ERP deployment: Our seven keys for success
ERP (Enterprise resource planning) systems are critical for managing hundreds of day-to-day business activities. A centralised ERP system covers the whole supply chain, brings together different business processes, and enables efficient flow of data between them. It can help strengthen and optimise both the supply chain and customer experience.
In global project business, like at Teleste, a major success factor is how easily different departments and regions can communicate and exchange data with each other. Transparency and smooth access to information are necessary for fast response times and precise on-time delivery. Deploying a centralised ERP system is a way to improve this entire flow to gain efficiency and create smarter, common ways of working.
Despite obtainable benefits, there are some outdated impressions of ERP deployment projects, such as that they are typically delayed and fail. There are, however, a few key factors which you can adopt to ensure successful project outcome. Please read on for some of the lessons learned from our ERP work carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- There cannot be too much communication in this kind of project! All project members need to be committed to the target of the project from the very beginning, and it is important to involve people who will use the ERP system to give them the opportunity to express their ideas and worries.
- Face-to-face workshops are very valuable from the project progress and team building point of view. It is inspiring to see that people working in the project have grown in their roles and taken responsibility for reaching the targets successfully. During the COVID-19 pandemic live meetings have, of course, been far more scattered and it has required special effort from us to arrange them safely.
- The pre-study phase has an essential role in understanding the business requirements and current way of working. It will contribute to the successful implementation of the ERP project in the end.
- Careful planning and follow-up of project schedule are necessary from the beginning. We have noticed that defining clear milestones, for example gap-analysis, master data validation, testing and data migration, helps us hold on to the planned actions and timeline.
- The more complex the operating environment is, the more important it is to split the project into smaller and more focused subprojects or streams, such as finance, project management, and supply chain. This helps identify possible deviations immediately and enables fast corrective actions.
- Efficient project follow-up is key for success. Consolidated and simplified reporting benefits the ERP project, as well as business processes after the deployment. Access to the common source of information creates the basis for centralised development of the system and reporting in future.
- ERP development should not stop at go-live. Best practices develop over time and continuous dialogue with users is important for future improvement.
The ERP deployment work has taught us new procedures, but it has also demonstrated that it makes sense to target at aligned business processes as far as is reasonable. Creating better visibility into what we do and how we operate improves productivity and efficiency and allows us to learn from each other in our day-to-day work. That said, the ERP deployment should not be a one-time project. Instead, it is all about finding the best practices and letting them evolve and deliver value across the company.
Anne Tasaranta was Business Controller for Teleste’s Rail Information Solutions business until October 2022.