Must-Read Tips for a Successful Cloud ERP Implementation

By Jeff Hiddemen and Robert Harrison

Part 1: Top Three Pre-implementation Considerations

Have you been a part of an ERP implementation in the past? Are you moving your existing ERP to the cloud? If so, chances are you have experienced a bump or two along the way. Or, what if you have never been involved with a major Cloud ERP implementation? You probably have no experience, positive or negative, to draw on and may not fully understand the complexities and uncertainties that accompany a software implementation.

When it comes to a successful ERP implementation, there’s a lot to take into account. The good news is that with some planning and forethought, any ERP implementation can be a successful one. After implementing, customizing and consulting on many engagements, we’ve learned the best ways to make sure these projects are positioned for success from the onset.

Here are the top three things you should consider before implementing a cloud-based ERP system:

  1. Assemble the right implementation team

    Choosing the right team to perform the system implementation will be the most important decision you make during the pre-engagement process. Whether you decide to implement the application internally or leverage a third-party consulting firm, it is important you are fully comfortable with the people and implementation methodology before moving forward.

    If you are engaging an external resource or consulting firm, ask yourself these questions to help identify if they are the “best fit” for your business:

    Do you trust the consultants and agree with their core values?

    It’s no secret that you will be working with the consulting team on a daily basis for many months. Therefore, it’s important to choose a team that you are comfortable with and has the expertise you need to get the job done—on time and within budget. In fact, a strong working relationship with your implementation team from the onset is a key factor in the projects’ overall success.

    Do the consultants understand your industry and business?

    A great consultant can make or break your implementation. Therefore, industry experience is very important. As you evaluate potential implementation partners, ask some scoping questions to ensure they have the right combination of skills and experience:

    • Do they have specific experience working with companies like yours?
    • Have they worked across multiple industries or do they specialize in any particular industry?
    • Can they provide a list of references for previous ERP implementations that are similar to yours?

    Do the consultants place emphasis on communication?

    As you undergo an ERP implementation, you will need your implementation team to communicate frequently and with transparency. A good implementation partner should not only share what’s been accomplished, but also provide you with a clear project roadmap of what lies ahead. This includes calling out potential roadblocks, risks and issues that could hinder the success of the project.

  2. Evaluate your implementation team’s methodology

    Whether leveraging external resources or going it alone, a thoughtful implementation approach is critical. If you are engaging a consultant to support your implantation efforts, it’s important to fully vet that they have a defined approach. For example, do they plan to spend time understanding your existing business processes? Will the implementation be tailored to your specific business needs? Are you being assigned to one subject matter expert or will you have a full team supporting you?

    If engaging an outside firm, here are some things to keep in mind:

    • Guided Implementation Approach. Some implementation partners follow an intermittent, short-term and guided implementation approach. What this means is that the partner will provide project management, standard process flows and templates to the client for performing the implementation; however you, the client, will be responsible for actually conducting the system configuration. This approach can work well for organizations with well defined, straight-forward business processes as well as those that have internal staff with the time, expertise and resources to implement the software.
    • Full Service Implementation Approach. On the other hand, a specialized consulting firm will typically provide more thorough, hands-on service to its clients. The consultants may work full-time on the project, and do all the heavy lifting, application configuration and design. This may be a better approach for organizations without internal resources or expertise to lead the implementation effort. In addition, companies with more complex and variable businesses processes that require increased automation or integration with third-party applications may benefit from this full-service approach.
  3. Get buy-in from executive management and key stakeholders

    In order to ensure a successful implementation, it is critical that the project have support from executive management. Companies that tend to struggle the most with ERP implementations are those which lack upper management level involvement. Assembling a group of key stakeholders from the start will promote buy-in across the organization. This committee will help define the project goals, manage the timeline, resolve conflicts and changes to priorities and keep everyone accountable.

    Here are a few tips to ensure you get the buy-in and have the right cross-functional owners in place for a successful project:

    • Identify at least one executive sponsor. The executive sponsor will be responsible for validating decisions made by the team and serve as the final decision maker when consensus cannot be reached. This role is critical to the projects’ success. An apathetic executive sponsor can spell disaster and ultimately derail the project before it even starts.
    • Choose process owners. In addition to the executive sponsor, process owners should be appointed for all core business processes. Process owners truly “own” the requirements in their area and ensure the implementation team is configuring the application to support their process flows. They are also responsible for signing off and approving any needed functionality within the application.
    • Assign a project manager. One of the best ways to ensure that your ERP implementation goes smoothly is to assign a project leader to manage your team. Having a strong leader with plenty of experience will keep the project on track and make it much easier to deal with any problems that arise. The project manager should coordinate and lead weekly internal status meetings, as well as steering committee meetings to ensure all internal needs and deliverables are managed, and decisions are made quickly within the organization.

Bringing It All Together

While implementing a system can be a big undertaking, the payoffs can be huge. Making key decisions on who to include on the project team, which implementation partner to engage and how to structure efforts, will help ensure your project is positioned for success. Remember, there is no “one size fits all solution,” so the choices you make should be based on what works best for your organization. While you may face some speedbumps along the way, if you have performed the appropriate due diligence ahead of time to engage a competent, committed and accountable team, you will be in a better position to get past those obstacles and successfully deliver on the ERP implementation.

A Texas-based leader in delivering and integrating ERP solutions including NetSuite, Bridgepoint Consulting has a large team of consultants who are here to help you make the most of your implementation. If you have any questions or would like help extending or implementing an ERP system, please contact us. Learn more about our services and areas of expertise here.

NetSuite As a Cloud ERP Solution

Highlighted below are some examples of companies that have partnered with us to successfully deploy NetSuite for ERP in their organizations. Click on the logos to learn more about how we helped these clients succeed.

Case Study: Cobb Tuning  Case Study: Right Stuf  Case Study: TicketCity

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About Jeff Hiddemen

Jeff Hiddemen is Managing Director of Bridgepoint’s NetSuite Consulting practice lead and brings over 10 years of professional experience to the firm. Jeff is focused on empowering Bridgepoint’s team of NetSuite Consultants with the tools, expertise, best practices and training to ensure all clients receive best-in-class services and solutions. Jeff has deployed ERP, CRM and eCommerce strategies for clients ranging from enterprise Fortune 100 to startups. His industry experience spans Manufacturing, Financial Services, Energy, Retail, Government, Software, Human Resource Management, Wholesale/Distribution and Sports/Entertainment.

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About Robert Harrison

Rob Harrison is a NetSuite certified ERP Consultant who brings over 12 years of experience with startup, midmarket and Fortune 500 companies to Bridgepoint. With a cohesive blend of both operational and technology expertise, Rob has advanced skills in the areas of business process development, systems implementation, integration, supply chain management, material requirements planning and discrete manufacturing. He has experience leading both ERP selection and implementation projects involving a number of ERP systems, including NetSuite, Oracle and Sage. A graduate of SMU, Rob’s previous experience includes Executive and Senior Leadership roles for companies offering premium consumer products and end-to-end eCommerce solutions.

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