP’s standard functionality cover the business requirements covered by the third-party system? And if not, what needs to be done in order to integrate the system with the new ERP?

6. How much mobility do we need with our ERP software?

Most modern ERP systems are cloud-based and therefore have a high level of mobility built into them. However, it is important for you to understand who in your business will need to access your ERP. Following on from this, how and when will they be accessing the system? Do you have a field service team or a sales team that need to be able to access the ERP via their mobile devices? Is anyone in your business, e.g. finance and operations, going to require a hybrid working model?

7. Will we need our current data to be imported?

The issue of data migration can be one of the biggest challenges you need to resolve before starting your ERP project. Many businesses would say that they need to import all historical data from their existing system when moving over to a new ERP. In most cases, this “belts and braces” approach is not necessary and, with the move to cloud-based ERPs, not feasible. Therefore you must determine exactly what data you will definitely need to have available on a regular basis. Once you have worked this out, you then need a plan for the storage of your historical data.

8. Who will lead the project?

Who you choose as the project manager is a key ingredient in the success of the project. They will play the lead role in planning, executing, monitoring and controlling the whole project. For this kind of project you can take two approaches. Firstly, you can pick someone from your business. If you take this approach, it is very important to make sure they are freed up from their other responsibilities and their role is backfilled.

Secondly, you can employ an independent external ERP expert to lead the project. This consultant will be able to join forces with your internal team and give best-practice advice learned from other ERP implementation projects they have. This will give you the best chance of success. This consultant will join forces with your team, and suggest best practices learned from other implementations.

9. How will key reports be generated?

The real power of any ERP system is its ability to take existing business intelligence data and help you make informed decisions about the future. At the beginning of your ERP project, it is important to understand what the built-in reporting capabilities of the ERP system is and decide whether or not this is enough for your company’s needs. If not, you need to decide what additional reporting software you will need and investigate how easy it will be to integrate with your new ERP. Examples include Jet Reports and Power BI.

10. How will we define project success?

“What will project success look like?” This important question should be asked before any ERP project. Will it be that the project goal and objectives have been achieved? Will it be that the project has been delivered on time and within budget? Is it a combination of both? Or something completely different? Having a clear picture of what your project success measures are will help you keep on track throughout the lifecycle of the project. It will also give you clear measures that you can use to keep your management team informed of project progress.

How can TVision help you?

TVision is one of the largest and most experienced providers of Business Central and NAV in the UK. Here at TVision, we are happy to answer any of the important questions on ERP projects above; plus any other questions you may have about ERP in general and Business Central specifically. If you want to find out more about Business Central as an ERP solution or TVision as an implementation and support ERP partner, please contact us to arrange a demo.