At a time when many businesses are being forced to pause or slow down operations, many are shipping more product than ever. Many supply chain leaders are working hard to keep their raw materials arriving and their production staff in place to keep up with orders – all while juggling family life and remote work challenges. Companies that had been planning ERP implementations this year are now wondering if their projects are feasible. The most common questions include: Is this the right time to take on a complex internal initiative? Is it even possible to complete an ERP project remotely, without any of your team members coming on site? And if so, how?

If your company is considering managing an ERP implementation soon, here are some helpful tips.

Understand Your Team’s Bandwidth

Every company is different, and only your team can determine if now is the right moment to upgrade your ERP software. It will require an initial investment of dollars, time and resources, but done right, it will streamline all of your operations, from formulation and product development through production, shipping, warehousing, sales and accounting.

Before making a decision to move forward with an ERP project, be certain that you have a good understanding of your team’s bandwidth to take on the project. What will your team’s capacity be for taking on additional duties? Who will lead the project? Some companies are finding that with large portions of their team working from home, many people have more time available for infrastructure projects. Doing a project like this now can ensure that your company is well positioned for growth when the world ultimately returns to more normal times.

Embrace Technology For Improved Efficiency

There are three critical events when implementing an ERP system: the project kickoff, the conference room pilot and the go-live launch. Before these events would typically be done in person, but since the entire process is being done remotely now there are some helpful tools to use such as GoToMeeting and webcam-enabled tablets.

• Project Kickoff

Before: There would typically be extensive meetings with key team members for three to four days. The goal was to gain a better understanding of the critical business issues and begin to map the details of the ERP project.

Now: There are short sessions – lasting an hour or two – with the leader of each functional area: production, warehousing, purchasing, sales, etc. Because there is only a limited period of time with every person, people have been having more focused and productive conversations. Using a webinar functionality on a tablet, each leader gives a virtual tour of their functional area, commenting on what is happening live and how it relates to their ERP.

Takeaway: Reserve short, dedicated blocks of time with key players instead of trying to carve out multiple days for a project kickoff. When you only have an hour to meet, people are more willing to put away distractions and give the task their full attention.

• Conference Room Pilot

Before: Two months before the go-live event, the company would test scenarios that exhibit a standard day in the life of the business. Then they would simulate business practices through the new ERP procedures to confirm everything was working as expected.

Now: Live webcam screen sharing is used to help test the new ERP platform, provide feedback and troubleshoot any issues that arise. This process is just as effective in a virtual setting as it is in person.

Takeaway: Go through a live simulation of new ERP software (remotely or on-site) so key stakeholders can voice questions, address obstacles and review successes. Giving customers the option to be in person or virtual can help them better manage their resources and budget, while still gaining the same value.

• Go-Live Launch

Before: Companies would convert to the new software and started using it live.

Now: In advance of the launch, there are support hotlines available to companies. If they encounter any challenges or questions, they can jump into an ongoing webinar at any time for immediate help. They can also schedule 15-minute stand-up meetings with each functional area owner to check in and address problems in real time. Both the hotline and the stand-up meetings have been enormously beneficial for companies. When doing the launch on-site, people can sometimes get caught putting out little fires instead of looking at the bigger picture. The remote process helps prioritize issues and stay focused on overall go-live goals.

Takeaway: Allocate time for each functional area owner to assess their part of the launch, noting positive results and potential risks. Take a step back and make sure you are still aligned with your big-picture objectives.

An ERP implementation is a major undertaking for your entire team, but it is a worthwhile investment if executed properly. With the help of technology and the perseverance of your team, you can achieve a smooth and successful remote ERP launch.

Article Provided By: Forbes

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