Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integrates management information functions within an organization including finance/accounting, manufacturing, sales, service, customer relationship management, and more. ERP systems automate these activities with a software application.
From a broad perspective, ERP is integrated software for all business processes within an organization.
For the most part, an ERP system has the following characteristics:
· It operates in real time, without relying on updates.
· It has a common database, that supports all applications.
· It provides a consistent look and feel across each software module.
In simple terms, ERP has two major parts—software and its implementation. You can purchase the software from any number of companies that specialize in resource planning. ERP vendors include companies like OpenERP, OpenPro, and WebERP, to name a few.
Before implementing an ERP system it is strongly recommend that you hire an ERP consultant or expert to help you get started.
Since ERP implementation is a time consuming effort that involves major changes to any organization, it’s also important to begin the process with some type of roadmap.
The following lays out a step-by-step process that describes how to incorporate a new ERP system within your company.
1. Schedule an Executive Planning Meeting
In order to set and manage expectations for the ERP project, it’s critical to hold a planning meeting during the first phase. Meeting participants include your chief financial officer (CFO), chief executive officer (CEO), chief information officer (CIO), project managers, and other personnel involved in the project. The main focus should be on discovering the business goals and ROIs (or return on investments) in order to bring a software solution into clearer perspective.
2. Perform a Diagnostic Review and Analysis
During this phase, business requirements are discussed and fleshed out through meetings with internal staff and project managers.
The purpose of these meetings is to further define your business goals and start listing your processes. Once your processes are defined, a further analysis can be done to see how a particular software solution will (or won’t) meet your project requirements
3. Review the Findings
Once you complete a detailed diagnostic review and analysis, you’re ready to start documenting a recommended ERP solution. This document will act as a safeguard to ensure that your recommendations correspond to business goals defined in the first phase of the project.
4. Test Your Plan
When it comes to implementing any type of new technology, a well-thought-out plan is the key to your success. If you engage your management team from the beginning to understand business goals, the end result is bound to be successful.