ERP – Where to Start?

Starting an ERP selection and Implementation seems like a huge undertaking. It can be, but it can also be straightforward if you do things properly.

Where to Start with your ERP Selection and Implementation
Where to Start with your ERP Selection and Implementation

If you are a small to medium sized company, here are some tips to get you going:

1. ERP Vendors – who should you look at? There are many different ERP vendors. The easiest way is to use a free evaluation service such as Their advisors ask you some questions to profile the type of business you are in and then from that they can give you a short list of candidates to focus on. One good article you should examine is to help you understand how ERP vendors are categorized is “ERP – What Tier are you in?” You can also reference our ERP directory for a listing of various ERP vendors.

2. What questions should you be asking the ERP vendors? This is really a questions of how well do you know what you do. Take a look at “How to determine your ERP Evaluation Criteria” to learn more about how you should self examine your company to then have the criteria for evaluating the vendors. You can also get some free templates that will help you in evaluating erp vendors here on our site.

3. ERP Negotiation – How to reach a successful outcome? Negotiation can be stressful, but really it doesn’t have to be. It is a dance that the vendors go through everyday, so they know how to work it and how to make you come to their desired decision point. You can learn more about negotiation through various books, or you can start with this article on ERP Negotiation.

4. ERP Implementation Planning – There are a lot of details to implementing an ERP solution. Here are the Top 20 ERP Implementation tips. Find out also What makes for a successful ERP Implementation. You can also learn about four corners stones to any successful implementations with this article on RICE. Here is a great article on the 12 Steps to a better ERP Launch. Lastly, here is a tongue-in-cheek look at implementations.

We hope these links and articles will help you sort out resources as to where you can start with your ERP project. For more information, please also see our ERP Bookstore where we have a lot of useful books on ERP Selections and Implmentations.

How not to implement and use ERP software

ERP Software done correctly can be a great tool for improving a business.  Done badly, it can demoralize employees and drive down business results.


How not to implement and use ERP software
ERP Software should enable business processes, not torture the employees.

“My experience with SAP was of an all-purpose integrated business solution. At the beginning of the day, I clocked in using an SAP applet. Next, I would go through a set of SAP generated planned-production orders, direct work orders, or reported directly to my supervisor. After looking through the routing information (generated through SAP), I would complete the specified task. When the task was complete, I would “clock-off” on the job, which entailed bringing the PPO to a computer, scanning it into an SAP applet, and entering my badge number (employee ID). Another thing I found interesting was the request to clock off on all activities. Even if I had only swept or scraped tape off the floors (it was a slow summer), I was asked to clock off on something called “lean labor.” I found this curious, though I suppose from an efficiency standpoint it was very important. To refer back to these “value-chains,” it is important to know exactly what every employee, piece of inventory, and work order are doing at any given time. Whether it is benig worked on, working on something, or finished, this real-time updating system allows everyone company-wide to see which projects are in progress, which are complete, and which have not been touched. Also from a managerial standpoint, it is important to see how much work each individual employee is doing and how well they are performing, not to mention that employee’s ID will always be attached to that job if future concerns arise.

Now from a business standpoint this is all well and good. But what about the employee? A lot of days, clocking and clocking out I felt as though it did not matter whether or not I was even there. There were simply no jobs to be done for entire weeks at a time, but that did not change that I had to “clock out” for certain jobs. Of course, a business wants to make sure that all of its employees are being as productive as possible, but clocking out on cleaning out the same area 3 times during a week seemed redundant and absurd. Not to mention clocking out on an activity such as “material handling” or “lean labor” is fairly arbitrary. This of course necessitated a manager to scold me when my productivity levels fell (ie playing Frisbee with a cardboard box in the back). It is important to note that I was simply summer-hired as well. Working full time at a job as a number would eventually get fairly tedious. As one of my co-workers noted to me, they had simply clocked in and clocked out for a couple of weeks and clocked off on none of the jobs they were doing. No one said anything to him. So who’s checking these jobs?”  – Andrew Mellino

Implementing technology to collect data is one thing, but ERP should not be just about the numbers. ERP ideally should be “process improvement enabled by technology.” It should not be a tool to harass the employees. This is a key concept to understand when implementing and going through the design phase. Which processes are broken and which processes are working fine. Once you have defined that, then see where the ERP software can enable best business practices. It is essential that the employees have a buy in and provide feedback to this step.

If you get the employees to buy into the implementation and how it will change their jobs, you will gain the benefits of higher utilization of the system and overall better adoption. If you fail this step, you will have a failed ERP implementation. There is a saying that you should “drive data collection to the source.” This means that you should have the person who is directly responsible for the source of that data be the one who is entering it. When the ERP system is not implemented with the employees in mind, the employees will be unmotivated to use the system, ensure that the data is accurate, or even bother to put in correct information.

With the help of your line employees, design in best practices and work with them to build a system that they will use and will benefit not only them by making their jobs easier, but also benefit the whole company by driving positive results.

ERP Implementation: Success Factors

By Andrew Karasev

As seeing large number of implementations in our case these are Microsoft Business Solutions Products: Great Plains, MS CRM, Navision we would like to give you our opinion on what should you consider to do to secure implementation success. These principles should work as for large corporation as well as for midsize and even small business. We will not be talking about old-wisdom, which you know from the college classes or business school about management and staff involvement into the decision making, brainstorming, etc. we’ll be ERP specific

* In-house Technical Expertise. Well, complication of computer networking and its security, plus the fact that SQL is now standard for the database platform (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, etc.), plus internet connection line and its support make it inevitable to have IT expertise in the company this might be the whole department or just coming or part time networking consultant. Our experience indicates that the lack of internal or always available onsite specialist decreases the chances of success dramatically. And the explanation should be simple to this fact. Nowadays ERP system requires minor or major customization, integration and reporting and all these steps in turn require patient coding and testing in the test environment or on the sample dataset/database

* Dedicated ERP Administrator. This is true that users could be trained and would know how to use the system. However typical ERP has its own life and somebody should assign new users, setup security roles for them, modify reports and makes custom reports available for the users, setup printers, try first to resolve the issue by looking at the techknowledge database, and so on. ERP Administrator doesn’t have to be IT guru she/he needs to be trained on how to administer the program and how to deal with technical support. Image for a moment that if you take out manager from the company even if all the employees have excellent training and used to work for the company numerous years you will still expect performance degradation. The same should be said about ERP system

* Expect Certain Number of Issues. IT industry is not yet mature and it is probably sad, but the reality, that even very experienced consultant, developer, programmer makes errors or your software environment has something that make the custom piece malfunction. When you see the consultant being persistent in resolving your issues please be patient and try to help him or just don not make him nervous.

* Trust Your Consultant. When you decide on somebody to implement the system, you need from this moment on to trust him and let him have high security access to the ERP hosting server. Complex security makes consultant suffer from getting connected, installing the patches or custom pieces. So many times we were spinning our wheels in trying to test new custom business logic, when, say Windows or MS SQL Server security was restricting us to do the actions we needed

* Do Not Overnegotiate. This is from the sales cycle. When you purchase the system you should purchase the software and implementation from the same company otherwise your partner will place you on the second priority list. We saw numerous examples, when client purchases Microsoft CRM licenses from nation-wide distributor, and then is trying to find somebody to implement the system. Also if you are cutting software prices you may see your consulting company rescheduling the work for you in favor of somebody else.

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( ) – Microsoft Business Solutions and IBM Lotus Domino Partner, serving corporate customers in the following industries: Aerospace & Defense, Medical & Healthcare, Distribution & Logistics, Wholesale & Retail, Chemicals, Oil & Gas, Placement & Recruiting, Advertising & Publishing, Textile, Pharmaceutical, Non-Profit, Beverages, Conglomerates, Apparels, Durables, Manufacturing and having locations in multiple states and internationally.

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ERP Failures

What makes a successful ERP implementation?

What makes a successful ERP implementation?

ERP implementations are the most difficult thing you will probably have to do. They are painful and they usually tear a team apart (and then bring them back together) before going live. Some say that a major ERP implementation will go live under its third project manager! While this is extreme, it can be seen in large corporate environments. Add to the fact that ERP is not really one system; there are document management systems, bar code systems, report writers, warehouse management and other sorts of bolt-on’s. The greatest challenge is Continue reading What makes a successful ERP implementation?